Campus journey sponsors outdoor activities for no profit

By Beth Oltmanns

If you like the outdoors, hiking or doing community service, there’s an organization in DeKalb and on campus just for you.

A Campus Journey is a non-profit organization that sponsors outdoor activities, said Nick Utech, ACJ director of administration and an NIU student.

The organization has a national chapter in DeKalb and an alpha chapter on NIU’s campus. Carole Jo Utech, president and NIU graduate, founded the organization 18 months ago.

ACJ is sponsoring a hike of the Appalachian Trail starting on Feb. 2, 2002. The trail is 2,160 miles long and takes six months to complete. It begins in Springer Mountain, Ga., and ends in Katahdin, Maine, according to the ACJ Web site.

“Our main goal is to raise funds for cancer research,” Nick said.

The organization hopes to raise $500,000 through donations from the Appalachian Trail hike, he said.

The money raised is going to three universities with specific cancer research centers, Carole said.

About 250 people have signed up for the hike so far, Carole said. The majority of the people registered are college students, but some couples and families have registered.

“The age range is very wide,” she said.

NIU’s Outing Centre also is helping out with the fundraiser by sponsoring a trip to the Appalachian Trail during spring break, said Jim Stelter, student coordinator for outdoor trips. The group will meet up with those on the hike from ACJ.

“It will be a full spring break trip with four or five days on trail,” Stelter said.

Both Carole Jo and Ryan Hammer, ACJ director of hiker support, will hike the entire trail. Others who are participating will join the hike when they are available.

Carole is doing several things to prepare for the six-month hike.

“I have been weight training and doing my own workout,” she said.

Carole Jo also has been reading books about hiking the Appalachian Trail. The books say that nothing totally can prepare a person for the actual experience, she said.

ACJ also sponsors other fundraisers in the area.

In March, ACJ held a fundraiser during which people walked around the King Memorial Commons wearing backpacks, Carole Jo said. The organization plans on having the same event next year right before spring break.

To raise funds for the Appalachian trip, ACJ will hold a dinner at the end of November, Nick said. There will be a silent auction.

ACJ is working toward creating more chapters of the organization across the country.

The only alpha chapter of the organization is the NIU chapter, Carole Jo said.

“We would love to have them all over,” she said.