For decades, lovers of nature and outdoors have united under the Rollins Outdoors Club.
Over the course of 34 years, a legion of diverse Rollins College students have trekked the trails of South and North Florida, swam in their reflections through the cooling waters of crystal blue creeks, and given unto Mother Earth appreciation and love for all she has birthed, uniting through strong brother and sisterhood under the name of ROC, Rollins Outdoors Club.
A 1990 issue of the Orlando Sentinel embarks on a story of ROC, opening with, “Playing volleyball or going to a dance are two ways for Rollins College students to make friends. Hang gliding, snow skiing or rock climbing are others. Guess which way members of the Rollins Outdoor Club prefer. The club was formed about 10 years ago when John Langfitt, director of Campus Ministries and assistant dean of Knowles Memorial Chapel, recognized a need for students to get away from the repetitive social life many of them fall into.” ROC holds an impactful presence on the campus of Rollins College, known formerly as an active campus organization dedicated to broadening community awareness and enjoyment of outdoor activities. ROC members, also known as ROCers, resided in Lyman Hall and hosted the once infamous annual ROC Games that united fraternities, sororities, and other campus organizations in competitive celebratory competitions. Not much has changed since those days, aside from the ROCers no longer residing in Lyman Hall (although they did have a section of Elizabeth hall last year for housing), but on campus there has seemed to be a silence from the club. Recited rumors and queries in regards to the organization, however, have been reversed as ROC yet again emerges onto the scene and receives a lot of positivity and praise. The members of ROC are in the process of reestablishing its name, rebuilding its recognition, and revisiting its immortal history to once again hold that strong presence on campus.
Unlike some organizations, ROC possess not only a vast, but active and engaging Alumni base that reiterates the greatness of the organization and the role it played in Rollins graduates’ undergrad years. Rhonda Neuhaus ’97 reminisced on her love for the college and fondness for ROC from her days of living amongst other ROCers in Lyman Hall for three years. Neuhaus ‘97 shared that she had taken a pre-orientation trip to North Carolina “that was wonderful,” and took part in kayaking adventures, trips to the Florida Keys, survival weekends, and even skiing in Colorado over spring break. James Tullis ’91 said, “I didn’t participate in most of the ROC endeavors, however, every spring there was a group that would go to Wekivia springs, canoe to Shell Island and spend the night. It always seemed like perfect timing as I would be taking things for granted at that point in the year. Amazing how a weekend away from Rollins sure made you appreciate a hot shower in the Frat house and a hot meal from Beans.” Sentiments and cherished memories like these are solidifying evidence of the power a great organization can have. Tullis ‘91 ended by saying, “…funny, I haven’t thought about ROC in decades, but writing this has put a smile on my face. Thanks! I have a high school junior that is looking heavily at Rollins, I’m glad to hear that ROC is still in existence and I hope his memories will be as fond as mine.”
As the year progresses for ROC, it is exciting to see where it will go and what influence it will have on its members’ lives. Not a hiatus, just a little silent; not a comeback, but a restoration. From swimming the pristine waters of Blues Springs to inhaling the burning of fresh wood for campfires, ROC inaugurates a new year with more outdoor activities, more members, more community involvement, and more facilitation of its inherent interest in environmental sustainability. Hop on board Saturdays at 12:01 p.m. on Mills Lawn, and take heed to what was once said by John Muir: “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ROC on, ROC hard, ROC steady, Rollins.