While most college students get iPhones and game consoles for their birthdays, Outlanders club members get tents — tents that sleep 13 people and have porches.
The Outlanders club is all about enjoying the outdoors through camping, hiking and kayaking and consists of around 40 members who meet the first Tuesday of each month.
“I would like everybody to experience it once,” said Nick Fernandez, co-president of the club. “People say they’ve never gone camping before and it astonishes me because it’s just so much fun.”
The club goes on various trips — all of which are covered through the club dues — throughout the semester, and members are free to gather on their own and go on trips that are not club affiliated.
“This past winter we went up to Georgia and hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail,” said Nick Muth, the club’s treasurer. “It was well below freezing a couple of the days, and it was interesting to experience that weather.”
Every spring break, club members get together and go camping at the beach as well.
According to a study published in Psychological Science, immersion in nature allows our brains to take a break from the constant stimulation we get from everyday life.
“Academically, it’s great for stress,” said co-president Brooks Mitchell, a junior communications major. “The exercise and the fresh air — it all comes together.”
“The close friendships and experiences that we share help us in an emotional way. It’s a tight-knit group of friends that’s always growing,” Mitchell said.
Fernandez, a junior mechanical engineering major, said that he joined Outlanders club because he went to a small high school and found the number of students at UCF to be overwhelming.
“It felt so great to finally meet people,” Fernandez said. “I want other people to experience this.”
At the end of a day filled with challenging hikes, the members like to wind down and have fun.
“We told campfire ghost stories one time and creeped some of the members out,” Fernandez said. “It was really funny.”
“It’s nice to connect,” said Muth, a junior business management major. “It feels good to share a passion with somebody else.”
On Jan. 23, the club is going hiking on the Florida Trail along the Econlockhatchee River. This is the first of many trips the club will be going on this semester, including single-day trips.
Club members include both expert hiking aficionados and beginners. During trips, the club will often split up so that the beginners don’t feel pressured to keep up with the pros.
“Be open to the outdoors and realize it’s going to be a little bit of a struggle,” Fernandez said. “You’re in the wilderness, and it’s the coolest thing in the world.”
Ready to help new members, the club provides all kinds of gear, and many members have backpacks ready to go with everything you could ever need on a camping trip. Some members even have their own tents — porches included.