Club Profile: the Outdoor’s Club


Rod Benson

Zane Roush, Head Writer

What club offers rock climbing and skiing? What club offers moonlight hikes on Mount Helena and overnight kayaking trips? That’s right, the Outdoors Club of Helena High! In the past, under the oversight of Mr. Hussey, the Outdoors Club was focused on activities like hunting and fishing. About 6 years ago, Mr. Benson volunteered to lead a moonlight hike over Helena, and slowly took over control of the club. Under his leadership the club was moved towards where it is today. Along the way he picked up Mr. McKim and Mr. Lynn as co-advisors. Today, Benson, McKim, and Lynn offer their numerous outdoor expertises to the student of the club, each bringing something unique.


Benson, who enjoys photography and making intricate PowerPoints, brings his love for hiking to the club, leading students on various hikes around the region. These include moonlight hikes on Mount Helena on certain Friday nights, hiking up Crown Butte, and, by far the most popular, the hike to the nose of the Sleeping Giant. Attendance on the hikes vary from 3 to 33, but Benson will tell you, regardless of the number, he is happy to be in the hills with his border collie, Missy. During the hikes, Benson will stop and provide commentary about the local geology, and the earth shaping processes that got us where we are today.


McKim, who has been with the club for 6 years, enjoys hunting, fishing, skiing, and community service. This manifests itself in the form of night skiing at Great Divide, archery sessions at Montana Wild, and occasional fishing trips. Along with these hobbies, McKim contributes most of the community service outings, which he co-sponsors with the Montana Conservation Corp. Here students can spend fun days wielding saws cutting low branches over Helena’s trails, cutting willow shoots for stream restoration, or weeding at the 6th Ward Park. Although the prospect of these services seems dreadful, McKim manages to make them fun, donning mud face paint or throwing snowballs at unsuspecting students. Another staple of McKim’s outings is the crystal dig, which takes place early in the fall on the Elliston side of McDonald Pass. Students can experience a private mining claim and collect all of the quartz crystals they can carry.


Lynn, who has been with the club for 4 years, lends his technical skills in rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, and backcountry skiing to the club. Lynn, who recently helped establish a large climbing area on Mount Helena, enjoys taking both beginner and expert students rock climbing at Helena’s various climbing areas. Students can, quite literally, learn the ropes, and pick up a hobby that they might not have otherwise. When the snow flies and the temps drop, Lynn leads cross country skiing trips on McDonald Pass and teaches skate skiing, a form of cross country skiing, on Bill Roberts golf course. Participants can expect some serious cardio from the skiing, and usually a fire and a snowball fight. In the spring as the trails melt, Lynn leads evening mountain bike rides, taking students on Helena’s nationally renowned bike trails.


The adventures of outdoors club culminate in early May with the overnight kayak trip. Students who participated in 5 events during the year can earn a coveted spot on the trip, with service outings counting as 2. The trip takes students on a 3 mile paddle into Gates of The Mountains recreation area, where they set up tents at a remote campsite. The rest of the day is spent exploring the surrounding and enjoying dinner by the fire where McKim tells “The Legend of The Lost Fugawee Tribe.” The next morning begins with a hike to the Mann Gulch overlook, the site of a forest fire where 13 firefighters, including 12 smokejumpers, lost their lives. After returning to camp, students paddle back to the put in, feeling tired and an immense sense of satisfaction.


Outdoors Club regularly sees attendance of 20 to 30 people and is a no commitment club, meaning that you aren’t required to attend every meeting or outing. They meet in Mr. Benson’s room (room 60) on Friday’s at lunch.


Check out the club’s Facebook page here

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