Want to know more?

AESOP is a student-run outdoor program that takes place during first-year orientation in September. These adventures allow you to spend time exploring opportunities away from campus with a small group of new student peers. 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 time in the area and have some fun! From the White Mountains to Baxter State Park, AESOP offers a variety of trips that get you out in Maine and New Hampshire for the last few days of summer. You can farm at Nezinscot, backpack on the Appalachian Trail, pass the time “chillin'” in Acadia, or even surf along Maine’s famous coastline. There are trips for all levels of experience. 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 to Garnet Gateway and fill out your application when it becomes available. We hope you can find something of interest; there is more variety than ever this year – our great group of leaders have put together some fantastic trips and are all very excited about this year’s adventures.


AESOP was founded over 30 years ago by a small group of Bates students whose mission was to get first-year and transfer students excited about Bates through an off-campus, student-led orientation experience. Since its humble beginnings, AESOP has grown into the largest (and only remaining!) student-run outdoor orientation program in the country. Today, AESOP consists of 60 separate trips with over 120 volunteer student leaders, and involves around 475 members of the first-year class!


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 have between 6-10 students, are 4-days/3-nights in length, and are led by a co-ed student leader pair. The small size of these trips allows students to comfortably transition into the college experience.


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 leadership experience, enthusiasm about Bates, and their overall excitement about the AESOP program. Once selected, all leaders go through a rigorous training process in advance of the trips, 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 outdoors.  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 aesop@bates.edu