Did these North Dakota high school girls really earn letters for eating breakfast?

Before Title IX, some schools got creative with activities for the female students.

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Grand Forks Central's 1936 Outing Club.
Forx/Grand Forks Central Yearbook/1936

GRAND FORKS — OK, maybe that headline is a stretch. These young women in Grand Forks Central's 1936 yearbook didn't just earn school letters by eating breakfast, but that was a big part of the drill.

Meet "The Outing Club."

Nearly 40 years before Title IX was passed and girls had more opportunities to participate in athletics, these Grand Forks girls found a new opportunity to get involved. By the way, this is the second time in three weeks I've featured Grand Forks Central High School students in "Back Then with Tracy Briggs." I wrote about some students here in 1966 going for a teeter-totter record . I promise it's just a coincidence. I'm not taking payments under the table from the administration there. But you guys have my number, right?

Anyway, the 27 young women in "The Outing Club" took "Saturday Morning Breakfast Hikes" to earn credit and that big GF letter to put on their class sweaters.

Some of the girls who earned letters at Grand Forks Central High School in 1936 received the honor by participating in "The Outing Club."
Contributed / Forx / Grand Forks Central High School yearbook

According to the yearbook, "starting from Central about 7 o'clock, they hike at least five miles on each trip, and the attainment of their goal always means one thing — breakfast!"


What a grand idea, right? Where was this club in 1982 when I was in high school?

But lest we think these girls just walked around the block before plopping down for pancakes and eggs Benedict, the yearbook assures us that sometimes the food was "humble fare but they didn't mind."

Starting from Central about 7 o'clock, they hike at least five miles on each trip, and the attainment of their goal always means one thing – breakfast!
Grand Forks Central 1936 Yearbook entry about the activities of "The Outing Club."

After they had hiked 65 miles total, the student was given 50 points toward attainment of a school letter. The girls would also get credit for extra miles hiked as long as they were with at least two other "sport girls."

The yearbook estimated that the girls had hiked the equivalent of an airline trip from Grand Forks to San Francisco — more than 1,200 miles.

When I shared this photo on my personal Facebook page suggesting we restart a new "outing club," I had 70 likes and more than 35 women who said they'd be all for starting a 2022 grown-up version of the club — perhaps not breakfast, but happy hour.

I had others say their Saturday morning running clubs are basically the modern-day version of The Outing Club.

Tracy Clow is part of Fargo Ninja Runners. The group has been around for nine years and includes 130 members who have followed in The Outing Club's footsteps. Clow says after the run, they might stop at a brewery or go for brunch.

"It's so fun to get outside and run with friends. The miles click by and the conversations can be serious to hilarious. And who doesn't like a reward after a workout?" she says.


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Running groups around town might be the modern-day equivalent of The Outing Club. From left, Amy Parra, Danielle Scherr, Tracy Clow and Kristin Leadbetter are part of Fargo Ninja Runners, a group that enjoys food and drink after a run.
Contributed / Tracy Clow

Personally, I've been part of my own version of The Outing Club for about 25 years. It started around 1998, when Billy Blanks was all the rage. Remember him? He was the guy who popularized Tae Bo, a workout combining taekwondo and boxing.

My friend suggested a group of us try to do his Tae Bo workout in her basement. We did it for a couple of Thursdays when someone suggested we go out for a bite to eat afterwards. As you can imagine, the basement Tae Bo workouts fell by the wayside, but the dining continued. And because pie was often involved, one friend's husband dubbed us the Tae Pie or Pie Bo club. Clever man.

A quarter century, marriages, babies and a lot of pie later, our version of The Outing Club is still going strong. Maybe someone needs to give us our letters already.

Tracy Briggs (right) and a friend throwing imaginary hats in the air in front of the Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis.
Tracy Briggs

Tracy Briggs is an Emmy-nominated News, Lifestyle and History reporter with Forum Communications with more than 35 years of experience, in broadcast, print and digital journalism.
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