The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The (not so) Secret History of the Darwin Club

If you have ever heard mentions of a mysterious cabin in the woods and the group of students that frequent it, you must be thinking of none other than Loomis Chaffee’s Darwin Club. Led by Bridget Hickey ’23 and Josie Foley ’23, this club attracts members of the community that have a love for hiking and an appreciation for nature. 

While many might know the club by name, only few are familiar with its interesting, long-lasting history. The Darwin Club was established in the 1918-1919 school year, just four years after the founding of the school. Flourishing for many years, the club eventually became inactive in the 1980s after their beloved cabin in East Hartland, Connecticut was burned down by an unexplained fire. 

The cabin was home to many student activities such as square dancing, campfire songs, s’mores, hiking trips, and overnight stays. 

In the 1990s, former faculty member Pete Gwyn initiated the building of a “lean-to” on the former site of the cabin, restoring the club. Unsatisfied with the state of the “cabin,” Mr. Gwyn organized a group of students and faculty that built a new, more accommodating cabin in 2009. After Mr. Gwyn left Loomis in 2019, the club became stagnant again. In the 2022-23 school year, Hickey and Foley decided to reinstate the club. 

“There was no student group for people to get outdoors off campus and we knew there were many students who had interest in doing so,” Hickey said. 

 The girls had not heard of the historical club until they had a meeting about founding an outdoors club with Dean of Students Mike Donegan, who informed them on the history of the Darwin Club and the cabin. Hickey and Foley were thrilled by this news and decided to carry on the tradition of the Darwin Club.

Today, the Darwin Club has become a group of passionate students who enjoy spending time outdoors. They host events on and off campus for students to spend time outside.

“It was a great opportunity to get to know people from all different grades that all share the common interest in the outdoors,” Foley said.

At the cabin, students enjoy s’mores and hotdogs over the fire, hammocking, hiking 8.5 miles, playing cards, and making friendship bracelets.

“Roasting smores in the meadows, stargazing, and chatting with Ms. Beason and fellow Darwin Club members was a positively delightful experience,” Riley Fried ’23 said.

In the remainder of the year, Foley and Hickey hope to host the first overnight trip at the cabin in years. They are overjoyed to have restored this club, bringing back such a major aspect of Loomis history back into the community.

“We hope to inspire students to develop connections with their natural environment,” Hickey said.

More to Discover