Into the Wild, Santa Clara's outdoors and wilderness club, has done everything from hiking Castle Rock in the Santa Cruz Mountains to river rafting in Sacramento to snow-camping in Tahoe. What started out as a fun, sober alternative for drinking on Friday nights has now grown to become an organization that teaches students about the environment and encourages them to make sustainable choices while providing them with an enjoyable, easy way to get outdoors and explore.
Three years after its founding, Into The Wild has big plans for its future and encourages SCU faculty and staff to get involved.
“You really get to know your students on a whole different level when you’re sweating up a hill with them or rafting down a river,” said Bill Mains, Into the Wild faculty advisor and Leavey School of Business leadership lecturer.
SCU faculty and staff would have the potential to develop deeper relationships with their students as they hike switchbacks together or float down a river. By bringing members of the Santa Clara community together, the club moves forward with long-term goals of expansion and proactive adventuring.
Into the Wild’s river rafting trips first piqued student interest around campus. This past fall a record 42 Into the Wild members and outdoor enthusiasts drove up to Sacramento and spent a day rafting, swimming, and laughing down the American River. The next day the club hiked to University Falls where they could jump or slide down smooth, rushing waterfalls. Due to the rafting trip’s success, the club is currently planning two similar river rafting events for the spring, using the trips to emphasize sustainable initiatives.
“For future rafting trips we will have people speak to us about the impacts of dams and river pollution. We are trying to bring an educational aspect to it, mostly in attempts to bring awareness to current environmental issues that impact the club,” said Andrew Noonan, Into The Wild president. “We feel it is important to protect the places where we play and we want the message to be heard.”
Into the Wild club members pride themselves on their strong ties to sustainability initiatives at SCU. Part of club trips includes meeting park rangers, who talk to members about preserving natural environments or teach outdoor survival skills clinics. This aspect of Into the Wild’s outdoor explorations encourages knowledge of and passion for nature.
“At Santa Clara you can have all this education thrown at you but it doesn’t really mean anything until you can experience it,” said Noonan.
Since its beginning, Into the Wild has had a taste of success and continues to grow. The club hopes to begin chartering trips for on-campus groups like sports teams, other clubs, and even faculty members. Into the Wild also hopes to incorporate their programming and healthy, sustainable lifestyle choices into key University moments, such as providing Freshmen Orientation trips or University Leadership retreats, similar to those available at Whitman College and Dartmouth University. Into the Wild eventually hopes to join Campus Recreation where they could serve as the go-to club for all things outdoors, receiving more funding and a full-time staff to help coordinate trips.
The club “allows SCU students to try things they may never have tried otherwise, develop a deeper appreciation of and concern for the natural world, and forge meaningful and long-lasting friendships,” said Sachit Egan, the club’s founder.
To contact Into the Wild, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to join to mailing list.