Action figure: Darden grad markets thrills

When he was a Cub Scout more than 20 years ago, Matt Rosefsky wanted to go on an overnight hike. His parents, however, nixed the idea.

"They thought I might catch a cold," he laughs.

Fortunately, Rosefsky says, his parents have mellowed some. And it's a good thing; his post as head of the new Outdoor Adventure Social Club of Charlottesville would give his folks a lot more to worry about than the common cold: Caves, cliffs, and whitewater figure prominently in many of the trips Rosefsky organizes and leads.

A 2003 Darden graduate with a combined MBA in business and Asian studies, Rosefsky, 31, took the long road to outdoor leadership. Although he grew up in upstate New York, he says he didn't live near the mountains. But when he arrived in Charlottesville in 2001 to start grad school, the hiking bug bit.

The UVA Outing Club was in its death throes at the time, says Rosefsky, with only 30 members and no scheduled outings. Rosefsky read up on a few area hiking trails and contacted all Outing Club members. Within a few months, he had euthanized the Outing Club and birthed the UVA Outdoors Club, of which he served as president for the remainder of his UVA tenure. Two years later, club membership had grown to more than 300.

Seven months spent in Asia as part of his MBA cemented his love of exploring, he says, describing his first solo overnight hike.

"It was the most liberating feeling I probably have ever had," he recalls.

After several months in a traditional MBA job, Rosefsky realized his heart was still outside. He moved back to town to start this latest venture in January. As described on its website, outdoorsocial.com, the Outdoor Adventure Social Club of Charlottesville is geared for "singles & couples, in their 20s or 30s in body or mind."

As might be expected from a high achiever, the Club is also very much a business. In fact, it's Rosefsky's full-time job.

For $198 annual membership fee ($150 for students), anyone 18 and up can enjoy invitations to a wide range of social activities and use of all club equipment for trips. Members also pay a fee for each outing, but Rosefsky says that fee is strictly to cover expenses.

The response so far has been heartening. At the club's first party, held Saturday, March 20, in the club's Downtown Mall headquarters (Rosefsky's apartment), 81 people showed up. Rosefsky says his goal is to have 300 members "quickly." To attain that number, Rosefsky says he needed 25 people to join by the end of that party.

To his delight, 31 adventurers signed on.

Dave Clark, one of the Club's eight expedition leaders, says it's no surprise.

Rosefsky, says Clark, is "motivated, calm, a good friend and listener and very well experienced."

Kristin Link says she met Rosefsky several years ago through the UVA Outdoors Club, and immediately felt comfortable. "He exudes an energy and a love of the outdoors," she says. It wasn't long before Rosefsky had roped Kristin into leading trips something she may do again for his new venture.

And Rosefsky has support from at least one likeminded business in town, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.

"It's a nice addition" says Blue Ridge employee Tony LaRocco. "We have signs up for the club."

For Rosefsky, the Club is hopefully just the beginning. He hopes to start new branches of the club for older people and for young families. He also hopes to offer week-long trips abroad by the end of summer.

"I want to create and unite," he says, "a community of people interested in the outdoors."


Matt Rosefsky wants to put his Darden degree outdoors.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

#