When I got back to South Bend in September, I was relieved to discover that the temperatures in Indiana were significantly higher than at Toolik Field Station. I immediately began planning outdoor events through the South Bend Adventure club.
The South Bend Adventure Club (SBAC) was something Kerry and I threw together about a year ago. We were going on outdoor trips each weekend, so we thought it would be fun to try to find like-minded people and invite them. After a bit of networking and social media tinkering, we had a facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/479849925413088/) with about 200 people. Since then the group has slowly gained notoriety in town and we’ve managed to meet some pretty cool people through it. My goal is to spread outdoors culture and appreciation for nature in South Bend and give people the resources and incentive to go on fun trips.
Since it’s start, SBAC has gone hiking, canoeing, kayaking, rock-climbing, caving, mushroom hunting, geocaching, tobogganing, river cleaning, and more. Most of the trips are not particularly far, in fact many take place within the city limits. Everything is beginner-friendly and even kid-friendly. I want to show people how easy and cheap going on trips can be. I created another blog, Outside the Bend (http://www.outsidethebend.com), that includes a detailed guide to the outdoor destinations in the area and stories of recent trips we’ve been doing with the club. Thus far I’ve been organizing all of the trips, but I hope to eventually get other members to take the initiative to post their own trips so that the group can be self-sustaining after I move away.
One of my favorite books is Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. It’s about what Louv calls nature deficit disorder, the lack of exposure to the outdoors in youth and the negative consequences that come out of it. Getting people, especially kids, on trips is a great way to instill a conservation ethic in them. More and more people are growing up in urban environments and not being exposed to nature. If you live in or near South Bend, I encourage you to sign up and come on a trip with us. If you live somewhere else, find a similar club. If one doesn’t exist, make your own! It doesn’t cost a thing and it only takes about five minutes: all you have to do is make a facebook group, add everyone in town you know, and start posting trips. Look at SBAC’s page or my old club OAR (ufadventure.com) for ideas.
Here’s another good read on this topic: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/07/education-children-not-feral-enough#comments
Some pictures from various SBAC trips.