PSOC Stories

Over 300 people have shared with us their experiences in PSOC. These testimonials show this club creates lifelong friendships, a welcoming community, and empowered leaders. This club helps students find their place at Penn State and introduces students to a lifetime of outdoor recreation. Student experience tremendous personal growth through PSOC’s student-led trips and peer mentorship model all grounded in a passionate community. This model is both affordable and accessible to everyone. PSOC helps members improve their mental health, develop responsible decision making skills, and cultivate an appreciation of nature.


“I don’t even know where to start. PSOC was the most influential part of my college experience.” – PSOC Officer Alum


Lifelong Friendships:

“I’ve met my best friends through this club. This has been a huge part of my college experience, and has helped me to grow tremendously throughout my time at Penn State.” – Current Member

“Have made amazing friends, connected me to like-minded individuals, opportunities to travel/gain experience backpacking.” – Current Member

“It’s given me an opportunity to meet with wonderful people and share my interests in the outdoors.” – Current Member

“PSOC has sprouted new friendships (some of the best I’ve had) by connecting me with other students who also have a love for adventure, recreation, and the outdoors.” – Current Member

“Through the trips I went on with the club, I made lifelong friends, and had some of the most memorable experiences of my life. The trips I lead gave me the experience I needed to lead professionally, and to plan exotic trips for my family and friends.” – PSOC Alum

“[PSOC was] one of the best groups I was involved with at Penn State. [It] formed some of my closest friendships and fondest memories this way. (10 years later, and still living with former PSOC folks.)” –  PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC is where I met my closest friends in college. I can’t imagine what my Penn State experience would have been like if I hadn’t joined PSOC my sophomore year. I owe a huge debt to the outdoor community and Outing Club for all the social capital it provided me and for how each helped me fall in love with the outdoors. The bonds formed with my peers on trips were unlike any others I’ve experienced in other clubs or activities. The friends I have from PSOC are the closest ones I have, and the ones I miss more dearly now that I’m an alumnus.” – PSOC Alum

“PSOC members are still my friends 30+ years after I graduated. They are the best friends I made at PSU. The outings we did kept me sane through my graduate school experience. They were and are my tribe. I know of at least two lasting marriages that came from this club. I still rock climb, camp, hike, mountain bike, ski, backcountry ski, fish and have whitewater adventures.” – PSOC Alum

“The friends I made through PSOC in undergrad are the closest friends I have now, twenty years later.  I learned more about myself and life in general as a participant on and leader of trail crew, climbing, and backpacking trips, and as a board member, first as trail crew coordinator, then as president, of the club than I ever learned in any of my classes.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“My strongest friendships from my time at Penn State were formed by my involvement in PSOC. Hiking through forests, cooking dinners over camp stoves, and learning how to fully embrace elements such as torrential rains and cold nights formed these friendships.” – PSOC Alum

“Met my husband through PSOC.  16 years, 2 kids, and 3 dogs later…” -PSOC Alum

“PSOC was the foundation of my best friendships from Penn State. I keep in contact with a handful of people from my time Penn State, and nearly all of them are PSOC-related.  I don’t know if I would have even met those people, let alone developed the bonds I did with them, if it weren’t for PSOC.” – PSOC Officer Alum

 Welcoming Community:

“The past few days I’ve been trying to find the words to describe the impact PSOC has had on life life. I still haven’t found them but I can say this. Every morning I wake up next to a PSOC alum, every night my Skype, call, and text log are full of conversations with PSOC alum, and I still spend many weekends romping around outside with PSOC alum. It has been years since I’ve been in the club and the roots the community dug in me are still there and still there deep. It truly saddens me to think that future students may not have the immensely deep and beautiful community to truly teach them about friendship, love, outdoor leadership, and to grow their passion and stewardship of the outdoors.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“I taught PSOC students how to kayak during the “revival wave” of the whitewater division. It is deeply rewarding to teach  a hard-to- access skill to a newcomer in a noncommercial format: the stranger and I become friends, common adventurers instead of guide/client. You can guess which relationship has more potential for community and the future of that newcomer’s involvement in the sport. What is a college if not a facilitator of learning experiences? ” – PSOC Alum

