Ah, FOOT: sleeping out, carboloading, endless rain, games designed to maim, that hot poobah my first year … During term time, FOOT is pretty much just a rad group of folks who get together every once in a while and do the types of things their classmates think are a little nuts. But each August, we leaders have the pleasure and the challenge of guiding the next generation of Yalies through the backcountry of New England. How do we do it? We know a thing or two about bearbags and maps … then again, not really. mostly, it’s about creating the unique FOOT experience, and that’s made possible by the FOOT philosophy:
FOOT is about bonding.
First off, with your co-leader. Sometimes you know them, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you only know of them. A friend led a trip this year with the kid she had nicknamed “werewolf” in class last spring because of his protruding canines. Or you might have sort of met him when you stumbled out of his suite mate’s Durfee single your junior year (hypothetically) (SHAME). Fun stat: The average degree of hook-up separation with your co-leader is approximately 1.3.
Once the footies arrive, it’s all about group games and get-to- know yous. But the real bonding happens in those moments of semi-psychotic, completely ridiculous and totally useless endeavors. For instance, my co pumped up Quiet Footie and engineer Footie by enlisting them in a furious attempt to dig up and remove a hundred-something pound boulder from the ground. Two hours and a few noise complaints later we had a big rock, a big hole and lots of FOOT love.
FOOT is about comfort.
Okay: No, it’s not clean, and only the world’s greatest tarpitect can build a truly rain-proof shelter out of a few duct taped pieces of plastic, but at its core the experience is about developing self-confidence and calming down to prep for the big adventure ahead. Most of what we do as leaders, whether it’s carrying 30 pounds of group gear because bitch Footie only took the toilet paper or advising Anal Foo- tie about pre med, YDN, DS and Yale Debate, is to make our footies more comfortable. So, when Clumsy Footie falls, sprains her ankle and starts hysterically screaming “FIFTEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!” before you can even ask the stan dard “on a scale from one to 10, 10 being absolutely excruciating and one being mildly annoying, how is your pain?” question, you break out the surprise cookies and then evac that lady outta there.
FOOT is about having A LOT A LOT of fun.
There’s an interesting phenomenon my Harvester roommate has noticed about FOOT leaders: Put a bunch of them together in a room, and the energy level (and volume) grow exponentially. She finds it a bit obnoxious that FOOT leaders tend to turn even mundane activities and conversation into rowdy, com- petitive interactions usually complimented by yelling and/or rolling on the ground. We can’t all be potlucking hipsters.
What better way to get Compulsive Footie to poop in the woods than publicly cheering him on when he finally reaches for the trowel? FOOT’s crazy energy gets frosh out of their shells and lowers inhibitions — the same thing they’ll be shooting for back on campus with their first nights of boozing. And most times the results are way less regrettable than a trip to DUH … though I don’t think team player Footie felt so great after doing spice kit shots of black and red pepper.