The Jewish Outdoors Club traces its roots to the early summer of 1996
The History of
The Jewish Outdoor Club
traces its roots to the early summer of 1996 when I, along with a group of four friends celebrated
our graduation from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia by doing what
every college grad does -- embark on a three day trek through
the Delaware Water Gap. This outing was to portend JOC trips for years to come,
as we were woefully unprepared, and got hopelessly lost late into the night.
Fortunately, a forest ranger, Dan, saved our butts. Despite our harrowing
adventure, we knew that we had discovered something wonderful and vowed to
continue our pursuit of outdoor adventures, only with extra batteries for our
flashlights the next time.
Several people heard about this adventure and said that they'd be interested in
these kinds of outings. So, in the Fall of 1996, a small telephone
tree and word of mouth at the OZ Friday night scene led to a group outing
to play paintball, or painball, as it should be called (especially
for the lawyers in the group) followed by a hike that Fall. On that hike, 12 Upper
West Siders went on a grueling, 10 hour long hike at Breakneck Ridge
near Cold Springs, NY. It was on that adventure that this hike leader learned that 5 inches
on the trail map is different from five inches of trail.
As word spread,
more and more people asked to be able to join the fun and adventure,
and the Jewish Outdoors Club, as we now called ourselves, became affiliated with the synagogue,
Kehilat Orach Eliezer (KOE), in Manhattan. Thus, JOC went
from being a "Modern Orthodox" group to a "Post-denominational
group", which means the same thing. In the summer of 1997,
43 KOEers trekked to Lambs Hill; the first
mass publicized JOC adventure. Because of the large group size,
the crew split up into two groups, which was a good thing because
this way, only half the hikers encountered the deadly rattlesnake.
This is now standard on all large hikes. (Splitting up, not rattlesnakes).
In 1998, the JOC put together its first email list, which
was later transferred over to yahoogroups. Through word of mouth, the JOC grew
from its small beginnings with a few dozen members to a major organization with
over 1500 people on the email list, though this does include Aqu Nyikuben who
keeps trying to post about his Nigerian Gold Mine. Anyway, last year, the Boston
Jewish Outdoors Club (BJOC) was formed by two ex-JOCers, which was our first
step toward franchising ourselves all over America en route to taking over the
world (shhh, don't tell). To manage our growth here in the tri-state area, the
JOC recently became a non-profit corporation run by a board of directors that
sets the vision for the club, and organizes events.
We look forward to continued success in bringing Jews to
explore, experience, and appreciate the great outdoors.