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Outing Club

Smith Outing Club

Sometime in the 1920s, a Smith student wrote the following poem about weekend life in the Club’s first cabin on Chestnut Mountain between Williamsburg and North Hatfield:

Breath of the morning blown across the field, Scent of the hemlocks sweet with summer Colors of autumn which the maples yield Coolness of sound where the brook’s clean waters run–

Feather of cabin smoke against the sky, Sound of a lonely church bell far away, Peace that is mine on the hilltop where I lie– Peace of the autumn–strength of the rising day.

Whether by celebrating Mountain Day in the fall, or by taking ‘bacon bats’ on Mount Tom during the weekends, Smith women and the outdoors have always gone together. The Outing Club, first established in 1922, provided Smith women with an opportunity to take local hikes, stay overnight on Saturday nights (with an upperclass chaperone), and to find “comradeship of the evenings around a fire.” As interest in the Club grew, opportunities expanded for hiking, canoeing, skiing, and a larger cabin called Brook Cabin was opened in 1926 overlooking Horse Mountain. Campers reached the cabins by motoring in open, hay-covered trucks and then hiked into the woods to their destination. Freshmen were encouraged to join the Outing Club through open dinners on Friday nights, where they could miss their usual house meal, and enjoy a steak, doughnuts, and coffee.

Spring camping trips, local and to the Appalachian and Shenandoah Mountains, were offered beginning in 1926, as were winter camping, skiing, and snowshoe trips to the White Mountains, under the direction of female faculty in the Hygiene and Physical Education department, notably, Abby Snow Belden ‘18. Even fox hunts at Thanksgiving were sponsored by the Club.

As the 1930s progressed, Smith participated in camping and biking trips with other colleges, including Vassar, Yale, and Dartmouth. Smith hosted a number of Intercollegiate Outing Club Association meetings where members of outing clubs gathered to discuss topics and issues of interest. Lectures by nationally known athletes were presented at the meetings. Those attending would go on local hikes and camp at Smith’s cabins.

Throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s the Outing Club looked to further broaden the opportunities it could provide to its members. Equipment rentals, square dances, first-aid courses, strawberry festivals, hostel-group trips, and ski carnavals were offered by the Club. In the 1970s, trips to the Adirondack Mountains, lectures on traveling in India, seminars on ski-waxing, and moonlight cross-country skiing were part of Club activities. The Club survived changing interests, and still operates on campus today, along with other outdoor programs.

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