How to survive Heifer Ranch

Feeling scared of the unknown? Here are some tips on how to make the most of your Heifer experience.

I’m sure you’ve heard the stories and rumors about the horrors of the dreaded Sophomore Heifer Trip. But no matter how many stories you’ve heard from juniors and seniors who have survived, you may find yourself with more questions than you started with. So, what do you actually need to know? Here are eight tips on how to survive Heifer.

1. Bring layers. Let’s face it: even if you swear by the Weather app, you can’t really predict anything. You also, like most people, are probably not used to sleeping outside in early March. “Look at your pile of clothes,” senior Laura McDowell says. “You’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of warm clothes.’ Now go get more.” Other things you may want to bring include mud-friendly shoes, thermal underwear and hand sanitizer.

2. Pop the baby. Or don’t. If you find yourself saddled with a baby, take a moment to remember where you are, and that the thing you are holding is, in fact, a water balloon. You can choose to pretend that the water balloon is an actual baby and care for it. You can also, say, throw it at an opposing group. It’s your choice.

3. The refugee camp isn’t the worst place you can be. Since you’re given very little to start with, people in the refugee camp actually receive the most pity from other groups, making it the first recipients of leftover food. Which place is the worst to be in? That’s easy: all of them.

4. Don’t get extra with your food. If you are one of the lucky groups with an adequate amount of food, don’t try anything fancy with them. If you have rice, cook rice. If you have carrots, cook carrots. You’d be surprised how many modern meals require all sorts of different ingredients that you will not have an Heifer. If you try making Osaka’s vegetable fried rice, you’re just going to end up with a disappointing bowl of onion-mush.

5. Don’t trust Guatemala. They’re greedy double-crossers who will play friendly and run off with your spices as soon as you turn your back.

6. Look up the symptoms of hypothermia before you leave. That way, when you find yourself awake in the middle of the night with your feet feeling suspiciously warm-numb, you won’t begin to panic. Or you will, depending on your symptoms.

7. Don’t bother trying to sleep. It’s not going to happen.

8. Only one can come out victorious. It’s true that if you all choose to work together and combine your resources, you will all be able to eat and have a good time. However, you and I both know that won’t happen anytime soon. There’s always going to be one person that gets a little greedy, steals a couple onions, and before you know it, starts a siege on Thailand. That’s the lesson you’re learning by going to Heifer; people in the best camp are not going to sacrifice their positions for people in the worst camp, both in Heifer and in the real world. So, don’t expect anything from this lawless wasteland: now is the time to go wild. Senior Shoaf Robinson agrees, saying, “Heifer is a time to be savage.” Get ready, prepare yourself, and you might survive the chaos.