The Williams Outing Club (WOC) cabin is a woodland dwelling nestled at the eastern entrance of the Hopkins Memorial Forest. The cabin creates the perfect opportunity for students at the College to do absolutely nothing and hide from all things academia. The WOC handbook sets no limit for the number of nights one can reserve, and while no one in recent history has booked the cabin for more than three nights, WOC cabin manager Matt Goss ’17 confirmed my speculation that renting the cabin out for life would technically be possible.
The WOC cabin is most commonly used by clubs, sports teams and friend groups for one night retreats/slumber parties, as its original purpose intended. It so happens that the current WOC cabin is the latest in a long line of WOC cabins that have provided an outdoor meeting space for students at the College.
This lineage began with a cabin purchased in the early 1920s and can be traced through the Berlin cabin, built on Berlin Mt. in 1931, the Harris Memorial cabin built in the Greylock Mountain Rage in 1932 and the Dorland Memorial cabin, built near the Mad River ski area in 1955. These cabins were abandoned and replaced for various reasons. Some disintegrated with time, while others became sources of disruption for their surrounding neighborhoods. For example, the Harris Memorial cabin, according to WOC’s former advisor Jim Briggs, met its end at the hands of vandals, who burned it to the ground one Halloween night.
The current WOC cabin, officially titled “The New Dorland Memorial Cabin,” was built in memory of the late James Dorland ’50, who was a casualty of the Korean War. The cabin is two stories and resembles a house. Among its luxury accommodations are an upstairs loft area, a large picnic table and a wood stove – albeit a highly ineffectual one.
The rather cold environment of the cabin is the one criticism commonly shared by student visitors. Lily Gordon ’20 agreed with this sentiment as she reflected upon her experience at a cabin sleepover: “We were warmed by the sense of community and love and friendship. Not the fire,” Gordon said. Even Goss confessed, “It’s pretty cold.”
The temperature of the cabin was certainly a notable feature of my own winter visit. My companions and I draped ourselves in blankets and sleeping bags as we waited an hour for our “hot” chocolate to reach a state that somewhat resembled warmth. Goss informed me that WOC has occasionally considered winterizing the cabin, along with other updates but has not moved forward with these actions.
The most recent renovation of the cabin occurred in the early 2000s after a tree fell on the cabin, crushing its roof and shattering several windows. The cabin’s most amusing disaster occurred a bit earlier when a visiting student emptied the ashes from the wood stove into a cardboard box. Luckily for the cabin and the student, a nearby caretaker saw the smoke and the fire only blazed long enough to damage the wood floor. “That student was one of few who didn’t get back their $25 deposit,” Scott Lewis, director of WOC, remarked with a chuckle.
The best feature of the cabin may be the lofted sleeping area. The huge windows that frame this platform give the space powerful treehouse vibes. Goss spoke admiringly of the special effects he has experienced on his visits to the cabin. “I love the upstairs. When you wake up in the morning, you awake to a wall of early morning light on the treetops, which is really pretty,” he said.
If you ever find yourself willing to brave the cabin’s chilly atmosphere and befriend its resident mouse family, a visit to the WOC cabin will reveal a world of woodland wonders that you likely forgot existed.