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This year, CMC’s Outdoor Initiative Club is using increased DOS funding and a partnership with a national nonprofit to expand their club and increase its presence on campus.

A group of CMC students started OI in 2014 to create opportunities for outdoor exploration in Southern California by leading weekly trips off-campus and longer trips during school breaks.

This year the Outdoor Initiative club, led by Brian Chmelik ’18, has access to more funding from DOS and aims to increase its presence on campus by leading more trips in addition to participating in an outdoor competition for campuses across the country last semester. According to OI’s PR manager, Maia Adar ‘18, these initiatives have been very successful.

The Forum spoke with Chmelik to hear what he anticipates OI will achieve this year. Chmelik hopes to – and says the club is on pace to — increase the number of trips OI leads, including both weekly trips as well as fall, Thanksgiving and spring break trips. As Chmelik explained, “These trips range from day hikes into the mountains just north of campus to overnight camping and backpacking all over Southern California.” The increase in funding from Dean of Students also allows OI leaders to take more ambitious trips with more students, all while keeping the club free for everyone.

In addition to increasing the number of trips, OI participated in an eight week challenge through College Outside, because CMC was a host school for the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge. The benefits of this challenge included free gear – everything from water bottles to backpacks – on OI trips for all participants. One of the most popular trips of the semester was the Mt. Baldy Summit Challenge. According to Chmelik, “24 students were able to summit Mt. Baldy in one day and [OI] provided prizes to the top finishers as well as those who posted their summit pictures on social media.” These prizes acted as incentives for more students to participate in OI’s outdoor trips and activities, a success they saw burgeon in the first semester.

With the club’s recent success, this semester’s trips are sure to continue to involve lots of exciting and fun explorations through the California outdoors, including the Alternative Spring Break trip to Catalina Island next month. Looking forward, Chemelik is excited for the coming year. “It’s an exciting time for OI,” he said. “We are looking at lots of growth into 2017.”