“I joined as a junior, afraid that it was a group of exclusive people that didn’t like ‘outsiders.’ But for half my time here at PSU, I have been missing out. [In PSOC], I connected with like-minded individuals who are ecstatic to share their love of the outdoors with others. My relationship to the outdoors and it’s community is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. ” – Current Member

“[PSOC] provides me a way to connect with people about climbing, hiking, and other outdoors things. It’s nice to have an easily accessible group of likeminded people to speak to. It’d be a shame if this kind of community was lost.” – Current Member

“PSOC helped me find my way through my four years at Penn State. I found community within the friendships I made (and have maintained well into adulthood). I found applications of my RPTM coursework. I found challenge and adventure, which motivated me to pursue a career as an outdoor educator. I found history that inspired me, and a legacy fraught with challenges, which inspired my Schreyer Honors College undergraduate thesis on collegiate outdoor adventure programs. I found a way to leave my Penn State community better than I found it, by working tireless to forge relationships between Adventure Recreation and PSOC. I found countless sunrises & sunsets, adventures across the country (from Acadia to Death Valley!), and more joy than any other single organization I have ever been involved in. PSOC lives on in the hearts of the tens of thousands of alumni who ever had the pleasure to bear those four letters on a beat-up t-shirt.” – PSOC Alum

“My time In PSOC led me all around the country and eventually helped me get a job outside Yosemite and now in Boulder. I live a truly blessed life filled with friends and time outside to and I owe that to PSOC. It is by far the most Influential thing on my life to date. I truly would be living a less happy life if I didn’t join PSOC. The community in PSOC is like no other and I would break my heart to see it go away after all of these years.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC has created and maintained a cultural of outdoor recreation in the area and abroad. This club has produced numerous outdoor recreation educators and enthusiasts who have helped to encourage these healthy habits throughout the world.” – Community Member

“Outing club fosters the relationship between transient student and community members.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC introduced me to a huge community of helpful outdoor enthusiasts. These people have saved me money by lending me expensive gear of their own to get started in activities such as kayaking, backpacking, and hiking. They’ve taken me out on their own time to teach me new skills and activities in the outdoors.” – Former Member, Current Student

PSOC welcomed me with open arms.  The sense of community made this big school seem small.  I have met all of my best friends through PSOC. We have bonded so much over the experiences that the outing club has fostered.  This group of people and the outdoors have helped me get through some tough times. PSOC has given me the skills and the confidence to go on and become a backpacking guide as well as pursue a minor in recreation park and tourism management.  I do not know where I would be today without PSOC.” – Current Member

“As a shy freshman, this group of people took me in like the lost puppy I was. I had never even camped for one night and everyone was so kind and helpful teaching me the ways of eating hot sauce, cheese, dried meat, and Nutella in one wrap, how to be safe, and to just be outside with awesome friends. I always felt welcome at PSOC and the weekend trips I went on were some of the best times I had in college.” – PSOC Alum

“PSOC was the club that gave me a home at Penn State. I was shy and nervous for college, and PSOC was the most welcoming group of people I’ve ever met. No one is an outsider is this club.” – PSOC Officer Alum

Helped me find my place at Penn State:

“PSOC has led some amazing trips that oriented me as a student at Penn State in a healthy, energetic, and engaging way.” – PSOC Alum

“I found my niche in a large school through PSOC. I found a community that encouraged and fostered my passions. I would have been lost without it, and without the student led weekend trips.” – PSOC Alum

“I was the weird hippie girl at a conservative high school. And then I went to Penn State — a big place. I didn’t know if I’d ever find my people. But I found them in Outing Club. And I found a love of outdoor recreation! I hardly hiked before college, now I rock climb weekly, and moved to the west coast to be closer to amazing outdoor areas. Truly, adventuring with PSOC helped me find my place and passions in this world. If there’s anything this world needs more of, it’s connecting with others–in person (not over technology or distracted by technology)– while surrounded by healing green nature!! [PSOC is] so valuable for college students’ growth.” – PSOC Alum

