Springfield College Celebrates 93rd anniversary of Outdoor Pursuits | Springfield College

Springfield College Celebrates 93rd anniversary of Outdoor Pursuits

Director of East Campus and Outdoor Programs Ben Taylor '99, G'15 Recognized with Outdoor Pursuits Distinguished Service Award

Springfield College recently celebrated the 93rd anniversary of Outdoor Pursuits at East Campus. Springfield College Director of East Campus and Outdoor Programs Ben Taylor '99, G'15 was recognized for his 20 years of service at Outdoor Pursuits, earning the Outdoor Pursuits Distinguished Service Award.


By: Damon Markiewicz

Springfield College recently celebrated the 93rd anniversary of Outdoor Pursuits at East Campus, also known historically as freshman camp. An outdoor living experience that takes place at the conclusion of final exams in early May, Outdoor Pursuits enhances a student’s understanding and appreciation of individual differences of the social aspects of group living.

“Outdoor Pursuits is a one credit academic course that students take within their wellness and physical literacy sequence,” explained Springfield College Physical Education and Health Education Chair Michelle Moosbrugger, who recently completed her 16th year involved with Outdoor Pursuits. “It’s a 200-level course where students have already taken a 100-level course to learn about wellness components, and now they are out in the woods learning group living skills, and group dynamics."


Attendees engage in activities selected to increase environmental awareness, improve outdoor living skills, and serve as an introduction to resource-based pursuits.

“This is a course where we emphasize experiential learning,” added Moosbrugger. “It’s that full cycle of planning, thinking and doing, and then coming back and reflecting and thinking about how you might change the way you do things in the future.”

Moosbrugger also emphasized that the lessons learned during the eight days of the course are expected to be utilized well after the attendees finally go home for the summer.

“The mission is to have the students take the lessons learned with them as they continue on with their major, and return to their families," explained Moosbrugger. "The goal is to have them utilize these lessons on a daily basis in their lives.”

What makes Outdoor Pursuits so special is the reality that this multi-day experience is so much more than just a course for college credit, it’s an experience that assists students with their personal development, and their progress as a future leader.

“We intend the students to experience growth, and that growth will look different to every student,” added Moosbrugger. “It can be reflection on how the academic year went, or thinking about new challenges. Students usually step out of their comfort zone because we create a safe, but challenging environment for them.”

Another important fact about Outdoor Pursuits is most academic majors are represented, and the program also allows for collaboration among faculty from a variety of academic programs.

“We have students who are required to take the course as part of their major, but we also have many students who are here because they just want the experience and they understand how important the experience is for their growth,” stated Moosbrugger. “It’s also a way for faculty to connect with students in a different setting.”

And one can’t underestimate how the setting of the outdoor learning center of East Campus plays an important role in adding to the mystique of Outdoor Pursuits.

“Having East Campus available to us is such an important academic resource for Springfield College,” added Moosbrugger. “East Campus Director Ben Taylor and Associate Director Angela Veatch continue to do such an amazing job creating a culture at East Campus that is welcoming. East Campus is such an important space for our students to learn about themselves, and they have that opportunity to use the space anytime, even beyond the eight days of Outdoor Pursuits.”


East Campus Director Ben Taylor '99, G'15 Recognized with Outdoor Pursuits Distinguished Service Award

In a special moment during the final night of Outdoor Pursuits, Springfield College Director of East Campus and Outdoor Programs Ben Taylor '99, G'15 was recognized for his 20 years of service at Outdoor Pursuits, earning the Outdoor Pursuits Distinguished Service Award.

Prior to being named director in June of 2007, Taylor served two years as assistant director of East Campus starting in 2005. Taylor’s connections to Outdoor Pursuits began in the spring of 1996 when he completed his first year as a student at Springfield College, followed by three years as a student staff member at East Campus.

“Good leaders do hard things, they challenge everyone else around them to be better, they have the hard conversations that nobody else wants to, and they do everything in their power to put the mission of the College ahead of themselves. And they do so while leading by example. That’s Ben Taylor,” stated Associate Director of East Campus and Outdoor Programs Angela Veatch, who has served in her current role for each of Taylor’s 16 years as director.

Veatch went on to highlight how Taylor has impacted the experiences of Outdoor Pursuits attendees since 2007.

“If you climbed the Pride climb in the high ropes course, used the strength in nature equipment, sat at the swings, played the ring hook activity in the picnic grove, sat on the benches of cathedral, went under the pavilion at the ropes course, noticed our new welcome center sign, sat at the picnic tables to eat your meals, those are all items that Ben Taylor built during his time here,” added Veatch.

She went on to describe, “To some folks, these may just be physical items, but to our students who participate in pre-camp, take our adventure education courses, are part of Camp Massasoit, and take part in Outdoor Pursuits, these items transcend into lifetime memories. Experiences you think back and smile about. It's a place where you climbed a little bit higher, a place you visited to calm your mind, a place where you made meals, played cards, or connected through some amazing conversations. These physical items that Ben built are just a byproduct of the purpose behind it. These tangible items become intangible moments that will last a lifetime.”

Springfield College Physical Education Professor Ted France, who has been a part of every Outdoor Pursuits during the last 34 years, summarized the impact that Taylor has had on East Campus and Outdoor Pursuits participants.

“In watching Ben over all these years, what I respect so much about him is he knows his legacy in his role at East Campus can’t be about him, his legacy is tied to each of the students who participate in these programs," explained France. "His legacy is about the faculty who assist, the alumni who come back, to what the current students do in the future. Through Ben’s leadership, that’s what camp is about, and Ben gets that.”

France went on to add, “As someone who has been a part of Outdoor Pursuits since I was 17 years old, I appreciate Ben so much, and he has exceeded all expectations I have had for him in leading East Campus and leading Outdoor Pursuits.”

Concluding a very memorable 2023 Outdoor Pursuits program, Taylor expressed his appreciation to all of the individuals who have assisted him over the years at Springfield College.

“There isn’t one thing that I have done here alone at East Campus and Springfield College,” stated Taylor. “All of the alumni who returned to this year’s ceremony, all of the student staff working this year’s program, we always come together to do this as a group. And when you come together as a group, there is nothing you can’t achieve.”

Taylor expressed his appreciation to this year’s Outdoor Pursuits participants, a group that is now part of the 93-year history.

“I see how this experience has impacted each and every one of you,” concluded Taylor. “I am hoping you can take with you, the snippets that are going to do you service later on in your lives. Be proud of your accomplishments, you are part of a group of Springfield College students who stepped up and rose to the challenges presented during Outdoor Pursuits.”