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McGill Outdoors Club
The MOC house has plenty of space for members to stay, including a large kitechen, fireplace, and heating for chilly nights. (suburbanemma.blogspot.com)

Campus Spotlight: A club for nature-lovers

a/Student Living by

Founded in 1936, the McGill Students Outdoors Club (MOC) is among the oldest outdoor clubs in Montreal, specializing in the organization of nature-based outings.

With around 500 paying members last year and 2,000 people on its listserv, MOC is a Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) club that encourages outdoor recreational activities in order to deepen students’ appreciation of the environment. In fact, according to Bryony Logan, Vice-President Internal, MOC is currently working on a collaboration with Rez Life to start a new initiative to get first-year students more involved in Quebec’s outdoor life.

As a group, MOC has been known to introduce countless events and outings that cater to many. MOC offers an introductory trip on ice climbing, rock climbing for those who prefer warmer outings, and first-aid courses. Additionally, this September, MOC will offer chances to hike the Presidential Traverse or take a horseback-riding trip.

“Someone should join the MOC if they want to spend time away from the city, to try new outdoor activities such as rock-climbing or cross-country skiing, and to make friends who also enjoy going into the wilderness,” said Guillaume Labranche, a member of MOC.

“It’s a great way to have experiences that would either be difficult to put together on your own or difficult to fund on your own,” added Nate Solnit, rock climbing executive of MOC.

The group is unique in that it is the only club at the university with a house that is available for its members. The house is located in Shawbridge, Quebec, and has been used by the club since 1954. The venue accommodates many people, with rooms that can sleep up to 80 individuals. Visitors will enjoy a large kitchen, a fireplace, and, most importantly, heating in the winter.

Members may visit the house with up to two non-member friends, and enjoy on-site ski and snowshoe rentals to explore the surrounding area. Since acquiring the house, MOC has carved out trails that are ideal for hiking, exploring, and skiing.

MOC has had a 54-year lease on the house, which is rented from McGill. In 2008, McGill University decided to cut MOC’s  54-year lease on the house. To get full ownership of the residence, five MOC alumni members created Fondation Plein Air de Montréal (FPAM), a non-profit organization. In 2009, with the dedicated work of FPAM and massive campaign work of MOC members, FPAM gained full ownership of the house and has been renting the house to MOC ever since.

For a membership fee of $20, students are given the opportunity to take a break from their studies and explore nature in various forms. Some perks include low rates for gear rental, a membership to the Alpine Club of Canada, access to the MOC house, and organized club trips.

MOC does not limit membership to just McGill students. Students from other universities and everyday residents can also join. MOC offers an exciting medium to escape the McGill bubble and meet other locals in the outdoors.

Those interested can subscribe to the club’s listserv, which can be accessed through the MOC website. MOC also has an office in Room 436 at the SSMU Building. MOC will be hosting the New Members’ Weekend on Sept. 20 and 21 at the MOC house.

According to Solnit, MOC has a place for everyone. “Everyone comes from a differnet walk of life, everyone has stories to tell,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a great way to get out of the city on the weekend.”

Additional reporting by Natalie Wong.

A previous version of this article ran on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. The corrected version was updated Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. The Tribune regrets these errors.

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