“I owe a large part of where I am today to PSOC. When I first came to Penn State as a freshman I didn’t feel connected to the sports and frat culture at PSU. I had trouble finding friends and a community to be a part of. When I joined PSOC, I found a community and a reason to be proud of being a Penn Stater. If I hadn’t of found PSOC perhaps I would have left PSU.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“[PSOC] totally impacted the path of my entire life and shaped my identity. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for me. This is where I found my love of outdoors and adventure, discovered my capacity as a leader, found myself and developed life long friendships. I learned more about life through my outing club experiences than I ever learned in a classroom. I found the club as a freshman, wanting more from college than greek life and drinking culture had to offer. I went on many trips, led many trips, adventured to the Adirondacks, White Mountains, Grand Canyon, Seneca Rocks and explored all around PA. I became an officer and helped to develop the risk management manuals for rock climbing. … If this club wasn’t there when I was an undergrad, I don’t know who I would be right now. There’s a good chance I could have gotten sucked into Greek life, drinking too much, ending up in a terrible situation – I hate to even think of those very real possibilities. The club saved me. The university needs to offer more of these kinds of opportunities to students, not less.”  – PSOC Officer Alum and PSU Faculty/Staff

Introduction to the Outdoors:

“My first time backpacking was with PSOC! It was life changing, now I want to backpack so much more! I think [PSU] needs to a super strong community that can get people outdoors.” – Current Member

“PSOC has been a place I have been able to learn about opportunities to get outside in my community. In relation to hiking, backpacking, and all things outdoors- I am a newcomer, and going to PSOC meetings has helped me learn what I want to do and how to do it. I was really looking forward to getting a chance to go on a trip next semester … and am deeply saddened that it will not happen.” – Current Member

“PSOC gave me amazing friends, and enriching college experience, the organizational and planning skills needed to coordinate a trip for multiple people, and an avenue to get involved in outdoor activities with pay exorbitant prices. … I can confidently say I would not have gotten into backpacking and hiking without PSOC.  They made it so accessible and affordable for everyone. It’s ok be to a little weird at PSOC! We thrive on it!” – PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC has given me my first two backpacking trips and made me excited about going outside and exploring the world around us. It has given me new friends and allowed me to meet interesting new people.” –  Current Member

“[PSOC] took me on my first overnight backpacking trip… gave me so many really cool people to talk to. [PSOC] allowed my love outdoors to grow more. Most importantly: [PSOC] made me feel welcome as a freshman at Penn State.” – Current Member

“PSOC allowed me to get outside, both on PSOC trips, and thorough and adventure literature class I heard about at a PSOC meeting. I likely would not have done any of this on my own, considering I have very little gear and experience, but PSOC gave me a place to start. I think that having an official organization, especially one affiliated with Penn State, that gets people outside is very valuable to people like me who are interested in the outdoors, but aren’t sure where to start.” – Current Member

“Sleeping in the woods was a pretty foreign idea [to me] when I came to Penn State in the early 80’s and without the Outing Club, I may have missed this exceptional part of my education. … The advantages and opportunities that the outing club offers to the student body cannot be overstated; it fosters healthy life habits and an appreciation for the natural world. The University should be encouraging more participation in these sorts of activities, not pushing them outside the University setting.” – PSOC Alum, PSU Staff, Parent of current Student

“It’s difficult to put into words the impact PSOC has had on my life. The club introduced me to hiking and backpacking – activities that now occupy much of my thoughts and free time. The experience I gained on PSOC trips helped me to get an internship with the National Park Service when I was a student.” – PSOC Alum, PSU Faculty/Staff

“After my freshman year at PSU I wanted to transfer to a smaller liberal arts college to get more personal attention and input on my work, but then I found PSOC. PSOC absolutely made my college experience. The opportunity to design and lead trips was particularly formative and helped me build confidence in my own abilities outdoors. Coming into PSU I had never been backpacking. After 3 years in the Outing Club I graduated and went on to hike the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails and also to lead groups of young hikers.” – PSOC Alum

Lifetime of Outdoor Recreation:

