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Embracing the Detours

As president of SC Outfitters and an environmental studies major, Madison Swayne respects the great outdoors. The group has recently partnered with Homeboy Industries to organize “Homeboy Hikes.”

By Sophie Loghman
February 12, 2014

USC Dornsife's Madison Swayne (left) guides hikers from SC Outfitters near the Hollywood Sign in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Also a guide during the recent hike was Noa Ervin (right), a philosophy major at USC Dornsife. Photo courtesy of Madison Swayne.

USC Dornsife's Madison Swayne (left) guides hikers from SC Outfitters near the Hollywood Sign in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Also a guide during the recent hike was Noa Ervin (right), a philosophy major at USC Dornsife. Photo courtesy of Madison Swayne.

A competitive surfer and avid hiker, Madison Swayne arrived at USC looking to join a community of students who enjoy the outdoors.

The San Clemente, Calif., native found what she was looking for in SC Outfitters, USC’s student-run outdoor adventure travel club.

“I have truly found a group of people who love life and who love the outdoors,” said Swayne, a junior majoring in environmental studies at USC Dornsife.

SC Outfitters is one of USC’s fastest-growing student groups. Formed in 2008, the group numbered less than 50 members and 10 student guides. Today, it’s increased to 200 members and 45 student guides, who organize numerous hiking and adventure trips to the California wilderness.

Swayne initially became involved with the organization as a student guide; she’s now president, and, along with other student guides, helps organize and lead close to 40 trips each semester.

Trips have included backpacking up Mount Baldy, mountain biking in Malibu, kayaking in the Pacific Ocean and hiking in Ojai. Most recently, Swayne helped to guide hikers in the Santa Monica Mountains, where they trekked up to the Hollywood Sign.

“The Hollywood Sign hike this past Sunday was absolutely beautiful,” Swayne said, adding that she and fellow guide Noa Ervin, a philosophy major at USC Dornsife, had a great group of participants.

“When we made it to the top, we found out, in true Hollywood fashion, they were shooting a music video beneath the sign,” Swayne said.

One of Swayne’s favorite parts of being involved with SC Outfitters is the way the group helps USC students interact with one another in new and exciting environments.

“The bonds created on trails, in the backcountry, on rock walls, in rivers and on the ocean are exciting and long-lasting,” she said.

This semester, SC Outfitters is creating bonds among its members as well as the local youth program Homeboy Industries.

 


Madison Swayne, president of SC Outfitters, hikes on Mt. Whitney, located between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, at Badwater in Death Valley National Park. She hikes with SC Outfitter guides Brian Lentz (left), a graduate student in marine and environmental biology at USC Dornsife, and Adam Grosher. Photo by Shawn Ebrahimpour.

Joanna Brodecki, director of community outreach for SC Outfitters, partnered with the program to put together “Homeboy Hikes.”

Founded in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy Industries offers a variety of programs to combat the cycle of gang involvement in Los Angeles, including mental health and substance abuse counseling, legal services, tattoo removal and employment placement services.

The first “Homeboy Hike” will take place this month at the Santa Monica Mountains, and Brodecki is planning to make it the first of many.

“Our goal is to create a series of bimonthly events that offer the Homeboy community a wide variety of adventure opportunities,” said Brodecki, who has a double major at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

Swayne said she was excited to see the guides and members interface with Homeboy Industries in a meaningful way. 

“SC Outfitters’ collaboration with Homeboy Industries is a great way for us, as an organization, to give back to the community,” Swayne said.

Swayne and Brodecki encourage those who aren’t involved with SC Outfitters to sign up.

“We want to bring the outdoors to the USC community,” Brodecki said. “Live with adventure, and let’s go explore.”