FOOT Leader Testimonials: “Why I Apply”

The day I got back from my freshman FOOT trip, I was dirty and exhausted and thought, this really isn’t my cup of tea. No one had ever described me as outdoorsy (and still have not, for the record), but looking back, I am so glad I changed my mind. Becoming a FOOT leader was one of the best decisions I’ve made at Yale. It not only helped me push (read: shatter) the boundaries of my comfort zone, but I have had the opportunity to mentor so many amazing underclassmen, meet some of my best friends, explore the wilderness of New England, and eat SO much peanut butter. (literally excessive amounts of peanut butter.) FOOT is unlike any other organization in its dedication and spirit, and I am living proof that you don’t have to be an expert hiker to be a FOOT leader. Join us, fluv us, I promise you won’t regret it.”
Before FOOT, I would have never felt like I belonged in this picture, let alone be a FOOT leader. If I could barely take care of myself, how would I make other freshmen feel welcome to both Yale and the outdoors? If FOOT had been my first backpacking experience, how could I lead nine others fearlessly into the wilderness? If I wasn’t hard-core enough, how would I ever be seen as a leader? These doubts tried to keep me from applying, but I realized the FOOT community is about caring about, understanding and even being excited for freshmen. It’s about sharing an amazing and comforting experience with Yalies who are feeling the same nervous excitement we felt coming in and still do now. It’s about community, love and sympathy. Finally, I thought, “yeah, I could see myself as a FOOT leader!”

“One reason I wanted to become a FOOT leader was because I wanted to foster the bonds that the freshmen can make between one another and with their leader on these trips. The week you are with them honestly doesn’t seem real- the scenery is beautiful, the miles are fun, and the time flies (because you are on FOOT-time!). But even when you get back to campus and get together for a meal, you still feel the sense you are on FOOT-time. Your FOOT group is a great place to de-stress and go to for support amid chaos at Yale! I wanted to give that feeling to other freshmen and introduce them to the great outdoors because I love it!”

Signing up for FOOT last year was almost an accident for me: Even though I loved to hike as a child with my geologist-mom, I thought FOOT mandatory orientation. How lucky I am to not have read the fine print! Being a FOOT participant (as both a leader and a FOOTie) bookends the academic year with a week of utter grounding — a moment to take deep breaths with a group of people you quickly grow to trust. My favorite part about being a leader is that you set the tone for Freshman to think of Yale: if FOOT-Yale is a place without judgment and without cattiness, then Freshman think Yale-Yale is, too! FOOT makes Yale a better place, makes FOOTies calmer freshman, and gives everyone a moment of reflection in a beautiful place. 1,000 out of 10 would recommend!”
I applied to be a FOOT leader simply because of the two FOOT leaders that led my trip. Coming to Yale, I was a terrified, nervous, totally-unprepared-for-college 18 year-old who couldn’t grow even the slightest semblance of facial hair. For me, FOOT changed all of that (well not quite all..I still can’t grow a beard)… My FOOT leaders, without even realizing it, managed to better prepare me for college in those six days on the trail than my parents did in almost 18 years of parenting (please don’t ever tell Monica or Mark that I said this)… My FOOT leaders ultimately served as a ‘bridge’ for me as I transitioned into college. And that ‘bridge’ didn’t end when our trip returned to campus; once at Yale, they continued to make themselves available, both as mentors and as friends. Ultimately, I wanted to serve as that same ‘bridge’ for freshmen like myself. While I recognize that not everyone did FOOT as freshmen and thus didn’t necessarily have a similar transition to Yale, I am led to believe that everyone here at Yale can relate to my story of having someone that has served as a ‘bridge’ for them in their transition to college. Becoming a FOOT leader is a great way to pay it forward and be that same ‘bridge’ for future freshmen.    Oh, and the outdoors are awesome. So if you’ve gone backpacking a million times, APPLY!   But even if you’ve never slept under the stars or gone days without showering, STILL APPLY!   Basically, APPLY!”
I applied to be a FOOT leader because hiking and sleeping (and pooping) together in the wilderness is the weirdest and strongest bonding experience I’ve ever had. I wanted to get to know more people as different and amazing as the ones on my freshman trip, and I wanted to encourage more people to love being in nature and waking up early to see beautiful scenes like this picture with Diksha finding something cool on a rock. 

For me, FOOT has become an eccentric, huge but also intensely close, alternatively functional and dysfunctional family that includes the kindest, most impressive, and most fun people at Yale. FOOT is where I can find life advice, hikes to East Rock, nutella, study buddies, great reunions, and kick-ass potlucks. We also have great swag, and flexible rules about showering. Home is where the FOOT is. “

“As a freshman, FOOT was not only an incredibly fun and rewarding week, but also made me feel like I had a place at Yale and would be able to face the daunting task of meeting new people and adjusting to college. Now, as a leader, I still feel the same way. Starting each year in the woods with a group of freshmen is just as refreshing as ever, and getting to know my FOOTies and watch them settle into Yale gives me an incredible sense of participating in building the Yale community.”