AESOP was started over 20 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. See the trip page!
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.
Questions? Contact us at email@example.com or at 207-330-0610