Outdoor Club of South Jersey

Club History Page


Some Milestone Events (1966-1992)

I hope you enjoy this brief history of the first 25 years. A description of the most recent years is planned next. If you have any events you would like to include, corrections ,comments etc.

Contact Frank Pearce ,  historian@ocsj.org 

Two couples, Bert Nixdorf, his Betty, along with Dale and Kay Knapschaefer really initiated the club in Mt. Holly. The club was formalized with a constitution and by-laws in 1967, at the home of Dale and Kay Knapschaefer in Pennsauken. The club was quite informal in the beginning with only two or three activities per month.  When the Knapschaefers left the area, Bert Nixdorf, then vice-resident, took the helm by default. Bert Nixdorf was a school principal. He incorporated the group with an official hierarchy consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, and recording secretary. The club was run out of Bert’s house. 

        These couples liked the outdoors and started walking around Mount Holly together.  The group grew to about six people walking around the Smithville area, in the woods up near Rancocas.  Their earliest organized hikes were out of Lake Oswego.  Everybody pretty much knew their way around out there.  There was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in that area and that’s where they began to run hikes. 

        When they decided to make it a more officially organized club, Bert wrote it up and advertised it in the Shoppers’ Guide. Trips were geared toward families. 

         At first, he mimeographed a newsletter from his home.  Then he got hold of a good printing company to do the newsletter

         Eventually, Nixdorf began to combine camping trips with the hiking and biking.  The A. Y. H. ran a lot of camping trips and travel hostel trips and the early OCSJ began to put them in their schedule. Trip fee 10 cents per child, 15 cents per adult.    Nixdorf would lead hikes and bike trips on woods roads and he liked to get in the water, too.  Pretty soon he added tubing trips to the schedule. Advertising in the Shoppers Guide brought about 60 regulars into the group. Evan’s Bridge was a popular spot for the tubing trips.  They would hike up to Godfrey bridge carrying inner tubes and wearing bathing suits, then they’d float back down to where the cars were parked. Nixdorf was a bike rider too.  He did D rides of about 25 miles.  Another couple who were early members would lead rides around the Chatsworth area. Orienteering was led by Kent Ringo, who later founded DOVA.

         Sometimes Bert would lead a bike ride on one day of the weekend and a hike the next day. Once or twice a month, Bert held moonlight hikes. There was nothing comparable in the South Jersey area. 

        In 1970, Walter Hayes became president. Walter, a former industrial arts teacher, was confined to a wheelchair by injuries suffered during WWII. His wife, Norah, a botanist who originally came from England, designed an “Edible Plants” walk around Oswego Lake became Vice-President. 

        Family membership was $1.25. There were 150 members. Activities were scheduled during 3 planning meetings.  –January, May, and October at the Hayes ‘home.

         The same year, the club affiliated with American Youth Hostels.10 members was enough to apply. They were the umbrella group. They supplied a logo and Bert added a cartoon character to it, a little hiking guy somewhat like a Charles Schultz’s Peanuts character.           

          Membership in 1970 was less than 50 persons.  Slowly the club increased its membership as well as its activity program.  

          In the early 1970’s, Nixdorf got a column in the Burlington County Times, a weekly column.  He wrote about nature and the hiking, biking, camping and tubing trips they were having.  Bert developed short hikes of about 6 miles, boating that he titled “Water Course Explorations” which were mostly out of Atsion, Evans Bridge and Oswego Lakes, and bike rides out of Mount Holley. During this early period, Bert also wrote two books.  One was called “Hikes and Bikes” and there was another book that was only bike rides.  Bert had a long tenure, from the 1970’s up to 1981.  He developed and built the club during that decade.  He did most of the leading and only had one or two other leaders for each of the other areas of activities.  During that time, we also branched out into back packing, sometime in the middle 1970’s.    

