Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Who Are The Orienteers?

In order to accomplish our goals, the program sends trips of around ten participants into the New England wilderness. These trips showcase a wide variety of outdoors experiences: while many students simply backpack along ridges and peaks and sleep under tarps at night, others spend half of their time canoeing in lakes, while still others participate in service and trail maintenance. We recognize that for some students, FOP is the first of hopefully many opportunities to engage intimately with the outdoors, and in response have piloted some trips to lodge in a Harvard Forest cabin and conduct day hikes to meet their level of comfort. Though our trips differ in some logistics, all of them are structured to balance time in an environment outside of campus proper while incorporating intentional conversations and group bonding at night. 

At the same time, FOP offers leadership development for current college students. Each year, a trainee class of around 60 leaders is selected, who proceed to learn both technical and interpersonal skills. This culminates in a training trip at the end of the spring semester, where prospective leaders experientially learn and demonstrate their abilities in a practical nine-day session. A week before trips go out in August, leaders are brought back to campus to engage in Pre-FOP, which combines workshops and bonding with an opportunity for leaders to learn from one another and bring the community together. From there, they embark on their trips.

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