The Best Nest: Outdoor Education’s Base Camp

Eliza Graham

Base Camp, the headquarters of Outdoor Education (OE), is not only a practical space for one of Colgate’s most active and dynamic organizations, but it also serves as a haven for its members. Base Camp consists of a large, central space with one main sitting area and several smaller ones, with a stone fireplace in its center. Stemming off of this central space are several doors that lead to offices and a kitchen. Its walls are wood-paneled and its ceiling has exposed wooden beams, giving it the feel of a cabin or a lodge. Patterned curtains hang from the windows; paper snowflakes and a disco ball hang from the ceiling. A pair of snowshoes and a vintage print of Hamilton hang above a desk with a computer, and a wooden oar hangs above the back door, which leads onto a porch. This space is where members plan day and weekend trips, and where participants are trained for these trips. Below this space, downstairs, is a supply room filled with outdoor gear. Besides the practical role Base Camp serves, it is also used as a recreational space for OE members and their friends.

“Apart from its institutional uses, Base Camp also serves as a space for studying, cooking, spontaneous movie nights and just hanging out by the fire,” first-year and OE member Clare Schneider said. Base Camp is a comfortable and functional space that also possesses the charm of a wilderness getaway. In fact, upon entering Base Camp, I feel transported away from the Colgate campus and into a retreat deep in the woods. It is not surprising, then, that OE members have such deep bonds with one another, as their space is conducive not only to their activities but also to free time well spent in each other’s company.

1) How does this space reflect OE’s personal style or personality?

There is always a lot going on in base camp (meetings, P.E. classes, people hanging out and doing homework, etc.) so it always looks very busy. We have some old skis and snowshoes up on the walls, a big New York state map, and leftover decorations from our holiday party on the walls that reflect the personality of OE. Base Camp is generally a really comfortable and cozy place to hang out.

2) Tell me about one particularly important item in this space.

On the mantle above the fireplace we have a wooden sign that says, “Learn to teach, teach to learn,” which is the motto of Outdoor Education. We spend a lot of time developing our leadership and teaching skills, but also learn a ton from our experiences teaching OE classes and leading Wilderness Adventure trips for first-year students.

 3) Where/from whom did the group get its inspiration?

Definitely from the outdoors. Base camp kind of feels like a ski lodge and reflects the activities that we all like to do. It’s also a very welcoming space where we like to hang out, relax and do work.