This past weekend saw hordes of students roaming from party to party, but last weekend was a bit quiet–probably because a number of returning students spent the weekend leading groups of freshmen around the countryside on OINK (Outdoor Orientation for New Kids) trips. Senior and OINK leader Christina Wu shared some photos and information about the program.
Although backpacking and canoeing are among OINK activities, the program is not intended to be the exclusive domain of hard-core Mountain Clubbers. Wu’s trip, for instance, focused on volunteer service:
Our OINK trip consisted of gleaning at the Golden Russet Farm, apple picking at Champlain Lake Orchards and then donating the food we collected to Addison County’s Food Shelf. In addition to this, we spent 5 hours working in [the Food Shelf’s] kitchen, blanching chard and making salsa. We collected approximately 500 pounds of potatoes and 20 pounds of squash (there was much less squash on the field). It was a wonderful experience and our group really bonded over the service work.
Instead of making “pig out” puns, I’ll just move on to a very brief history of OINK.
For a number of years, Middlebury provided an optional pre-orientation weekend for adventurous new students (with some cash to spare), called variously MOO (Middlebury Outdoor Orientation) and MiddView. Then, the recession hit, and MiddView was cut. However, a group of adventurous non-new students got together a petition to bring back the outings in some form; the result was OINK!
I remember my MOO weekend fondly. Logistical concerns have forced OINK to take place one week after classes start, which may decrease the sense of adventure and newness I felt on my trip. Still, judging from Wu’s experiences, the spirit of this unique program is still alive. There’s something to be said for leaving campus and learning about Middlebury’s environs before being sucked back into schoolwork.
You can learn more about the OINK program by contacting Marty Schnure (‘10.5) or Lisa Luna (’13).