      Participation in activities was one of Bert Nixdorf’s great joys, the more members attended an activity, the more he enjoyed it.  Based on turnout, moonlight hikes were most popular.  The first one was held in 1970, a six miler out of Vincentown.  On average moonlight hikes attracted 50 – 100 persons in those days.  Some highlights of his most popular activities were: “Swan Migration trip to West Meadows in 1972, 30 attended.                                              

       By 1973, the program ran year round with the addition of water course explorations.  Membership was between 450-500.  

       By 1975, bicycle rides and a Wilderness Survival Course, had been added to on-going activities.  Membership had risen to around 750.

      The record turnout for the swan hike was in 1978 when 157 hiked to view the swans The famous Halloween Hike in 1977, brought out an overwhelming 280 for something special, donuts and cider.  We bought for an anticipated 180. We ended up slicing doughnuts into 1 inch slices, and giving everyone a sip of cider.  The line in the dark was a half a mile long.  Several members are still in the club who recall the famous incident.

       The club experienced dramatic growth from 1971 (200 members/50 activities) to 1979 (1,300 + members/ 213 activities). 

      The club was incorporated in 1980 as the A Y H Outdoor Club of South Jersey Inc.

1981 saw the first dues increase since 1974 ($2.50 individual, $5 Family)-and the end of Lifetime memberships ($15 individual, $30 Family)

      .1982 vote to change name to the Outdoor Club of New Jersey defeated.

       July4,1982 Richard (Dick) Greve completes the entire AT trail after starting in 1975.He starts the Annual Volunteer Weekend at the AT Trail Conference Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV

        1983 special supplement (July-September) marks the beginning of the quarterly activities schedule.

       1984 (June 25 –August 10) Don Mount completes 3,375 mile cycling trip across America.

        Sept.22,1984 saw the first Batona Trail (40.6 miles) in a day event. The trail has since grown to about 52 miles.

          1984 Cpe May weekend started.

         1985 Winter cover introduced the familiar OCSJ logo selected from among many contest entries. 

          Membership fee increases to $4 single and $6 family. Club has 1,600 members.

          Wednesday hike become a reality.

          “The “Beast of the East” metric century bike ride commences. 

Fall 1990 bicycling appoints coordinators for the different ride classifications. 
         The Fall 1990 printed schedule is called “RAMBLER’ 

       The1991 Winter schedule is called the “Wayfarer”

       The 1991 Spring schedule debuts the familiar “Trekker”

       The club reached a milestone in the Fall of 1991-2000 members and a membership           fee increase (($8 individual  , $10 family)
       November  7, 1992 was the occasion of the 25 th. Anniversary Dinner and Dance..


1968-1970 BERT NIXDORF
1970-1971 WALTER HAYES
1971-1972 JOE SIGONA 
1972-1981 BERT NIXDORF
1981-1991 TOM BROOKS


Some Milestone Events (1993- Present )

I hope you enjoy this brief history of the second 25 years . A description of the most recent years is planned next. If you have any events you would like to include, corrections ,comments etc.

Contact Frank Pearce ,  historian@ocsj.org 


1991-2000 Joseph Trujillo

2001-2002 John Bauer


2003 Jan.-Mar. Manny Robbins


2003 Apr. – 2004 April Mike Baker


2004 May-2006 Dennis Mckane


2006 July -2009 Kathleen Pearce


2010-2011 Tom Neigel


2012-2013 Bruce Steidel


2014-2015 Bob DiMarco


  2016-   Barbara Brandt


2,013 members

Joseph Trujillo, President

26 participants in long walk-8 completed 50 miles

107 volunteers for 8 th. Annual   Earth Day.

$10 Gift certificates for Leadership Awards- store depends on activity.

Learn to canoe -well attended

Sister Club in Siberia “Outdoor Club of Siberia”

Club Insurance -not cover canoeing

Map and compass course.

Charitable Contributions Committee report. List not exclusive, but dynamic -changing as our needs change.



