About hoofers

The Wisconsin Hoofers exists to provide recreational and educational opportunities in the outdoors to all club members and to provide meaningful social education and club leadership opportunities to students and non-students alike. We believe that the many outdoor activities each Hoofer club offers can be utilized as the pretext of lessons in social education and intra- and inter-personal development. The activity itself serves as the vehicle through which students can gain a better understanding of themselves, their relation to others, and how to best be of service to their club community.


What makes the Wisconsin Hoofers unique among collegiate outdoor recreation programs is the involvement and cooperation of three critical parties: the student leaders, the community educators, and the professional advising staff. Understanding the interlocking roles of these three parties is a necessity for all Hoofer leaders and will aid in navigating the social complexity of this organization.


Students are the reason the Wisconsin Union was brought into existence in 1907—due to the recognized need for the University to provide a place to enhance the communal life of students in work, play, and social relations. The student experience (especially the student leadership experience) is the centerpiece of Hoofers and as such, student leaders have authority as club agenda-setters and decision-makers. While students should have the final say in the direction of their club, student leaders should rely on the advising staff and community members for support, advice, and information in decision-making and program execution processes.


Community members have served as a pillar of support of the Hoofer clubs since Hoofers was founded in 1931. It is rare for a collegiate outdoor program to include those from outside of the University, but in the case of Hoofers, our community members have shown their indispensability in supporting and bolstering the student leadership experience, educating club members with their vast knowledge of safety and other practices related to specific activities, and providing vast institutional memory of past club practices and traditions. The Hoofer clubs could not continue to function without the backing of engaged, thoughtful, and cooperative community member leaders.


The role and purpose of the professional staff is provide a gateway to necessary University departments and administrators and to ensure the stable, thoughtful, and responsible administration of the Hoofer Clubs. This often takes the form of educating on Union/University policy and procedure, risk mitigation, and coaching on topics such as management, leadership, communication, and process improvement practices within their respective clubs. While the professional staff endeavors to make club goals and initiatives a reality, the staff have the authority and responsibility to properly vet the safety of all club programming and to immediately stop any unsafe practices or behaviors by a clubs, its leaders, or members—in order to ensure the safety of all club members as well as the long-term success of Hoofers as an organization.


The cooperation and goodwill of these three parties is paramount to the success of the Hoofer Clubs. A successful partnership between these parties recognizes that students, community members, and staff working together are far more productive and experience a much more rewarding relationship than the alternative.  An adversarial relationship, where staff are seen as “the administration” (and something to maneuver around) and students and community members are seen as “transient” (and something to endure for the short term) not only leads to lower quality programming and a stressful work environment, it also fails to build Hoofer loyalty for the long term.  

That all being said, the rest of this Hoofer leader site will provide valuable information that will greatly assist you in navigating the rest of your leadership and management roles within the Hoofer Clubs. Please take some time to acquaint yourself with all information included here as it will show you the basics on how to perform a number of critical responsibilities expected of Hoofer leaders.