“I’m a 2003 graduate of PSU and was a member of PSOC for years. Now as a Physician Assistant, I see many patients who are in need of the stress relieving qualities of nature and the excellent physical activity provided by activities such as hiking.  For me, learning how to backpack, canoe and rock climb with PSOC has provided me with a life long skill set including interpersonal skills and physical fitness. I’m disappointed in those at Penn State who made this decision.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC was a life-changing experience for me.  Penn State without the Outing Club would not be the Penn State I knew.  PSOC has influenced the lives of many members. Many young people who took up canoeing or kayaking while PSU students continued with it for years, sometimes for a lifetime.  People found spouses and made long-term friendships in the Outing Club. It would be a terrible shame not to provide these opportunities for today’s students.” – PSOC Alum

“The PSOC served as a ‘bridge’ for me between my youth as a Boy Scout and my future involvement with adult outing clubs.  I was a PSOC member (Hiking Division) back in the early 1970’s under the tutelage of Tom Thwaites, and was of course heavily involved with building trail for the Mid State Tail.  I also fondly remember numerous weekend backpacking trips all over north central Pennsylvania with the PSOC, and we also had end-of-the-summer week long canoe trips up in Algonquin Provincial Park.  Immediately upon graduation, I joined an adult outing club in my new home in the Binghamton, NY area and have now been involved with it for well over 40 years, along with regional outdoor clubs like the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the Adirondack Mountain Club — and no question, I credit the PSOC with fostering and nurturing this life-long interest in outdoor recreation.” – PSOC Alum

“My fondest memories at PSU were thanks to the outing club. Thanks to this community I developed a passion for backpacking that my wife and I continue to this day. If not for PSOC I might have never discovered the outdoors. It’s is a travesty that the next generation of students might be deprived of the opportunities provided to generations before them.” – PSOC Alum

“PSOC is how I got started with backpacking, taking a trip up to somewhere in the Laurel Highlands in October 1998. I was such a goofball – I remember bringing a gallon milk jug for my water. … It would be impossible for me to convey the impact that PSOC had on my life. After graduating, spending time in nature became a part of my identity. I’ve spent more time wandering with a backpack and doing peak bagging in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Greens, and Whites than I can possibly write about, and made connections with other people who ultimately became my close friends and social circle over the course of thirteen years living in Brooklyn.” -PSOC Alum

“PSOC introduced me what became a lifetime love of hiking, camping, climbing, kayaking, canoeing and mountain biking.” – PSOC Alum and PSU Faculty/Staff

My roots as an outdoors women began at the PSOC. Those trips and then the subsequent friends I met there have exposed me to numerous experiences that I now have and share with friends/family. My friends and the activities at PSOC allowed me to fill my free time with countless of hours in the woods, on rocks and in caves where as my other friends spent countless hours drinking, partying, and conducting questionable behavior.” – PSOC Alum

“The off campus events were a true high point of my time at PSU. It helped me develop a lifelong interest in hiking and paddling. ” – PSOC Alum


Empowerment and Leadership:

“I consider my experience in PSOC to have contributed heavily to my growth as a leader, and my ability to effectively manage the groups and teams that I now work with in a professional setting. By giving me the chance to take ownership of every element of a trip, I gained a sense of independence and empowerment. Taking part in trips that my peers put time and thought into planning was equally as rewarding. Though we often encountered challenges on these trips (as you are bound to encounter on any outdoor adventure-based trip), solving these challenges together, as students, helped us grow and develop the problem-solving skills that we all will inevitably put to use after our time at Penn State is overPSOC has an incredible legacy of empowering students to “live their dreams” in terms of planning and running back country trips. The world needs more PSOC alumni that have experience mitigating risk, leading their peers,  overcoming logistical issues, and learning how to operate as a team player in a community of people with shared value systems. – PSOC Alum 

“[PSOC] gave me the tools and knowledge to start mountaineering. I wanted to get into mountaineering my whole life but it’s hard to start and I worried I would never get that start. … I’ve [now] climbed the tallest mountain in the lower 48, via the hard route, along with many other notable peaks, (a big one in Washington) and have bigger planned. I have grown as a climber and in general as a person. It raised my personal bar for what hard work is and preparing for all types of challenges and being self sufficient. It led to me being in better shape, being more organized and goal oriented, waking up earlier and eating better, and best of all getting after it in the mountains. I see myself as a better person now than before, and I attribute that to the challenges faced in the mountains, molding me into a hardworking fun person.”  – Former member, current student

