During a celebration of 90 years of Outdoor Pursuits, former members of the faculty, staff, and students reflect on how East Campus has been affected by donor support.

Dozens of alumni, friends, and members of our facuty and staff came back to East Campus to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of Outdoor Pursuits. For many, it was another excuse to get back to the place they love and see familiar faces. For others, it was an opportunity to see how much had changed, and how much had been preserved, as a result of Friends of East Campus support.

It had been 10 years since Mike Phelan, G’96, last set foot on East Campus. He and his wife, Melissa, have a special history with the Pueblo: it was their first home. 

After graduating with a master’s degree in resort and commercial recreation, Mike became a faculty member in the recreation department and director of outdoor programs at East Campus. He and Melissa moved into the second floor of the Pueblo, the first people to live there in more than a decade.

“I worked a lot of late evenings so it was convenient to live and work in the same place, but no one had lived there in a while and it was before some of the renovations. We had squirrels show up on occasion, all sorts of funny stuff. But it was a lot of fun,” he said.

Many of those renovations, and other updates to East Campus, are from the direct support of the Friends of East Campus. Visitors who had been gone for a while noticed the pavilion, the new bathrooms, and updated equipment. Even alumni who graduated a year earlier could tell there was a brand new kitchen.

“You walk into the kitchen now and it’s legit,” said Peter Haley ’77, G’78, former men’s soccer coach and physical education professor who was a unit leader at Outdoor Pursuits.

“East Campus was just a good place for me to get away and be reflective. There’s just something about going out there that brought peace.” Peter Haley ’77, G’78 Former men’s soccer coach and physical education professor
Peter Haley

Haley also noticed how the space was being used with new equipment purchased from Friends of East Campus funds.

“I don’t remember ever having the opportunity to cross country ski or snowshoe when I was there, unless you had your own equipment,” he said.

As much as things have improved, many people noted what had stayed the same. Haley recalled how he used to take his dogs to East Campus on Saturday mornings and walk the perimeter, soaking in the solitude. What most impressed him was how staff had maintained the integrity of the landscape. 

“A lot of people go out there, so maintaining the foliage, the treeline, and keeping people on the trails has allowed the young saplings to grow,” he said.

For Mike, there was a familiarity he noticed as soon as he walked into the Pueblo.

“...there is just a smell and a sense, especially under the pine trees, that there’s just this special place.
And to some degree, it was like no time had passed.” Mike Phelan, G’96 with his wife, Melissa, and Tim Walsh ’94
Mike Phelan, G’96 Pictured above (center) with his wife, Melissa, and Tim Walsh ’94, at the 90th Anniversary of Outdoor Pursuits

“It has a smell, I’m not sure if its campfire or hamburgers, but there is just a smell and a sense, especially under the pine trees, that there’s just this special place. And to some degree, it was like no time had passed,” he said.

To learn more about how your gifts impact East Campus, visit springfield.edu/foec.