One bad Tinder date led to the creation of one of SUU’s fastest-growing clubs. The Women of the Outdoors Club was started by Jessica “H” Hanneman as a result of their frustrations with a lack of comfortable and welcoming opportunities for women and gender non-conforming individuals to explore the outdoors.
Hanneman loves rock climbing and often took to Tinder to find people to climb with. One particular date left them disappointed and feeling like there must be a better way to get outside.
“I really wish there was a girls group in town to go rock climbing with,” they thought.
That was enough for Hanneman to take matters into their own hands. They started the club and became president in September of 2020. Now, almost two years since the club’s creation, membership has grown from six people to over 50 and they are always welcoming new members.
Hanneman is proud of the strong community and safe space the club has created among its members.
The club “is geared specifically towards women who want to become comfortable in the outdoors without the fear of being judged,” they said.
The club meets on the first Tuesday of every month to plan activities and discuss what opportunities for adventure they want to pursue. These weekly events typically include hikes, bonfires and climbing at the Climbing Tower where they meet every Thursday.
“We are looking into [collaborating] with some other clubs on campus,” said Hanneman. One event they will start taking part in is the Sustainability Club’s Walk or Wheel Wednesday event. One Wednesday out of the month, students in these clubs commit to ditch their cars for these more eco-friendly modes of transportation.
Members are added to a group text on GroupMe where they often plan spur-of-the-moment hikes, hammocking sessions or skating activities.
“We have members from all walks of life with a variety of interests and we are able to come together and learn from each other,” said Vice-President Tessa Richins.
After joining the club in the fall of 2021, Richins became very involved in events and eventually the planning process. She was asked to step into a leadership role during the spring of 2022.
“My favorite thing about this club is how it can bring people together. It creates a safe space where you can make friends and not be afraid to try new things,” said Richins.
This summer, the club will host a kayaking and paddleboarding trip at Quail Creek State Park. While details are still in the works, this event will only be open to registered members. To join, visit the club’s page on T-Bird Connection.
Both Hanneman and Richins encourage anyone interested to follow the club’s Instagram where they often post updates and upcoming activities that are open to all.
“We’re all really friendly, we love when people show up,” said Hanneman.
Article by Lily Brunson
Photos courtesy of the Women of the Outdoors Club