When I was making a decision of where to go to graduate school, the deciding factor that attracted me to Presidio was the outstanding community. It is very inspiring to spend one’s days surrounded by passionate and talented individuals who are all working toward the audacious goal of making the world a better place. One of the ways that Presidio helps foster its community is through its clubs. With 13 clubs to choose from, ranging from the Clean Technology Club to the International Sustainability Club, there really is something for everybody.
Coming from Alaska I was immediately attracted to the Outdoor Club. There is something so gratifying about spending an afternoon hiking through a forest, breathing in the fresh pine air and taking in majestic vistas. As a grad student, it is easy to get wrapped up in all of our assignments that get stacked up throughout the semester and forget to make time for ourselves to get away from the computer screen and reconvene with nature. As a co-chair of the Outdoor Club this semester I enjoyed working with my fellow co-chairs to create opportunities for our friends and fellow students to break away and have some fun together doing something that doesn’t involve writing a 10-page paper. The Outdoor Club organizes two types of events throughout the semester: decompression and overnight adventures.
Once a month Presidio has a four-day session of all-day classes called residency. Students are in class all day from 9-5 listening to lectures, performing presentations and meeting with their teams. By the end of residency weekend, most of us are completely wiped and could really use a break to recharge. The Outdoor Club plans activities for the Monday after residency so that people can spend time with each other outside of the classroom and have some fun. This semester we organized an afternoon at the Planet Granite rock gym, an evening bonfire on Pacific Beach, a hike along the San Francisco coastline, and a group bike ride through the city. We had a lot of fun cutting loose and doing things that we normally wouldn’t do.
Semester Camping Trip
Each semester the Outdoor Club plans a long weekend away from the city. This September it was a four-day camping trip at a state campground in Humboldt County. I had never been to the redwoods and was in complete awe by their gigantic size and the way that they smell! We brought our bicycles and had a great time doing day trips to the different redwood groves around our campground. Our campground ranger, Cindy, was really excited when we told her about Presidio and our sustainable mission. She helped us organize a scavenger hunt, which took us on a journey through a nearby grove where we had to find different clues to get to the end. Once we all completed the scavenger hunt and solved the riddle, we were awarded badges from the visitor center. You would have thought that we were all a bunch of elementary school kids by how excited we were for those badges! In the evenings we all made dinner together and sat around the campfire singing along to the guitars and ukuleles that we brought up. We even managed to have a dance party one evening with some portable speakers that somebody brought up. I wasn’t a fan of Hall & Oates before, but now the song I Can’t Go For That brings a smile to my face as I picture us all dancing around the campfire, wagging our fingers along with the lyrics.
The best part about all these activities with the Outdoor Club is that is an opportunity to bring students together who might not otherwise meet or get to know each other. I loved that on our camping trip we had three new students who were just starting their Presidio careers. I was able to spend time with them getting to know them and indoctrinating them into the enthusiastic Presidio community. I also got to know some other students who I had spent time with in class, but now feel like we are good friends.
I know that a few years down the road after I graduate, I probably won’t remember the details of each residency or all the assignments that I turned in, but I will remember my time hiking in the woods with my friends. I will still laugh at all the inside jokes that we came up with under the redwood canopy. And I will definitely wag my finger to Hall & Oates. It’s these experiences that make Presidio an exceptional place to be.