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Sparking a fire: The legacy of the Rollins Outdoor Club

Photos courtesy of the Rollins Archives

Throughout Rollins history, there have been many different clubs that promote healthy lifestyles. Rollins Outdoor Club was one of the original clubs at Rollins that promoted active involvement on and off campus. Although the club has since become defunct, many of the current organizations on campus still carry on the legacy of the club.  

Founded in 1981, the Rollins Outdoor Club was created when John Langfitt, director of Campus Ministries, saw a need for students to have a space to relax from their studies and learn more about the world around them. The purpose of the club was to, “broaden community awareness & enjoyment of the environment by sponsoring outdoor activities, [hosting] an annual event open to the entire Rollins community, and making outdoor equipment available to the entire Rollins community and offering instructions in its proper use and care.”  

One of their many outdoor activities were camping trips that helped bring together members of the club. In Sandspur Vol. 87, an anonymous student recalls the events of the Second Annual Sullivan House Survival Trip hosted by the Rollins Outdoor Club in 1981. The students met with a naturalist before the trip to learn about back-packing techniques and other survival tips. Each camper took a poncho (to make a tent with), a sleeping bag, a change of clothes, a pocketknife, and a toothbrush. In addition to these supplies, the students also took two live rabbits to kill and cook — they were not allowed to kill any animals at the Tosohatchee State Reserve.  

The students hiked down a two-mile trail to their campsite where they made camp and prepared their meals. As they reflected on their trip, one of the campers, Pat Carbonara, said, “It was neat learning how to build a fire from flint and steel.” These camping trips helped teach students practical skills that they might not learn in a classroom.  

The Rollins Outdoor Club also hosted an annual sports event called the Outdoor Games. Some of the events included canoe jousting, log rolling, rope climbing, and an obstacle course.  These events were made to bring together the campus community.  

The founder of the Rollins Outdoor Club, John Langfitt, expressed the purpose of these events. He stated, “It’s a good thing for [students from out of state] who don’t know what the Florida environment is like. Once you’re familiar with what’s here, you can pick what you want to do.” The Rollins Outdoor Club sought to welcome all new students from across campus through community games and outdoor trips.  

This organization sought to be a club in which many different aspects of Rollins College were highlighted. To achieve this goal, they required that each member represent, “alternate areas of academic study either through their major field or other related activities in theatre, art, or music.” 

Just like Rollins seeks for its students to become global citizens, the R.O.C. wanted its members to be well-rounded students. It was also interested in their members’ personal development. Each member was required to present on a topic of interest that related to their major as well as help organize their annual events.  

The Rollins Outdoor Club provides an excellent example of the virtues and ideals that Rollins students want to see within the student body. Many current organizations such as Eco Rollins and Pinehurst continue these values of growth and community. The R.O.C. demonstrates the Rollins student body’s long-term commitment to building a welcoming community that helps every member grow. 

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