What is Freshman Fest?

Calling all incoming Jewish Freshmen: get a jump-start on your college experience at Cornell Hillel's 10th annual Freshmen Fest at the Hoffman Ropes Course! Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to meet other Jewish freshmen and connect with upperclassmen who can show you 'the ropes'. Move in early to your dorm and start your orientation by creating friendships, memories, and seeing what Cornell Hillel has to offer you. After the ropes course, games, s'mores, and a night under the stars, you'll be ready to begin your Cornell career with a great group of friends!


Freshman Fest takes place the day before move-in day on Thursday, August 17th (starting at 2 PM) and you return to campus on Friday, August 18th at 10 AM.

Welcome to

Freshman Fest


Cornell Hillel's premier pre-orientation program




How do I sign up?

Sign ups for Freshman Fest 2017 are now open! Please contact cornellhillelorientation@gmail.com with questions or concerns. Click here to sign up for the pre-orientation trip of a lifetime: https://cornellhillel.wufoo.com/forms/cornell-hillel-freshmen-fest-2017/


What should I bring/pack?

To ensure that everyone has a great time, there are a few things that everyone should bring with them:

  • Closed-toe shoes (no flip flops on the ropes)
  • Water bottle
  • Comfortable clothes for moving around on the ropes course
  • Rain Gear (As you'll soon learn, Ithaca weather can be very unpredictable)
  • Warm clothes for night time (it can get into the 40s)
  • PJ's
  • Sleeping Bag or Blanket
  • Pillow
  • Flashlight
  • Something soft to sleep on (such as a yoga mat – the yurt has wooden floors) We will have about 25 yoga mats but that will not be enough for everyone
  • Change of clothes for the next day
  • Toiletries


As a side note, the Hoffman Challenge course does not have running water or electricity. They do have lights in the yurts at night, but no electrical outlets or running water. We will bring a few gallons of water with us, but we ask that everyone brings a water bottle of their own as well.

Also, we will be sleeping in a yurt, which is like a big enclosed tent/cabin with a wood floor, so we will be out of the weather, but it still can get chilly at night.


What happens if the weather is bad?



In the event of severe weather, we will continue to conduct team-building programs inside

the yurts and/or pavilion.  It has rained for the past few years and students have had great times nonetheless! 


Where is the Hoffman Challenge Course?


It is located on scenic Mt Pleasant, just five miles from University campus. In order to get there from Bartels Hall on campus, you can follow these directions:

  1. Take Campus Rd. (location of Bartels Hall) East (uphill) to its end at Caldwell Road.
  2. Turn right onto Caldwell Road and go to stop.
  3. Turn left onto Rt. 366 and go about 2 miles.
  4. In the hamlet of Varna, turn right onto Mt. Pleasant Rd. at the four-way intersection (no light or stop sign). Go exactly 2.7 miles.
  5. At 2.7 miles (100 yards before the white observatory on the right) turn left at the gated gravel driveway. The driveway is marked as number 466, although it is hard to see, and we usually have a brown wooden "Hoffman Challenge Course" sign up for programs.
  6. Drive in the gravel driveway about 200 yards, and park on the right just before a hedgerow of trees.
  7. Walk past the line of trees on the gravel driveway 50 yards to the open-sided 80-foot diameter octagonal pavilion.



Meet & befriend older students - The Hillel Orientation Team (HOT)








"Everyone was friendly, informative, [and] they reached out to make people feel welcome."


"Interactive, approachable and friendly!"



"They were very welcoming and helped bring freshman into conversations together. They answered questions openly and helped link us to the rest of the Cornell community before even arriving on campus."



"They were very friendly and open, and made sure to stop and talk with everyone."



"Everyone was really open and enthusiastic and helpful. HOT gave all of us really good and open vibes and an overall positive feel to the trip as a whole."