It was a hot, humid day, which quickly turned cold at night. Some people slept inside on the pavement floor, others slept outside on the grass. The goal was to enjoy the moment, to enjoy every moment. That was some five years and many more pounds ago. I was naïve back then, a fool. We all were. Now I am different. I am wise. An intellectual. I have a degree.
By the way, that was a joke. Hopefully I am a bit smarter, but who really knows for sure? Certainly not me. I consider myself fairly lucky – my introduction to the Outing Club was smashing. Our Pre-O group gelled very well on the trip and my trip leaders turned out to be fantastic role models. TINKER NORTH RULES! TINKER SOUTH STINKS. I spent time working at the OC barn, in the OC office, became a Key Staff, built a really elaborate mousetrap that did not work, made a lot of fun of my co-workers and trip participants, became a three year Pre-O trip leader, became a brand ambassador for the outdoor industry, logged weeks of my life driving the good ol’ vans, and helped build the climbing wall and the climbing team that followed. I even had my fair share of ripped pants due to OC related incidents. Looking at it all retrospectively is quite strange, I must admit. I guess those are some decent career stats, but the one thing I really remember doing above all else is laughing.
There’s got to be a reason for all the laughing – I remember hearing somewhere that we smile when we learn. When something unexpected happens, we often smile. Good jokes are funny because the punchline is hidden, and when it is revealed, we laugh. When we play “peak-a-boo” with children, seeing our faces so quickly is new and surprising, and thus, they laugh. Unless you are ugly, at which point, the child cries. Maybe I made that up, but I’ll still believe it.
My personal growth and development throughout the club was tremendous. I met tons of people, from backgrounds that I had no idea existed. Getting outside with them was always full of adventure. Not only was the hike, paddle, climb, cave itself an experience, but getting to know someone else in that setting is quite beautiful. There is the thrill that comes with adventure that gives people an edge and it makes people feel so… natural. There is no pressure of who you are, what your history is, what your aspirations are. It’s just the group, and the activity. Sometimes – oftentimes – the activity is dangerous, and the better you accept your group, the easier the going will be. I certainly learned a lot throughout my time with the OC – about wilderness safety, group dynamics, trip preparation, but I learned the most about people – of myself and of those around me.
As I inched towards graduation, I knew that I wanted to continue helping people get outdoors. I wanted to continue exploring natural formations as a part of my job, I wanted to meet people and persuade them why doing anything – everything – we can to protect our environment is worth it. About a month before graduating, an email came in from a certain alumni. His company, which makes sustainably sourced, purposefully crafted outdoor clothing, was looking to expand into America. A camping trip in Utah later, I walked out with my newest role in the outdoors: starting the American branch of Klättermusen.
Do I have the magic answer? No. I’d be the first to tell you that no one in this world, as it turns out, really knows what they are doing. Maybe James Dick does, but that’s beside the point. The newest adventure of my life has been a lot tougher than I expected, but my way is to treat people fairly. To set common goals and work towards achieving them, and to communicate sincerely and often. Sure, this does not create the most amount of opportunities, but the opportunities it does create are the ones that matter.
I am happy – the Outing Club taught me to tolerate nothing less than happiness. I wake up every morning with a purpose, to sprinkle a little bit more of the Outing Club into Klättermusen, and to sprinkle a little bit more of Klättermusen into America. I am proud that our little Swedish brand has become official partners with the Outing Club – there will be many new exciting opportunities between our company across the pond and the OC!
Oh, and it is said that once you are a member of the Outing Club, you are a member for life. A few of us old timers took that saying and decided to carry the OC flag from base camp at the foot Half Dome in Yosemite all the way to the top! So, do not be worried that your time spent outdoors ends when you graduate. If the OC has taught me anything, it is the drive to pursue my passions relentlessly. I know I’m not the only one, either… There are a lot of alumni out there, from Sweden to DC, who still love to get outside!
Read more about Klattermusen and other Local Heroes like Lenny here: https: //www.klattermusen.com/en/stories