A Solar Story

By Peg Campbell

Founding Member

In 1974, like many who discover SOLAR, I was looking for a little adventure which I found through a circuitous route.  A newspaper article led me to the Washtenaw County MSU Extension Office that was recruiting 4H leaders.  (4H was historically an agricultural program with exhibits or competitions at county fairs but they were branching out.) Yes, working with kids could be fun.

Soon I was on their steering committee planning county programs. We adopted the new Challenge Program to train kids in outdoor skills through the MSU Extension service It still thrives nationwide today as Outdoor Adventure Challenge and similar to 1974, their mission is to use the biggest classroom available — the outdoors — to lead young people in activities that teach how to communicate with other group members to plan, organize, and conduct their own activities outdoors. Participants learn canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, hiking, outdoor survival and safety skills, and more.

I’d never camped or done anything outdoorsy and felt these new adventures were doable through their 16-week leadership training course. The first session (rock-climbing) seemed odd that others enrolled in the program were not 4-H leaders like me but had seen Doug Maddox (the Challenge training leader) rappelling off the roof of the Wayne post office. When they asked him questions, he invited them to the program. After the practical at Grand Ledge, we were amazed and awed with our accomplishments and were eager to learn backpacking and winter survival skills.

Soon after the program started Doug met Bill Halvangis, fresh from Outward Bound, and recruited him as a co-leader. Doug got media exposure for the classes and persuaded Jerry Chipetta from Michigan Outdoors (a local TV program) to do a show on our survival practical which aired that April.  That weekend Doug suggested we start a club to continue our adventures since we were completing the program and could assist him and Bill with the upcoming classes.  Thus the SOLAR Club (now Solar Outdoors) was born and we were glued together in our newfound adventure.

40th Anniversary Story


Want to read the entire story and more by Peg Campbell, a founding member?
Well, you can at your leisure!

Once downloaded and printed the PDF…you can then take it on your next hiking adventure or at the comfort of your own home.