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Check Out These 10 Collegiate Outdoor Groups Your New Student Can Join

Did you know that these collegiate outdoor groups existed at your kid's college?

According to College Outside, there are some 275 collegiate outdoor groups across 48 states that around 150,000 students participate in. Among the most popularly attended activities are hiking, backpacking, camping, biking, kayaking, canoeing, trail running, climbing, skiing and orienteering. However, the best of all might be the bass fishing clubs and teams!

If your child—who's now a young adult living on their own—is interested in the outdoors, maybe one these outdoor clubs might be just the thing for them. What better way could they meet like-minded people at their university. Outdoor education and outdoor recreation go hand in hand; even outdoor activities like rock climbing are easily translated indoors during the colder months.

Outdoor education programs such as environmental science, biology and engineering have the greatest number of student outdoor enthusiasts. But these student groups have open arms for anyone interested. American universities are determined to offer up such recreational sports in the attempt to keep students active and healthy now that high school is over. 

And, having these active, go-getting programs on their resume shows the responsibility employers look for. Here are some of the programs they can look into and some of the universities that offer them:

1. Hiking

Hiking is one of the most basic outdoor activities that gets the heart pumping and clears the mind. And many universities offer organizations, also known as "outing groups," that embrace this popular pastime. Many of these college programs have continued to grow, too, like the University of Colorado Boulder Hiking Club, for example. Forest bathing has become synonymous with a healthy, active lifestyle, and starting on the collegiate level is exemplary.

Additionally, New York's Cornell University sits on 745 acres high above Cayuga Lake. As someone who's been there many times, I can tell you just getting to class on those hills is a hike!

2. Backpacking

To some, backpacking is altogether too similar to basic hiking, but learning to pack the essentials and carry techniques are extremely important. One of best groups out there is the University of Denver Backpacking Club.

3. Camping

Most university outing clubs offer camping and sponsor camping trips. Maine's Bowdoin College has, in the past, offered hikes that even followed the steps that Thoreau took through the northern part of the Pine Tree State.

4. Biking

You might say, "What college student hasn't had to use a bike at some point?" But there's a difference between pedaling to class and riding with classmates. The Colorado School of Mines offers a mountain biking club, as does the well-known Ohio State University.

5. Kayaking/Canoeing

There are so many great outdoor schools for you or your outdoor student to choose from that it's difficult to list them all here. What school among them wouldn't have you on the water during the fall and spring sessions to get them outdoors?

Among the best of these groups are the University of Denver Kayaking Club, the University of Connecticut Whitewater Kayaking Club and the Columbia University Whitewater Kayaking Club.

6. Trail running

College Station's Texas A&M University lists as many running trail locations as you could imagine. The same goes for Virginia's George Washington University. Escaping on your legs though the woods is often the only way outdoor-loving students want to do it. My good friend and graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, tells me that trail running at the venerable public research university is second to none. 

7. Climbing/Rock Climbing

Oregon State University and the Rochester Institute of technology both offer premier indoor rock climbing as club activities. Colorado's Adams State University and Washington State's Gonzaga University both have their own collegiate climbing teams.

8. Skiing/Cross Country Skiing/Snowboarding/Telemarking

Most of the western and northern schools make good use of the winter by adding these winter sports. From Montana State University to the University of Alaska, young, outdoor-loving adults have more than enough reasons to get outside.

9. Orienteering

The afore-mentioned RIT lists orienteering as one of the outdoor student activities of their outing club. This also includes Penn State University and our fighting men and women at West Point. If you're interested in the more serious side of hiking and backpacking the wild country, this club is for you.

10. Bass Fishing

Back in Sept. 2015, I wrote a piece listing all of the U.S. colleges with affiliated bass fishing teams. There are so many I stopped counting, and that didn't even include the many simple fishing clubs most colleges have. My son graduated from New York's Oswego State University, and one of his favorite things was that institution's fishing club.

Schools such the University of Colorado Boulder, for instance, are replete with student activities for outdoor recreation. CU Boulder offers everything from archery and shooting clubs to skydiving and slackliniing clubs.

As a principle, any outdoor recreation program that offers a climbing wall, gear rental or some other kind of outdoor opportunity could be just what the outdoor-loving student needs!

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