State Legislature, North Pole skier help Outing Club celebrate 90th

Founded in 1920 to get students out of doors during the long Maine winter, the Bates Outing Club celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. Two events this week kick off the organization’s yearlong birthday celebration.

The Maine Legislature honored the student organization with a Legislative Sentiment on Tuesday, Jan. 26, during a ceremony at the State House, in Augusta, that included Gov. John Baldacci and Lewiston’s delegation to Augusta.

Maine Public Broadcasting Network reports on the BOC event in Augusta.

Later in the week, Tyler Fish, a Bates alumnus and one of the first Americans to complete an unsupported cross-country ski expedition to the North Pole, visits the college to discuss this grueling journey at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, in Chase Hall Lounge, 56 Campus Ave. The talk is open to the public at no charge. For more information, please call 207-755-5990.

Fish, a member of the Bates class of 1996, and companion John Huston skied a distance of 500 miles in just under 60 days to reach the pole last year. Beginning their journey on Ward Hunt Island, the northernmost point in North America, the pair hauled more than 600 pounds of supplies and gear without any outside help or food drops. They eventually reached their destination on April 25, 2009, 10 hours ahead of an April 26 deadline imposed by the availability of flights out.

The pair kept an audio blog that describes almost every day of the journey.

In Augusta, meanwhile, Outing Clug members visited the State House for a photo opportunity with Baldacci, the Lewiston delegation to the Legislature and Bates alumni who work in the State House or serve in the Legislature.The sentiment was read at 10 a.m. in the House of Representatives by Clerk of the House Millicent MacFarland. The lead sponsor of the measure, Rep. Margaret Rotundo (D-Lewiston), followed the reading with remarks from the House floor.

The BOC, founded in January 1920, is among the oldest collegiate outing clubs in the country and believed to be the first at a private college to include both men and women from its beginning. One of the club’s most notable achievements was to extend the Appalachian Trail into Maine in the 1930s, where it now terminates at Mount Katahdin.

The club is one of the few remaining organizations of its kind that is completely student-run. It provides outdoor activities and access to equipment to its participants. Members of the Bates Outing Club often go on to careers in the fields of outdoors and experiential education, exploration, natural and environmental sciences, and other adventurous pursuits. Every year the club also hosts parts of Bates’ Winter Carnival and two clambakes — popular campus-wide events.

Typical BOC activities include hiking, skiing, canoeing, snowshoeing, rock-climbing and camping. Individual interests have expanded the breadth of activity, and over the years ice climbing, kayaking, surfing and snowboarding have all been added to the range of the club’s outdoor endeavors.

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