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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Adventuring away to find community

ALEXIS ALBERINI / COURTESY
ALEXIS ALBERINI / COURTESY

Students bond over their love for escaping stress, embracing nature

Mountain cabin trips and snow sports are things both UC Davis Outdoor Adventures (OA) and the Ski or Snowboard Club (SOS) look forward to in winter months. But for these outdoor enthusiasts, the significance of winter extends beyond spending a day on the slopes.

Ayla Lebovitz, a second-year psychology major and backpacking and rafting guide, has many years of extensive outdoor recreation experience. Two years ago, Lebovitz gravitated toward the club due to its dynamic community and because of her love of nature and adventurous sports.

“I like to describe OA as an outdoor program for the school, but it’s so much more than that because it’s a community if you choose to make it that,” Lebovitz said. “We go kayaking or rafting probably three to four times a week, but besides that we go out to pizza once a month, have homecomings and proms, as well as Thanksgiving dinner together.”

Both students and non-students alike can join the program, and each person can decide how involved they are depending on personal preferences. Lebovitz values the tight-knit community of OA so much that she lives with eight OA members and is constantly absorbed in the excitement of the outdoor community and in planning the next adventure.

“We bond by doing a lot of adventurous things together, but we also have the other events on a daily basis that create this really fun, epic community within itself,” Lebovitz said.

Classic OA trips are backpacking in Point Reyes and Yosemite throughout Fall Quarter, a spring break trip to the Grand Canyon, sea kayaking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing in Tahoe and rafting in the American River.

“It’s really awesome to be able to leave Davis, and it’s so helpful to remove yourself from school and just get away,” Lebovitz said. “The memories and the friends you make are for life, and it’s really nice to have an outlet from school and be in such a surreal state of mind.”

SOS is a campus-affiliated social club that takes mountain cabin trips during the winter and is open to anyone who wants to join. Skiers and snowboarders of all levels are welcome, and the club encourages people who do not do either to go on the trips to learn how. Despite each member’s winter sport preference, the social environment and love for getting outside is common for all 500 SOS members.

SOS has a core leadership staff of 20 people who are constantly spending time together, whether that be going on small weekend trips or just cooking dinner together. Abbo Nathan, a second-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major and secretary of SOS, had never seen snow before college, but is now a passionate staff member and winter sport enthusiast.

According to Nathan, pulling off a 40 to 60 person cabin trip is a great feeling of accomplishment.

“We spend so much time together, so we are bound to get to know everyone [on staff] really well,” Nathan said. “However, there is a lot of problem-solving that goes into planning the trips that just one person cannot do all alone, so we have to work together really well.”

Mia Reynolds, a second-year marine and coastal science major and SOS staff member, set straight the common misconception that SOS is not school-oriented by explaining that on trips, many members will sacrifice a day on the slopes to go to a coffee shop to study or finish assignments.

“If you really want to go out but you have school work you need to get done too, there are always people that will do that with you because everyone works hard and takes school very seriously,” Reynolds said. “At the end of the day, we’re taking a trip out of school and spending the day in a beautiful place with a bunch of people you have something in common with. There is no way to be unhappy on the mountain because it’s such a great stress relief.”

Lebovitz, Nathan and Reynolds all believe that getting a break from stressful school or work environments by going into nature is a perfect way to make new friends and continue bonding with old ones, which brings the outdoor community closer.

“A reason why people are drawn to the club and why we’re drawn to each other is that we all share this need to not be in the stressful college environment all the time,” Nathan said. “We love Davis, but going up to the mountains has a completely different vibe because instead of seeing Davis farms and buildings, you see trees and mountains and get an overstimulation of fresh air and being with friends.”

Lebovitz sees outdoor trips as a great getaway from the everyday monotony of being a college student.

“Being away from technology and these distractions for two days is a feeling I don’t know how to even describe in words,” Lebovitz said. “It’s one of those things where you have to experience it personally to understand it and to just know that it’s there. I feel like […] our generation especially is so wrapped up in the past or the future and we don’t pay enough attention to the present.”

Written by: Gillian Allen — features@theaggie.org

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