Jette to leave DOC, but devotion continues

by Liz Bertko | 11/22/00 6:00am

"I hope that it will never die," said Earl Jette, commenting on Dartmouth's long lasting heritage in the Dartmouth Outing Club.

Jette, who has been the DOC's director for the past 20 years, recently announced that he would retire at the end of this term. He has been working with the club since 1970, when he was inducted as an honorary member of the Class of 1955.

One of what Jette sees as the club's main strengths is its commitment to strong student leadership.

"No other college I know of would allow projects of that magnitude to be run by students," he commented, referring to Freshman DOC trips.

Involvement in the DOC, he explained, can involve an incredible level of responsibility allowing students to both excel and learn practical skills.

"I've had many alums tell me they could apply what they learned in the Outing Club to life ... managing budgets, designing programs, working shifts," he said.

According to Jette, the DOC has evolved substantially throughout the years. "It used to be a lot more hard core," he said. Past ascents of Mount Everest by DOC members and traditions of 75-mile hikes exemplify this.

"It was much more clubbish in those days than it is now. People took membership a lot more seriously," he said.

Today, in contrast, Jette says the club has a much broader view. "Now it's not as hard core, but it's easier for people to get into activities. That could be considered a change for the better."

As opposed to 20 years ago, the club today has considerably greater alumni endowments, giving it more capacity to run large-scale programs.

"We had only one van then, now we have four," he said, pleased.

Another major change witnessed by Jette in his experience at Dartmouth was the impact of coeducation on the DOC's structure.

"Coeducation did not come easy for the outing club," Jette said. "There were many DOC members that did not want coeducation."

Female leaders, however, became quickly integrated into the club, according to Jette.

"It's not easy to leave," Jette commented, indicating nostalgia in wake of his coming resignation. "One of the great things I loved about the Outing Club is how the students keep changing, how you can meet so many people."

His tentative ideas for the future include designing plans for the cross-country ski trail Oakhill, putting together self-guided tours and working with other College Grant studies.

"I would love to hike parts of the Appalachian Trail, canoe Alagash River. I'm still young enough to be able to do all that stuff," he said.

Jette will also be assisting Kathy Doherty, the University of New Hampshire professor in outdoor education who will be the new DOC director next year.