• Sophia Apteker

A Chat with Caitilin Leonowicz: Vice President of the UMass Outing Club

At her older brother’s college graduation party, Caitilin Leonowicz was first introduced to the UMass Outing Club, or UMOC. It was by her brother’s friends, all of whom were four years older and previous members, and they reflected upon their involvements with steadfast enthusiasm.

Their gusto planted a UMOC seed in the back of Caitlin’s head. In the spring of her freshman year, she chose to nurture it.

Caitlin has been a member of the UMass Outing Club since that spring, but she became more active in the fall of her sophomore year. Now, as a senior, Caitlin is vice president of the club and a cross country ski chair.

As much as she loves her cross country excursions — zipping around the campus pond and down Orchard Hill while receiving looks from those passing by — one of her favorite trips was during a previous fall, around Thanksgiving, when she and five others set off on a backpacking trip in the Adirondacks for three days.

While the trip had a rocky start (no pun intended), with minimal sleep leading to a brutal first hike, the outing quickly shifted into something rather lovely.

The following day, Caitlin walked through a flat pass that resembled a “magical little wonderland.” There was stargazing. There was mac and cheese in parking lots. And there was an utter closeness that pulled the group together in a way that only the outdoors could do.

Outside of UMOC, Caitlin enjoys spending her time writing poetry and taking photographs. She usually doesn’t find herself drifting towards particular topics or themes, and pretty much goes with the flow, but she does have a particular appreciation for taking portraits of people. You can check out some of her photos here.

After last year's trips were suspended due to COVID-19, the Outing Club now hopes to be in full swing. Through TeamApp, members will soon be able to sign up for events like hiking, rafting, climbing, backpacking, and caving.

“It’s a great outlet to help you focus on yourself and self improvement,” Caitlin noted.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the UMass Amherst Outing Club, you are encouraged to attend the kickoff meeting on Sept. 23 from 6-7:30 p.m. on the Student Union lawn.

And if you’re looking to channel some of your outdoorsy energy, you can listen to this “take a hike” playlist on Spotify created in collaboration with UMOC.

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