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AESOP is a completely student run (the only one of its size left in the country!) pre-orientation program that takes place prior to the “official” orientation program during the first week of September. These trips, adventures, excursions, and voyages allow you to arrive at Bates a few days earlier to relax, take a deep breath, and meet new friends before the beginning of your first year of college. AESOP offers four day trips that are led by current students from all class years.

There is no better way to get to know your new home than to spend some time outside in the area and have some fun! From the White Mountains to the Moose River, AESOP offers a variety of trips that get you out in Maine, New Hampshire, and even just into Canada for the last few days of summer. You can backpack on the Appalachian Trail, float on the Saco River, pass the time “Chillin” in Acadia, or even surf or sail along Maine’s famous coastline. There are trips for all levels of experience, from the “never held a paddle or climbed a peak before” to advanced “paddled many a rapid and summited many a peak” levels (note: all Base Camping and Community Service trips simply require an advanced level of enthusiasm). Many of our leaders participated in AESOP as first-year students and have come back to share their good times with you.

Take a look through this website and see what sparks you interest, then be sure to head over the Garnet Gateway and fill out your application. We hope you can find something of interest; there is more variety than ever this year- our great group of leaders, ranging from sophomores to seniors, have put together some fantastic trips and are all very excited about this year’s


AESOP was started over 30 years ago by a small group of students from the Bates Outing Club whose mission was to get first-year and transfer students excited about Bates through a challenging yet rewarding outdoor experience. Since its humble beginnings, AESOP has grown into the largest (and only remaining!) entirely student-run outdoor orientation program in the country. Today, AESOP consists of 48 separate trips with nearly 100 volunteer student-leaders, and typically draws in well over 350 members of the first-year class!  We run trips for all different levels of ability and interest, and have evolved over the years to create a unique program that offers an experience all entering students can enjoy.


While each trip is as unique as the area you will travel through and the leaders who will take you there, they each have the same general structure. All trips are limited to 8 students and are 4-days/3-nights in length, and each trip is led by a co-ed student-leader pair. The small size of these trips allows students to more comfortably transition into the college experience, while getting to know fellow classmates before getting into the swing of things on campus. While the official designation of AESOP is an “orientation” program, our primary goal is to make sure you have fun and meet other students while enjoying the outdoors.


All trips are led by a co-ed, volunteer pair of upper-class students.  The leader selection process is extremely competitive and selects students based on their outdoor leadership experience, enthusiasm about Bates, and their overall excitement about the AESOP program. In addition, all leaders go through a rigorous training process ahead of the trips themselves, and are all Wilderness First Aid certified. We like to make the distinction that AESOP is run by “student leaders,” not “student guides.”  The leaders are not there to carry you through your trip, but rather to provide the experience and leadership necessary for a safe excursion into the wilderness.  However once these trips end and the school year begins, it is important to note that these leaders are also your peers.  One of the most important aspects of the program is the ability to connect with upper-class students who then become friends and mentors throughout your time at Bates.

Our 2013 Leaders!

Questions?  Contact us at aesop.bates@gmail.com or at 207-330-0610