What Trip Should I Choose?

This page provides general information regarding the level and type of AESOP trip that may be best for you. Give the whole page a read and, when you’re ready, click on the type of trip that interests you. Remember, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try something new!

This year, AESOP consists of over 50 different adventures, voyages, and excursions that provide a broad range of experiences throughout New England.  You can paddle down lakes and rivers, hike tall peaks and scenic river valleys, hang out at the beach, or even swing a hammer and/or plant a garden on one of our community service trips—the choice is yours to decide what type of experience will be right for you!

While each trip is offers a unique experience, they all follow the same general format: Each trip is 4-days and 3-nights in length and is meant to allow you to come to Bates a few days earlier to relax, take a deep breath, and meet new friends before the beginning of your first year of college.  Each trip is led by two (co-ed) student leaders who have been carefully selected for their outdoor experience, love of Bates, and all around general awesomeness, so trust us when we say you’ll be in great hands.


The trips are separated into categories, as listed below:


Can’t decided if you prefer hiking or canoeing?  Amphibious trips offer a little bit of both, with two days of hiking and two days of paddling! Cruising down streams and traversing exiting trails, you will get to experience Maine’s beautiful outdoors from two different perspectives.


Come explore the mountains of New England!  Backpacking trips vary in difficulty but they all spend 3 nights and 4 days hiking through some of the most scenic areas our region has to offer. From an exiting introduction to hiking to a steady traverse of multiple peaks, the backpacking trips are perfect for those looking to travel on foot.

Base Camping

Looking to take it easy during AESOP?  Chillin’ trips might be just for you!  Each trip is based out of a car-accessible campsite and trips generally pass the time going to the beach, exploring sites around Maine and New Hampshire, and roaming around the hills for some scenic day hikes.


If you’d rather kick off those muddy hiking boots and glide through the wilderness by canoe, you have come to the right place! Canoe trips spend all of their time on the water, paddling down rivers and lakes by day and camping on islands and riverbanks by night.

Community Service

Community service trips offer a unique and hands-on way to get involved with the local community.  Explore the various service opportunities available in the area through the Lewiston/Auburn Service trip, or help build a house with Habitat for Humanity!

Everything Else

Sometimes our trips just refuse to fit into categories. From Surfing and Sailing to Biking and Rock Climbing, to getting to know the local Nezinscot Farm on our farm trip, these trips will send you on a wild ride, with awesome leaders, and great friends.

A note about trip levels and difficulty

The following is meant to provide an explanation of how we rate each trip. While we feel as though it is important to rate each trip based on it’s intensity, we would like to stress that you should not take thee ratings too seriously. We rate trips by level to try and be as transparent as possible about the expectations for each trip; however, these ratings are meant to be used more as guidelines than hard rules. The best tip in choosing a trip is to consider your own comfort level when reading through the trip descriptions themselves.


No camping experience necessary. You will be sleeping in a tent each night and spending all day outside. These trips operate out of a “base camp” that is accessed by our vans, so there is no backpacking component, and any hiking that takes place will be shorter day hikes. In addition, these trips will often have access to flush toilets and shower facilities. This level is appropriate for anyone who is looking for an easy-going trip to start off their college experience!


Basic camping experience preferred but definitely not required. This means you will need to be comfortable spending a few days outside doing whatever activities you signed up for, and can expect to either hike or paddle for a few hours a day (for the hiking trips, you will be carrying a small day pack).  Some of these trips are not based out of a single camp, but rather move camps each night and sometimes lack facilities with running water.  For canoe/kayak trips you need to be a competent swimmer.  You don’t have to be experienced but you need to be comfortable with the outdoors and willing to learn! This is a great step towards becoming more comfortable with the outdoors if you don’t have much experience.


Camping experience preferred. These trips are mostly backpacking, canoeing, or amphibious trips that require some previous experience with the outdoors. Backpacking trips generally hike the majority of the day over some difficult terrain, canoe trips paddle longer distances, and amphibious trips are slightly more rigorous as well. These trips spend nights at different campsites each night and start and finish in different locations, passing other AESOP groups along the way. If you don’t have too much outdoor experience, but are looking for a challenge, these trips are perfect for you!

LEVEL 4:  

These trips require some knowledge and working ability of traveling in the outdoors. For the backpacking trips you will be expected to hike all day and carry about a 30-pound pack on terrain that is a bit steeper and more technical than you would find on a lower-level trip. For the water trips, you need to be confident in your ability to paddle for a few hours at a time. Nights are spent at different campsites each night and you get a glimpse of what it’s like in the backcountry of Maine and New Hampshire. These trips tend to be physically demanding, and those interested in participating in them should be in reasonably fit physical condition.


These trips are the most challenging and physically demanding that we offer. If you have previous experience in the backcountry and already know that you are capable of a physical challenge, this is the trip for you. These trips are both mentally and physically challenging due to the rugged terrain and long days. Backpacking trips will have full hiking days mostly above tree-line while carrying about a 30 pound backpack. If you are up for a challenging yet rewarding start to your Bates career, choose a level 5!

Although the location of these trips is in the outdoors, we would like to stress that these trips are (by design) perfectly manageable by those who don’t consider themselves to be “outdoorsy.” Yes, you may get some mosquito bites, you might feel outside of your comfort zone, and you will DEFINITELY get a little dirty, but by the end you will have gone through an amazing journey, made lasting friends, and rightfully earned yourself the right to be called a true “Bobcat.”  We give you our pledge on that.

So please, read through the following trip descriptions and remember: keep an open mind, try something you might not have otherwise, and get excited!

***Trips are subject to be cancelled or changed based on availability and interest

If you have any questions about AESOP, please do not hesitate to write us an e-mail.  We can be reached at aesop@bates.edu.