1,972 members

Joseph Trujillo, President

Board authorizes payment to any member attending pinelands Short Course two new policies

February-Helmets mandatory for all bike riders-voted by leaders

Life vests mandatory for all persons on board water craft-New Federal Law

Schedule includes -Compass Instruction, paint Ball combat, Dinner Cruise from Sea Isle City., Flat Tie Clinic

March-Club Policy Dogs allowed on hikes at discretion of leader. In addition to NJ Law-Dogs on State property must be on leash

April Pace pledge added to Trekker  -keep classes at recommended pace.

May telephone hotline approved 427-7777 Q&Q requested ad with biking $250   offset cost in Phone Book.

June -New insurance (MCKAY), New sign-in, incident report forms. Board rejects umbrella policy.

Conflict Beast of East-Forest service issued permit to another group

Girl Scout Troop 331 issued membership card.

September “Beast of East” event 300 participants-3 accidents

$500   profit donated to PPA 

October Pizza Party for volunteers of Beast of East



1,947 members

Joseph Trujillo, President

Holiday Party Club 25, Maple Shade

6 th. Annual Cape May Weekend.

500 Club Patches

Trips planned for California and Norway.



1,857 members (February 1996)

Joseph Trujillo, President

Earth day cleanups at Whitesbog, Rancocas State park, 2 Day Backpack Cleanup to lower Forge 3 River Cleanups-Oswego, Mullica, Cedar picked up 480 lbs. of trash

Club received certificate of appreciation   for 2nd year from State of New Jersey. Letter of thanks from PPA and Bicycling Coalition of Delaware Valley. Water safety rules on phone hotline. 

No reimbursements for travel approved.

Club favors single use trails.



August 1976 members

Joseph Trujillo, President

Motion for Singles’ Chair   not pass.

October Proposed Accounting recommendations.

Cyclists Leaders meeting at Brick Oven Restaurant in Mt. Laurel



1,963 members

Joseph Trujillo, President

January $700 approved to purchase brush cutter.



1,876 Members (April)

Joseph Trujillo, President

April Table at WPEN Senior Expo at Garden State Race Track

Table at Cherry Hill Drug Alliance event at Cherry hill Hilton.

1000 Decals purchased. hats purchased. Bike   shirts purchased.

Proposal of   meetings every 2 months voted down.



1,780 members

Joseph Trujillo, President

Cycling has 60 ride leaders. Organizing an OCSJ team for MS ride



1733 members
John Bauer President

September 2 buses scheduled for NY   cancelled due to 9-11 Attack on WTC

2 canoe trips planned per month during the Winter

OCSJ MS riders   raise $25,000


1748 members

John Bauer President since Jan.2001

Looked into alternate insurance- no success.

Grand Mile Club started. By Bill Poulson


Plaque to Kathleen and Frank Pearce for efforts in organizing Annual Holiday Party.


Cleanup Unexpected. Joe Trujillo, co-coordinator. April 13

Long Walk -50 mile Batona Trail

$250 donated to Gateway Alliance for NJ section

On 13 th. Trenton Thunder Baseball Game

Volunteer Award Certificate from State of NJ

Problem with Insurance Coverage.


Policy, in interest of safety, not list activities in wooded areas where hunting may occur during 6 day shotgun dear season.


Awards Dinner resumed at Prince Dinner Burlington, NJ

Last meeting at Cherry Hill Library due to Construction of new facility.


Oct. 6 Whitesbog Festival Booth

New Insurance thru McKay linked to Bicycle Touring Group

Meeting at Mt Laurel library.


Old records sorted and organized by Kathleen Pearce

Certificate of Appreciation presented to Joseph Fabian for Volunteer service as ride leader and Treasurer (July 1987-December 1992) and January 1995-December 2002)

John Bauer thanked for 2 years as President and before that as Vice President



2003 1896 members

         Manny Robbins (3 mo)/Mike Baker.

         Insurance doesn't cover Downhill skiing .

         Display board created for events

         $ 9,600  projected budget loss for year. 

