Treehuggers Unite

Crunchy, granola, it’s just not “us”; by us, that is, the collective HBS student body. You know…HBS prizes itself on its buttoned-down look. For example, in a recent class, I counted no less than 25 well-pressed shirts of varying shades of blue.

And that was just the guys.

Women here wear expensive shoes and matching sweater sets. There are also a number of headbands. Yet while this school does not appear to be a mecca for the outdoor enthusiast, through extensive research (i.e. a classcard search for “hiking”) I found that 135 people theoretically enjoy hiking as an interest. That is about 8% of the total student body.

Wondering just how big this number really was, I did a similar survey on shopping. How many shoppers do we have? Five. Yup. That’s it.

Drinking? Two. Smoking? Zero. Dating? Zippo. Yes, It seems that there is a deep, dark LL Bean underbelly to this place, just waiting to be unleashed.

Can it be true? Do the students of HBS think that there is more to fall colors than the new clothing lines on Newbury Street? Could exploring out-of-doors mean more than eating brunch outside? Given the number of people with expensive North Face jackets, fleeces and Nalgenes (those bottles were not created with the sole purpose of sitting on HBS desks), I offer a tentative yes. And I think that is good. So, you already have the water bottle…but there even more reasons why you should be convinced that the great outdoors are truly, truly great.

First of all, there is a lot of gear. If you think that shopping for shoes is fun, try picking up a hobby like camping. I went with a recent camping-convert to REI last week. He almost skipped through the isles when he realized the sheer volume of material things now a potential part of his gear-world. After purchasing a GE battery-operated lantern, he hung it from the rear-view mirror of his Audi with pride. Nevermind that the lantern died within minutes of pitching the tent that night. That only meant that he got to go back to REI. Now he is equipped with a headlamp of the newest variety. Equipped with that lamp strapped to his head, he can not only camp in comfort, but also explore all of those caves around Boston in his spare time. I have also been told that it has a strobe feature, when, if worn while driving, can actually move cars ahead of you off of the road.

But it isn’t just for the gear that you should do stuff outdoors. It is also for the sex. Clarification: there are a lot of really fit people, typically in various stages of undress, partaking in outdoor sports. Take climbing, for instance. Men almost never wear shirts (and this is even true in the climbing gym), while women wear a dazzling array of tight clothing.

Basically, whichever camp you are sitting in, you can’t lose. While the ratio of men to women in this particular sport may look a lot like an HBS happy hour, men, don’t despair. Many women think the idea of rock climbing is romantic…can we say “perfect first date”?

And finally, you can actually get in good shape. Believe me, when you are on a trail run and come across a black bear that is bigger than you are, you will run faster and burn more calories than ever could be done on a treadmill-that is, if your heart doesn’t fail you first. (Yes, that actually happened to me-the bear part not the failing heart). Now, even when running by the Charles, I have that bear clipping at my heels in my mind.

Instant terror does wonders for shapely legs.

Convinced? Good. If you don’t know where to start, just go ahead. Do it. Hug a tree. The shampooed squirrels on campus shouldn’t have all the fun.