Lanesboro student leads Bates' AESOP orientation

Two-hundred and thirty-six incoming students — half the class of 2001 at Bates College — will first face physical rigors, while hiking, rock climbing, canoing, backpacking or mountain biking in the Annual Entering Student Outdoor Program (AESOP) orientation. Dan Voisin, a Bates senior from Lanesboro, Mass., is overseeing the pre-orientation program, including transportation, food and gear procurement as well as training the 52 student-trip leaders.

Incoming students may choose from one of 25 three- and four-day AESOP trips, which include canoeing the West Branch of the Penobscot River in northern Maine, day hiking in Acadia National Park, mountainbiking on the cross-country ski trails near Sugarloaf/USA and backpacking through some of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, start Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 26 and 27.

Though the trips differ in degree of difficulty — from short day hikes to backpacking 15 miles per day over the toughest stretch of the Appalachian Trail — all provide students the opportunity to make friends before the academic challenges set in.

“It’s a chance for new students to break the ice and to get candid answers to their questions about Bates from the trip leaders,” Voisin said. “Some of the participants have never been camping, and a big part of going to college in Maine is enjoying the outdoors.”

Each trip consists of 10 new students and two upperclass-student leaders, who have received mandatory CPR, wilderness first aid and group- dynamics training from the Bates Outing Club and Tri-County Emergency Medical Services in Lewiston. Though participating students are encouraged to bring their own gear, the Bates Outing Club — among the oldest collegiate outing clubs in the country and the first at a private college to include both men and women from the beginning – supplies tents, stoves, backpacks, sleeping bags and other necessary equipment for any of the AESOP trips. Food is supplied by Bates Dining Services and prepared on site by the students. Twenty-seven vans, one trailer and one U-Haul truck will transport students and their gear on the various trips.

AESOP trips preceed the regular new student orientation, which begins Saturday, Aug. 30, and the start of classes on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

A geology major, Voisin is a member of the Bates varsity cross-country ski team. A graduate of Mt. Greylock Regional High School, he is the son of Thomas and Lucille Voisin of Lanesboro.

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