         Membership dues increased(1 yr) $13 single, $15  family (3 yr.) $36 single and $42 family Effective  January  2004.

         Absentee voting  not allowed by bylaws., 


2004 1847 members.

        Mike Baker (5 mo.)/Dennis McKane ,President

        Use of term Singles Event is  exclusionary and  violation of  OCSJ   stated policy.

        Minor  under 18 . can not join club on  own.

        Club Banner purchased

       .Richard Greve Memorial started  

        Harper's Ferry  work trip  renamed  "Richard Greve Memorial Work trip"

        100 th. Anniversary of  Bass River SF  -OCSJ   participate.

        Club purchases canopy.

        Cross Country Skiing  listed in Trekker for first time..No longer separate  schedule.


2005 1762 members.

        Dennis McKane,President

        Grand Mile Club started.

        First use of  mailing service.

        Membership list  being cleaned up-  end  paid service

        Batona trail  Map  created by OCSJ  member-eventualy used by state.

        $500 donation to unexpected Wildlife Refuge to help purchase additional land.

        Club must approve all links on website.

        All paddlers must wear PFD"s

        Website no longer password protected.

        Standard meeting places page added to  Trekker


2006 1663  members.

        Dennis McKane ,President

        Members can opt out of receiving printed Trekker.

        New .Club website  

        Insurance  no longer  cover  trips outside US  except  Canada and US  Territories.

        Guest policy changed-Guests may try each activity once.

        OCSJ  presents  lecture on  paddling at the Pineland's Short Course.

         Pineland Discovery Day cancelled after many years.

         Club  has  booth at County Living fair  at Batsto.

         Leave No Trace policy  officially adopted.

         Members  help at  opening of Medford Canoe Trail.

         Minors on sign-in sheets "Parents or designated  adults  are responsible for  minor  children (under 18)          and  must  

        sign in  for them and  accompany them."

         Hot Dog hike had   60 people many returning alumni.


2007 1455 members.

         Kathleen Pearce,President

         Club reserves too low. Awards Dinner cancelled.

         Membershp raised to $20 single , $25 family 3 yr. membership eliminated $5 fee for printed Trekker.

         Items for sale -must be sold at cost.

         Leader's breakfast held at Atsion Lake.

         50%  of renewals   request E-Trekker

         500 mile club  started.


2008  1,400 members.

           Kathleen Pearce,President

          Lecture on  Ultra light Backpacking presented  at Mt. Laurel Library.

          Course on  Hiking  presented at Pineland's Short Course.

          "Ooops reminder cards" for subscription  renewals.

          Gift wrapping by members   at L. L Bean raised $500 plus  $288 in tips for  Greve Fund.

          OCSJ  continues MS  ride participation.

          Leaders must hand in Sign-in sheets in order to remain leaders..

          No I-pods on  bike rides.


2009  1,320 members.

           Kathleen Pearce,President

          AYH   dropped from the club's name.

          Presentation on  Backpacking/Hiking  for Pineland's Short Course.

          125  attend Club open house held at Cherry Hill Armory.Lectures, displays, by OCSJ , Bel Haven  ,LLBean,  REI,

          EMS, D&Q,  and   Paddle Shack. Hike, raffle ,free refreshments. Club store closed. Items Club items in   future  must be pre-             sold. 

          Trip to Alaska.


2010  1,139 members.

          Tom Neigel, President

         Insurance not allow use of  brush trimmer. or alcohol included in cost of club trip.

          Facebook site  started.

          New website   created.

          New policy for multi-club  trips. All members &  guests must sign-in on  OCSJ sign-in  sheet.if  both       groups

          lead  by OCSJ leader leading for   both clubs. If  seperate  leaders, .each  group will use  their own  sheets.

          Washington  DC  bus trip continues.

          OCSJ  paid  NJ  and Federal  taxes.

          Constant Contact " approved.

          Gift wrapping at LL Bean raises   $200  for club

           NYC   Bus Trip cancelled -low participation. after many successful  years.