“PSOC opened my eyes to a new WORLD available at Penn State. A world I (regretfully) didn’t know existed until my junior year. It gave me confidence, beautiful authentic caring and sustainable friends, it gave me the opportunity to get outside and grow as an individual. I am concerned for incoming students…where will they go when they are seeking an outdoor community?” – Former Member, current Student

PSOC was the first club I joined when I got to campus my freshman year, in 1997. One of the first people I met is still a good friend today, 21 years later! The club provided an amazing chance to go to wonderful places, and meet remarkable people. Outdoor skills encourage self reliance and better self esteem, all things we need more of. Getting away for the weekend, into the natural world provides more education than any text book. Long live PSOC! – PSOC Alum, State College Community Member

“PSOC helped me be an effective leader and to connect to the local State College community. When planning a trip we had to think through every possibility and be prepared for it. This was true immersive education and very few of my classes rivaled what I learned through PSOC. As a freshman, I really looked up to the juniors and seniors leading trips and they instilled in me that it’s possible to lead your peers at such a young age. This early exposure to leadership has allowed me to take risks in my professional life, not doubting my age or experience level.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC was the biggest and probably best part of my Penn State experience.  I developed leadership skills, both from being a leader on the trips and from serving as President my senior year.  PSOC led me to ORION, where I worked as a leader for two summers and was one of my favorite things I did at Penn State.  The experience and connections I built through PSOC helped me land my first “real” job after college, working as a wilderness therapy instructor in southern Utah.”  -PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC was the way I was able to create my own small community out of the huge student community at Penn State. The people I worked with at PSOC were open, accepting, responsible, and fun-loving. PSOC and all its crazy get to know you games and activities helped me come out of my shell and find a passion for the outdoors that I didn’t know I had until college. As the new staff training leader, I had my first real teaching and group-leading experiences. I have now been a 7th and 8th grade teacher for 10 years, and I can say that PSOC and my leadership experience with the club is what helped set me on my path.” – PSOC Officer Alum

Personal Growth:

“Through the countless experiences I had as a member of the club, I feel that I developed into a more confident and capable person overall. I learned more about myself, my friends, and the world around me than through any other activity. Trips with Outing Club provided me with incredibly meaningful moments introspection and connectivity to those around me and to the natural world. I think that PSOC always encouraged me to be comfortable with myself and unafraid to be weird,  as well as to step outside of my comfort zone and take on challenges. I was given a better understanding of my community and myself, and I honestly do not believe any of that would have happened but for my involvement in PSOC. I know that the person I am today, a year removed from Penn State, is better for having been a member of PSOC.” -PSOC Alum

“PSOC was central to my PSU experience and subsequent success, professional and personal. As an instructor / trip leader, then staff coordinator, then director during my time at PSU (1995-1999) PSOC gave me invaluable training and experience in interpersonal skills, pedagogy and experiential education, and business management. I’ve had a great deal of personal and professional success in the years since graduating and I believe PSOC contributed to that substantially. I also developed life long friends (also very successful people, also due in large part to PSOC) and amazing memories.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“My PSOC experience was paramount in helping  me to obtain employment at an environmental science school in California right after graduation.  In addition, my experiences with PSOC later aided earning my dream job with Outward Bound and eventually becoming the Associate Program Director of the Philadelphia Outward Bound School.  The friendship, leadership and team building skills learned from the backpacking, canoeing and outdoor trips offered by PSOC go far beyond a fun weekend in the woods. Employers look for this type of leadership and tenacity in future recruits.  One learns about their inner strengths, when pushing through a steep hike, and benefits from the peace and inspiration of the wilderness, which helps to manage stress.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“My PSOC experience helped me get a job leading ORION trips and a job at REI. The leadership helps me in my job as a teacher. And the breadth of experiences I had in Central PA was amazing- bouldering, ice climbing, knowing the landscape through its creeks, rivers, and forests, being a TA for a backpacking class in Rothrock, night hikes, snowshoeing, cross country skiing in Black Moshannon… it was great. I led a canoe trip in the Everglades, too.” – PSOC Alum

