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The Infamous HOBO Hike

The HOBO Hike is a rite of passage for all business students at Juniata.  Everyone on campus knows about it, but only a select few have really experienced it.  It’s a mystical and cryptic field trip that you’ll immediately hear fellow Juniatians talking about, but they don’t reveal what exactly it is.  To start, let’s break down what HOBO is; the actual name of the course is Behavioral Analysis of Organizations.  However, it was originally called something like Human Behavior in Organizations.  The professor at the time decided HBO was already taken, so he threw in the “O” to separate it from the TV channel.  And so, the class was dubbed HOBO and it has remained that way ever since.

Personally, HOBO is my favorite class I’ve taken at Juniata.  I constantly refer to it as “business psych” to my non-business POE friends, because that is essentially what it covers.  We learn about motivation, personality, group behavior, leadership, and more that helps explain how and why to make good management decisions from a behavioral perspective.  It really lines up with my personal interests as well as my hands-on learning style.  I like that I can look around in a class or at work and see the HOBO concepts we’ve just discussed in action.  We also look at business cases and apply HOBO theory to different management situations to deepen our understanding of the concepts and how they work in real life.

The most hands-on learning experience though, is the hike.  The class is split into groups a few weeks in advance of the hike, and you do various activities to get to know each other a little bit.  Then comes hike day, where you leave campus all day to go hike in a nearby state forest.  Once you arrive at Rothrock State Forest, the vans drop the groups off one-by-one along the road, and each group is sent off with a map marked with checkpoints.  The hike is BYOC (bring your own compass) so make sure someone in your group gets one and that people know how to use it!  From there, it is up to the group to make decisions about how they are going to navigate to reach the checkpoints.  Some groups try to use the trails and roads on the map while others opt to just tramp through the woods in the general direction of the checkpoint. 

What would you do? Trudge through the forest or stick to the path?

There’s no sugar-coating it, the hike is difficult.  It is a long day of physical activity, adventure, and group decision making.  However, the hike will continue to be one of my most cherished memories and proudest achievements in college thus far.  It was an experience unique to Juniata for sure, none of my friends at other schools have anything that even comes close to our hike.  It’s probably better that way though, the HOBO hike can remain one more legend in the book of Juniata Lore.

-Libby Schreffler ’21, Entrepreneurship POE