           Presentation by member  on Elizabeth , Coleman White  Symposium  held at Whitesbog.


 2011   1,045 members.  

            Tom Neigel,President               

           Club Picnic at Parvin SP All activities represented.

           Club Pizza Party in leiu of  meeting.

           Cape May event  continues at Chalfonte Hotel

           Meetup  groups started.

           Video added to website.


2012    950 members

            Bruce Steidel,President..

           Club  asked by Batona  Club  to  take over  maintenance of trail from Batsto to Carranza. Club  agrees.

           OCSJ  has  booth at  Jersey Paddler's  Paddlesport  for first time.

           Members   complete reroute  of Batona thru Franklin Parker Preserve.

           Club  Picnic held at Pakim Pond.

            Members do ribbon cutting of  "ne"  last 2 1/2 miles of the Batona Trail in Bass River SF on  25 th.                                                     Anniversary  of the trail.

            Pay Pal used for first time.

            Nora Hayes ,wife of  OCSJ  founding  member, Water Hayes, donates  $250,000  to the New Jersey                                                   Conservancy.


2013     908 members.

             Bruce Steidel ,President

            Club membership has fallen  by 50%  in past 10 years. This is in  line with  most established   clubs.

            "First Day Hike  " lead.

            Trail  maintenance continues-19 volunteers.

            Biking Rider Training &   Skills Clinic  

            Spring Picnic  well attended.

            Apres Ski  Party  continues to be successful.

             Holiday  Party attendance down after  many  sellouts.. N ew DJ   had unfavorable  rating.


2014    1000 members.

            Bob DiMarco,President

            Free  1 year  membership extension  for  officers board members  and  leaders that meet that meet                                                   requirements.    

           110 attend  Spring picnic at Pakim Pond.

            Membership Cards  no longer used. replaced by Welcome letter to new members or E-mail or Post cards.

            Financial audit completed.

            Non-OCSJ  rides not to be posted  unless a  charity event.

            Cafe Press  to be used for Club merchandise   sales.

             General membership meeting held at Vitarelli's Restauranrt.

             Special trip or event organizer  may receive  free 1 year  mebership extension.  

             Fall Picnis  at Smithville Woods.

             State has given approval to  blazing  Statewide Trail in some areas.


2015    874 members

.           Bob DiMarco ,President

           Holiday Party discontinued.

            Printed Trekker is to be discontinued. Spring 2017  to be last issue.

            Paddlesport went well.

            Approx. 75  attended Spring Picnic.\                

            Fall picnic to be discontinued.Bad weather  -low attendance.]

            Joint trips with other groups are ok as long as everyone signs in.

            $100 to be  presented to Pineland's Preservation Alliance each year in  memory of  deceased  members.

            Wet  or dry suits required  for  paddle trips  during months of  Nov. thru March unless except  approved.

2016 Wild Apricot  Co. approved as OCSJ  automated  system for  membership.

          Club poster created.

          Club  hats and  wicking shirts offered for  sale at Spring Picnic.

          Wahington DC  Bus trip and Cape May weekend  continue.

          Spring Printed Trekker  will be last   in current format .


          Doug Hillebrecht  will continue printing at no cost to club.starting with 2017 Summer Trekker.

          Awards Diner at the Pub in Pennsauken.

2017  February meeting cancelled due to snow..

          OCSJ invited to Mohawk  Leadership Training session

          Spring Picnic at Pakim Pond ,Wahington DC  Bus trip and Cape May weekend  continue..

          50 th. Anniversary Cycling shirts   available.

          Photo contest approved. Winners to be featured in 2018 calendar.Sales to benefit Greve fund..

          Kayak Safety program.

          OCSJ  participates in   REI Biking Expo.

          OCSJ  will send representatives of the club  to Pinelands Commision  Meeting.. 

          E-mail can  be used  by  Board  to  vote  in  emergency  situatios. Only the President  can call for such            a  vote.