PSOC helped frame and shape my life. It taught me leadership, organization, professionalism and offered an alternative to the fraternity scene while at university. PSOC was my family and gave me the long term friends and lessons that stood by me when my heart was broken and then again when it was fixed when I met and married my wife.
It launched me in a professional trajectory of service to my community and gently fostered interests that led me to work for outward, teach for an international wilderness medicine organization, guide international mountain trips and eventually get a second degree in nursing. I now am a flight nurse/paramedic and am a leader in my organization. All of this can be attributed to my time at PSOC. It shaped me. It changed me. It continues to do both.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“[PSOC] has given me confidence and strength to grow, and the trips teach me how to be a better person. I now enjoy being put in uncomfortable, out of place situations, because I know it is shaping me to become a stronger person, and I will always have the achievement to support my future wellness.” – Current Member

“[My] year as President taught me more than the entirety of my coursework at PSU. Certainly, I gained a lot of knowledge from my courses. But a classroom setting rarely provides the situations to foster character traits and employ personal soft skills. I cultivated such traits and skills as: perseverance, resilience, camaraderie, conflict resolution, leadership, taking responsibility and humility.” – PSOC Officer Alum

Responsible Decision Making:

“PSOC has introduced me to a lot of new people, friends, and EXTREMELY helpful/important information about the community, hiking, and safety. I would not be nearly as safe on hikes if I did not join PSOC; this club was essential in building my safety procedures and knowledge.” – Current Member

“PSOC also provided me with the confidence and skills needed to continue backpacking and hiking on my own. As an alumni, I often find myself sharing trail skills with others, and I realize that my comfort on the trail stems from my time with PSOC.” -PSOC Alum

“PSOC was where I got experience organizing and advertising meetings and activities, leading meetings, negotiating arrangements, caring for equipment, as well as dealing with the outdoor elements and how to be safe there. These were all important skills that have served me well in my career and into my retirement. Some of the best and fondest memories of college come from outing club activities and experiences.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“In PSOC, I continued to hone my wilderness emergency medicine skills, leadership skills, and develop as a human and critical thinker. The wilderness provides such an important opportunity for learning and growth because of it’s uncertain nature, not in spite of it.” – PSOC Alum

Appreciation for Nature:

“[PSOC] informed me of important causes such as protecting national parks and ways to get involved in helping the earth.” – Current member

“Every student who has taken part in PSOC has had the chance to see the natural world unhindered by the yolk of larger societal constitutions. This is the way that students learn about and embrace new ideas and indeed the very nature of OUR environment. Not by the heavy hand of a dogmatic supervisor, but by the curiosity and wonder of something greater than themselves. One finds much diversity in wild lands, from the smallest ecosystems to the largest and even in the company with which one travels! I love seeing students, and really everyone, taking advantage of the  fantastic outdoor recreation available throughout Pennsylvania! We have so much to offer as a state and as small but mighty communities across the commonwealth.”  PSU Faculty/Staff

“Honesty, the trajectory of my life would have been totally different without PSOC. Through PSOC I not only met the best friends I have ever made in my life (and my partner), I learned independence, organization, and a true love of the outdoors. By becoming an officer I gained so many skills I use in my everyday life while coordinating trips and making sure our members were safe. I became a true Steward of the outdoors because I felt responsible for others I was able to take action, lead others, teach others, and learn about my true passions instead of just taking a ride on a led trip.” – PSOC Alum

“The trips I was involved with lead me to have an appreciation for nature, to change my major, and to different employment opportunities within both the adventure guiding realm and the professional environmental consulting industry.” – Former member, current student

PSOC got me to truly appreciate the outdoors and helped relieve me of depression.”  -Former member, current student

“[PSOC] has given my daughter the opportunity to experience and respect Pennsylvania’s mountain environment.”  – PSU Grad Parent, State College Community Member

