Bluefield College's Appalachian Trail Club By Heather Paisley | February 1, 2011 | RSS To become a member of the Bluefield College Appalachian Trail Club (ATOC), you do not have to donate money or make a pledge; all you have to do is hike. Before you freak out, you do not have to hike the whole Appalachian Trial or even be an avid hiker. All that is required is a small hike on Tuesday nights at 5:30 on the Bluefield College Nature Trail. The ATOC was revived and is sponsored by Walter Shroyer, professor of art, who has supported the club since his first year of teaching at BC. Shroyer is a passionate hiker who has hiked more than 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail. When Shroyer came to BC 20 years ago, he found a BC catalog that included an A.T. Club in the list of organizations. He asked about it and learned that a former dean of students had started it. “So, I said it’s in the catalog, so I’ll start it up,” said Shroyer. “We started by doing two hikes a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The hikes were seven to eight miles in Bastian, Va.” In 1995, Shroyer and several BC students began to build the BC Nature Trail. The Biology department made signs to label the wildflowers along the trail. The trail extends from the mission house to the top of the hill and down to the tennis courts; it’s a one mile loop. The trail connects at the BC Dome to the Bluefield City Park Trail, and allows access to nine other hiking trails. Shroyer is not the only support that the club has had. “The Student Government Association (SGA) supported us and gave us money,” Shroyer said. “One year they gave us a $700 dollar budget request that we used to buy all kinds of equipment. When we would go on hikes, they would pay and give us boxed lunches.” In 1997, the club had 10 members, but today it has just three active members and is looking for more. Courtney Dutton and Sarah Mason are co-presidents who help to plan trips and other outdoor and environmental activities, including weekly hikes on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. on the BC Nature Trail behind Cruise Hall, and overnight camping trips throughout the spring and fall semesters. “The ATOC has started the semester off strong,” said Dutton. “We went on a day hike last week to the Cascades to see them frozen.” Dutton said she and Mason are trying to grow the club so more things will be happening in the future. The ATOC is celebrating the launch of its new Facebook page, Bluefield College Appalachian Trail Club (ATOC), which BC students can become fans of. “I always liked being outside hiking and camping, but never had the opportunity and this club allows me to do so and meet new people and have fun,” said Dutton. The co-presidents urge BC students to get involved and take a hike. “You don’t have to be a hard core hiker, just going on the hikes is a great stress reliever and makes for great exercise,” said Dutton. If any students are interested in joining or taking a hike, meet Tuesday evenings at 5:30 behind Cruise Hall, at the BC Nature Trail sign.