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 (we suggest clicking on all of them, within each category trips vary widely!). Remember, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try something new!

This year, AESOP consists of over 60 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 or beautiful rolling trails, hang out at the beach and get to know some favorite Bates spots, live and work on our favorite farms for a few days or even swing a hammer or plant a garden on one of our community engagement 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 spend a few days in the middle of the hubbub of orientation re-centering, taking a deep breath, and meeting new friends at the beginning of your first year of college.  Each trip is led by two student leaders who have been carefully selected for their experience with their trip activity, love of Bates, college wisdom to share, 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 exciting 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. These trips all share the backpacking quality of a campsite you hike into, accessible only by foot. From an exciting new Intro to Backpacking trip to ones with 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 van-accessible campsite and trips generally spend their days going to the beach (ocean or lake), exploring beautiful and classic sites around Maine and New Hampshire, and roaming around the hills (in some cases, a few mountains!) for scenic day hikes. Ranging from beach based to campsite-in-the-woods based, check out the spread of our fun and low-key Base Camping trips.


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 travel time on the water, paddling down rivers and lakes by day and camping at established campsites on islands and riverbanks by night.

Community Engagement

Community engagement trips offer a unique and hands-on way to get involved with the local community as you start your four years at Bates.  Explore the various local engagement opportunities that Bates students love and are involved with during the school-year through the Lewiston/Auburn Community Engagement trip, or help build a house with Habitat for Humanity!

Everything Else

Sometimes our trips just refuse to fit into categories (much like our wonderful students!). From Surfing or Sailing to Biking or Rock Climbing, to even getting to know our favorite local farms on our farm trips, these trips will send you on a wild and unique ride, with awesome leaders and great new 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 that it is important to rate each trip based on its intensity for informational purposes, we would like to stress that you should not take these ratings too seriously. We rate trips by level in an attempt to 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 and willingness to try new things when reading through the trip descriptions themselves. How do you want to spend these four days of getting to know your peers and your school? Does a chill trip hanging out on the beach sound like your thing? Do you want to dive head first into the community engagement opportunities that make Bates so unique? Or are you looking to branch out and use this time to learn something new like surfing or backpacking? You are, after all, the expert of you!

If, after reading, you have any specific questions about where your own comfort and experience levels lead you, feel free to reach out to us at aesop@bates.edu.


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 (but not always) 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. Essentially, 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 (but our leaders are pros at water purification, hydration is a must!).  For canoe/kayak trips you need to be competent/comfortable swimming (lifejackets will be worn at all times on the water).  You don’t have to be experienced (in fact, AESOP is the perfect place to gain experience) but you need to be comfortable with the outdoors, excited, 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 but very rewarding, 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 physically and mentally challenging due to the rugged terrain and long days. Backpacking trips will have long 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 designed to be safe, fun, and manageable for those who don’t consider themselves to be “outdoorsy” in the stereotypical sense. Yes, you may get some mosquito bites, you might feel a little outside of your comfort zone (while being entirely safe), and you will DEFINITELY get a little dirty (it’s still summer!), but by the end you will have gone through an amazing journey, made lasting friends, and rightfully stepped into your new role as a true “’Cat.” At Bates we value growth and connection-making through challenge, and our leaders are prepared to help you do these things in an environment of joy, inclusivity, adventure and FUN!!! We give you our pledge on that.

So please, read through the following trip descriptions and remember: keep an open mind, consider trying something you might never have had the opportunity to do before, 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.