“When PSOC hikes and trip are taken, students are able to get a better sense of their place in the State College community which allows them to respect and protect the area.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“The Outing Club has fostered in me a deeper appreciation and respect for our natural resources.  I was the president of the hiking division of the club in the mid 1980’s. The legendary Tom Thwaites was our advisor at the time and I worked beside him on many trail construction and maintenance projects.  Tom’s incredible knowledge of, and respect for, nature and the trails was contagious. I participated in in everything from these trail maintenance day trips to weekend backpacking trips to a spring break trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  These activities and the friends I made provided me with some of the most memorable moments during my time at Penn State.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“A group like this builds a community that loves and appreciates nature and preserving the earth. ” – Concerned PA resident

“My fondest memories at Penn State have been with the Outing Club. I still consider my first backpacking trip in Fall 2016 to Hammersley to be the experience that shaped me the most here at Penn State. It was the first time I truly appreciated the abundance of resources this earth has to offer and made me feel like I have “a place” within this university. I never would have signed up to go on a trip with complete strangers like this if PSOC had not given me the opportunity. I learned the importance of meaningful interactions with my peers and of spending time isolated from the commotion of campus, and the mental health benefits of forming this connection with nature. I feel like a more collected, confident, and adventurous person because of my experiences with PSOC.” – Current Member

Improved Mental Health:

“[PSOC] gave me a love of the outdoors. I loved Sunday hikes every weekend and trail work on MST. Those outings every Sunday helped balance my studies.” – PSOC Alum

“Provided some of my most beautiful and enduring memories form college. I’m gravely concerned that current and future students will miss out on the opportunities we had.  Furthermore in this current culture of always being plugged in, students needs a break from their e-life more than ever.” – PSOC Alum

“PSOC has been an outlet for PSU students to escape the stress and mundanity of test-driven college life and live in the natural wealth surrounding our region. This is upsetting.” – Community Member

PSOC Saved my life… PSOC was one of the first social groups where I not only felt accepted, but I felt that I could be myself. I built most of my stable adult friendships through this club. The strength of these friendships was in part through our personal growth during the very activities that are being called into question. … Not only did I grow as a person thanks to this club, but the friendships I developed later ended up saving my life. … I can assure you that without the steel strong friendships I had thanks to this club, my outcome would be different and I most likely would not be here today.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“PSOC gave me the skills to thrive in the outdoors as a professional (wildlife biologist), a group of amazingly supportive individuals of friends while a student, and an introduction the the outdoor pursuits that have formed the basis of my physical health and mental wellbeing for years.” – PSOC Officer Alum

“The Penn State campus was rife with toxic and dangerous drinking culture as we all know. A campus of 45,000 undergraduates can be a surprisingly lonely place, particularly for someone who does not identify with the football and drinking culture. However, the Penn State Outing Club became my escape. In retrospect, this was certainly critical for my mental health, enabling me to go on hikes and explore the area surrounding campus. I recall no drinking on formal trips, but did witness extremely dangerous alcohol-related events ON campus.” -PSOC Officer Alum

“Going outside is great for your mental health and provides a different kind of stress relief from what you imagine typical college students do. It is also incredibly empowering and spiritual.”  – Current Member

“PSOC has been such an accepting community that allows me to escape my everyday stress and focus on the beauty of the outdoors. Even during weekly meetings, I find myself more relaxed and I always leave meetings smiling.” – Current Member

PSOC always motivated me to seek out the adventures waiting to be in life, and helped me work through numerous low points in my mental health. In addition to encouraging healthy activities, PSOC showed me that there is more to do at Penn State than get drunk as hell on a balcony. – PSOC Alum

Trip Affordability and Accessibility

“[PSOC] introduced me to backpacking and helped foster a love for the outdoors. How else will I be able to afford fun backpacking trips? Adventure Recreation is great, but I can’t drop $100+ on every trip I take.” – Current Member

“I came to PSU from a low income background w/ limited exposure and opportunity for outdoor adventure. PSOC’s peer-to-peer model of outdoor education gave me an opportunity to dive right in, learning soft skills and group dynamics, and leadership skills through running trips. It’s exactly what college clubs are suppose to do — allow highly motivated and self driven students to build healthy communities and outlets for the student body. I eventually became president of PSOC in 2002 (2003?), which became a springboard for my career going forward. I still, 15 years after graduating from PSU, use experiences from my PSOC trip leader days as responses for interview questions.” – PSOC Officer Alum





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