OUTC  Getting up to Antics

What is the value in recording and publishing your club stories? We interviewed Tanja De Wilde, 2016 co-editor of the OUTC annual journal to find out.

If you’ve visited many huts within reasonable range of Dunedin, chances are you will have seen a dog eared copy of Antics, and especially if there’s time to spare in the evening or on a weather day, you’ll have no doubt had a smile or two reading about the enthusiastic and impressive jaunts of the Otago University Tramping Club.

Tanja hadn’t contributed any content to Antics, so it surprised her fellow committee members when she volunteered to edit the 2016 journal “I kinda felt bad that I hadn’t done anything for Antics” she says, “so I thought [editing] it would be a nice thing to do”.

2016 Antics co-editors Tanja De Wilde and Meg Buddle

The work of the editor begins in December, when she begins to “hassle” people for contributions to Antics. Tanja keeps a list of all the club trips through the year, plus the leaders and members of the trips. This give her a good resource for people to ask for Antics content. She says that it’s a bit of a challenge to get the content, so she has learned to be creative in looking for ways to fill up the journal.

“Repetitive emails are good…. To an extent….” she says, but “helping them find something they would like doing” works better.  “If people don’t want to write a story, then how about a Poem? It doesn’t have to be long, and funny is always good!” On the clubs big trip to Fiordland each year, trip leaders hand out pens and paper on the bus ride home, in an impromptu poetry competition about the trip they’d just been on. Chocolate, always a firm currency with trampers, is the bribe of choice that’s offered for the winning entries.

What sport involves ice tools, a wetsuit and a rubber boat?? Deepwater ice solo: Frazer Attril climbing an iceberg in Tasman Lake, from an inflatable aquanaut (photo by Jaz Morris)

Antics has a good spread of traditional (and not so traditional) trip reports, poems, photographs, artwork and rants. One memorable club trip involved a hillarious diatribe about the proliferation of cairns in the mountains. The ranter wasn’t that keen on writing about it for Antics, so Tanja and said ranter met after the trip, to record his rant which she later turned into a written piece.

The emphasis seems to be squarely on the fun of things, with plenty of amusing photographs and stories. Nudity (tastefully done of course, with strategic climbing helmet placements) seems to be a common thread.  Trip leaders are encouraged to keep up the light hearted tradition of amusing photos for trip reports and OUTC’s photo competition provides plenty of quality images to balance out the publication.

A few times a year, keen artists bring along art supplies to club nights, encouraging members to draw, paint and sketch something as a memoire of their time with the club. Tanja likes that Antics is not just stories and photos, there’s a wide variety of content, all of which records and celebrates the clubs activities and sense of community.

Antics artwork by Torea Scott Fyfe

The “hassling” for content usually goes through until about march the following year. At this point, Tanja and her co-editor spent about 40-50 hours of work each over about a month to edit and layout the journal. She uses the professional publication industry standard program, InDesign, to create Antics, which is paid software that she had to learn. “I’m terrible with computers, and I didn’t know anything about design” says Tanja, but design student friends gave her enough tips to get started, and then she found that it wasn’t too difficult. The University Print Shop, where the journals are printed, also gave her plenty of help producing the print-ready PDF’s at the end of the editing process.

Each year around May to July, about 250 copies of the journal are produced, which are free to members. Most are claimed by the Kiwi members, which make up about half of OUTC’s 400-500 strong membership. As the journal comes out the year after the events, most exchange student members are already back home. OUTC tried keeping member information and posting copies out, but often the addresses were out of date and didn’t reach their intended targets. These days they leave it to ex-members to approach the club if they want their copy.

OUTC doesn’t currently formally archive old editions, but they are thinking of trying to scan the old journals. PDF copies are available on their website for past and present members. In 2006, Kelvin Lloyd edited and produced a compendium book “45 Years of Antics”. According to Tanja, he bankrolled the project, which he was clearly passionate about. There are still a few copies left; contact president@outc.org.nz to get a copy. 

OUTC River crossing practice: Max and Lauren enjoy a picnic with live entertainment in Paradise (Glenorchy) as punters practice river crossing (photo by Anna Murdoch)

Around 100 of each years left over copies find their way to the club’s gear shed. When a club trip goes out, or someone hires some club gear, they get a copy of Antics and are encouraged to donate it to a hut library.  Members seem to get a kick out of contributing to the hut culture through re-homing these journals; they capture the essence of the club, and give something tangible for the club to be proud of and share with the wider outdoor community.

Tanja, who grew up tramping in the hills around Wellington, says her decision to study at Otago was strongly influenced by the reputation of OUTC (and the Southern Alps). She says OUTC’s reputation is in no small part due to the number of people who have read a hut-bound copy of Antics, which is why she thinks that it is still really important to produce a printed version, in a world where everything is going digital.  

It costs between $3,000 and $4000 each year, to produce those 250 copies. Funding comes from membership fees; the club feels no need for advertising. Tanja credits previous committees for the wisdom and foresight to budget well for future productions of Antics.

Snow hole: “Quite the Palace” – The snow cave that Josh and Emma built and slept in in Wye Creek (photo by Jaz Morris)

Looking back on her efforts, she feels a strong sense of accomplishment, having played a vital role in keeping up the traditions of her club, and recording her club’s history “You get to read back over a whole bunch of people’s stories, and think about how many people are also going to read and enjoy those stories. Even though it is a lot of work, it’s important to remember that it’s really fun.”

The Outdoor Community blog tells the stories of great kiwi clubs, groups and individuals who are doing great things for their outdoor communities. We aim to extract the gems of collective wisdom from these stories and other unpublished interviews and share them through the Outdoor Community resource here on Wilderlife.  There’s more info about journals and newsletters in the publications section of the resource.

If you want to contribute more wisdom, advice or to be interviewed for this project, please get in touch

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