Braving the elements
Ouachita’s freshman outdoor orientation combats first-year fearsJune 04, 2019 - Katelyn Myers
The first few weeks as a freshman set the tone for the rest of your college career.
Who you meet, the experiences you have and the emotions you feel during this transition
to college are moments you will remember the rest of your life.
Ouachita understands how critical it is to help freshman adapt to the new college lifestyle. So before moving in to campus, Ouachita hosts a five-day program called Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trip, or FOOT, for students to enjoy the nature Arkadelphia has to offer alongside their new peers.
Hiking, rock climbing, tubing, volunteer work in the community, campfires, worship sessions and professor meet-and-greets are just a few of the activities that you can experience during FOOT. Each activity challenges you to learn new skills and to be brave in your attempts while doing new things.
When I attended FOOT, our group went on a three-mile canoe trip with Dr. Byron Eubanks. There is no doubt in my mind that he is Superman in disguise. Dr. Eubanks made the same trip with different groups every single day and still wanted to do more. My entire body was ready to fall into the river by the end of our one-time trip.
Living in the elements, even if it is just for a few days, allows you to let your guard down and become vulnerable with those around you. For some, their vulnerability was shown through screaming in terror over bugs but who continued to endure the great outdoors. Others showed their vulnerability by telling their testimonies, and some weren’t afraid to ask or answer the hard questions about college life. By the end of the week, everyone knew who was more suitable to survive the wild outdoors and those who never wanted to camp again.
My favorite perk about going to FOOT was receiving a hammock as a part of our experience. Our campsite was so full of hammocks that I started to feel bad for the trees that had to hold three to four hammocks at a time. It also was the first time I found out that you can become motion sick from hammocks. I don’t think you would want to hear the rest.
FOOT challenges you to overcome your fears and push past the anxieties that develop when being around strangers in a new environment. Being a camper, and later a FOOT leader, was one of my favorite Ouachita experiences. Campfire conversations with my small group were some of the best I’ve ever had. When you begin to talk with the other campers, you begin to take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
Everyone is scared about their classes, roommate problems and the Freshman 15. At FOOT, a community begins to build among the campers. You know that when you walk onto campus at Ouachita, you already have friends waiting for you.
By Katelyn Myers, a 2019 communications & media/integrated communications graduate from Lafayette, La.
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