Thirty first-year students at Franklin & Marshall recently swapped their books and syllabi for hiking boots and trail mix.
Pioneered in 2012, Franklin & Marshall College's First-Year Outdoor Orientation Trip (FOOT) is a pre-orientation program designed for first-year students interested in sustainability, environmental education and the outdoors.
“Diving right into bonding with each other is super important to FOOT. These connections shine through when your newfound friends are cheering for each other as they reach the top of steep hills and shouting in joy when, after hours, they've collectively solved a previously stumping riddle,” said senior Glory Jacquat, student coordinator.
In late August, FOOTers and student leaders embarked on a four-day, three-night backpacking trip through a section of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Student coordinators began planning trip details in spring.
“Over the summer, we spend a lot of time making sure we have enough gear for everyone who needs to rent backpacking supplies, ensuring that our leaders are wilderness first-aid certified, and deciding what meals we want to have on the trail since feeding 30 backpackers is no small task,” Jacquet said.
The preparation is well worth it for the moments that unfold on the trail.
“Getting to know people really well in a short period of time is one of the greatest beauties that comes from spending time out in nature with one's peers. FOOT never fails to do just that,” Jacquat said.
"These connections shine through when your newfound friends are cheering for each other as they reach the top of steep hills."