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Post-pandemic boost

The Dalhousie University Outdoors Society aims to encourage students to take part in outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. But during the pandemic, they couldn’t host as many activities as they would have hoped.  

This decline in activity has led to them accumulating roughly $20,000 in extra funds over the pandemic. Now, they plan on using it to update and expand their gear library. 

The decision to invest that money into equipment came because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The society had struggled to adapt their in-person activities into a virtual environment, no matter how strange that might sound. 

“It was really challenging,” Geneva Bahen, gear library co-ordinator for the society, said. “A lot of the older members of the executive had graduated and, with COVID, we weren’t allowed to run any events that had any kind of connection to Dal, which is hard because we’re mostly an events-based society.” 

“We tried to brainstorm some things we could do online, but we definitely experienced a lack of engagement. There were not a lot of ideas that we could come up with for how to entertain people online.” 

Last semester, it took the society a couple of months to regroup and reorganize after finally being allowed to continue in-person activities. Once they resumed, they were again shut down because of COVID-19, which led to an unplanned increase in their budget for the upcoming semester. 

“We just ended up getting a huge surplus of money that hasn’t been spent in the last two and a half years,” the society’s director of community outreach Sam Cutcliffe said. “This is a very unique time, probably the only time that this society existed that we would have a huge amount of money to not only update the gear library but expand it past the introductory camping stuff, to more intermediate to expert things.” 

Cutcliffe is also the editor-in-chief of The Dalhousie Mackerel, which is currently engaged in a publishing agreement with the Dalhousie Gazette.  

How to use their equipment 

The gear library rents supplies and gear for camping and sports to Dal students through their website, daloutdoors.myturn.com/library. Cutcliffe said the library’s equipment can be accessed for rentals when one makes an account with a Dal student ID number and email.  

Once the equipment user chooses what equipment they would like and their request is approved, a society member typically arranges to meet the renter with the equipment at the Student Union Building. 

 “Usually, the rental is about one week and there’s no limit to how many things you can rent, so you can send one person to go pick up the camping gear for all of your friends to go out,” Cutcliffe said. “We just ask for a $20 deposit to guarantee people return their rentals in a timely fashion.” 

 Regardless of changes in restrictions and COVID-19 activity, they are usually still able to run the gear library. So, the Outdoors Society has decided to invest in providing students with the resources to go outside even when they cannot take them themselves. 

“Getting people outside with our trips is a priority, but we wanted to turn it around and help people get out on their own, especially with COVID,” Bahen said. 

They still plan on hosting trips of their own and are optimistic about the coming months. 

“We, actually, for the first time in a while have around five upcoming trips organized, which is exciting after so long,” Bahen said. “We have a lot of really fun things planned that we’ve been waiting on and it feels like we’re rounding the corner.” 


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