Binghamton Outdoor Pursuits has its roots in the Newing Outing Club, dating back to the days when recently retired biology professor Augie Mueller was faculty master for Newing College. Bill Horvath '89, PhD '95, a chemist at Procter & Gamble, traces his involvement in the program back to those days, too: he and Mueller were both mainstays of the club.
Donna Lahti, then a faculty member in Physical Education, took the idea of that club and ran with it. With the support of her friends, Mueller and Horvath, she developed the BOP program in 1992. Lahti hired Teresa "Birdie" High as the program's assistant director in 1996 and passed the baton to her when Lahti became director of Health and Physical Education in 1999.
Now, High coordinates BOP's programming together with Michael Zuber, BOP's program specialist, instructor for the program's bicycling, canoeing, winter camping and backpacking courses and rental center manager, and Michael Cecere, part-time backpacking and hiking instructor.
When High came on board, her first chore was to gather all the equipment Mueller had accumulated over the years. With that collection of tents and sleeping bags, and a small budget to buy backpacks, she started the program's equipment rental service. The BOP Rental Center has grown since then and now offers tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, skis, snowshoes and more. Students, faculty and staff are all eligible to rent this equipment.
High also developed the program's credit-bearing classes, something Binghamton is unique in offering. Students are required to complete one wellness credit and one activity credit. Some BOP classes count as either, while some count just as activity credits. One class, Backcountry Medicine, counts for both.
Enrollment in BOP courses is generally limited to between 9 and 14 participants, and courses usually fill up quickly, said Zuber. "In fact, we often have to turn people away -- even for winter camping, in February, and for the long trips, such as the Canada canoe trip in August and the Okefenokee canoe trip in March during spring break," he said.