35 Years of FOOT: First-Year Students Embark on Annual Backpacking Trips


By Miriam Brown ’21

Emma Gorsuch ’21spent her first block break at Colorado College backpacking with other first-year students on a First Year Outdoor Orientation Trip. And this year during the first block break, as a junior she returned as a trip leader.

The CC FOOT program started in 1984 and has been sending out trips during the first block break, between Blocks 1 and 2 every year since. Trips are led by upper-class students who are certified through the Office of Outdoor Education and are open to first-years of any experience level.

This year, 57 first-year students participated in eight trips to destinations around Colorado such as the Lost Creek Wilderness, the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Holy Cross Wilderness, Pike National Forest, and San Isabel National Forest.

Gorsuch and Kadin Mangalik ’20led eight first-year students through Buffalo Peaks Wilderness near South Park, Colorado. They hiked, meditated, ate meals together, shared life stories, and played get-to-know-you games like Hotseat. While on their way back to campus at the end, Gorsuch and Mangalik took a detour to Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival to show the first-year participants that there’s more to do in Colorado then hiking.

For Gorsuch, the students were the best part of the trip. She says she was impressed by the first-years’ openness in sharing their stories, respectfulness toward each other, and kindness about mistakes. She says the trip renewed her excitement “about CC and what CC can be,” and she hopes that the participants view her as a friend and a resource, whether to give advice on classes or drive them to King Soopers when they need groceries.

“I hope for them they got some sense of having a friend or someone to turn to within their class as well as in the upper class because I think it’s really easy to feel lonely as a first year,” Gorsuch said. “And also a sense that CC’s not as overwhelming and scary as it perhaps seems at first… even the older students don’t have it all together and that’s okay.”

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