The First-Year Outdoor Program ("FOP") is Harvard's largest and oldest pre-orientation program. Since 1979, thousands of students have started their college experience by going on a FOP trip. FOP is a great way to meet new classmates and to ease the adjustment from high school to college. The variety of week-long hiking, service, switch (part hiking, part canoeing), and cabin trips we offer provide an excellent learning environment where cooperation, initiative, and reflection lead to the development of a strong community and to personal insights that are helpful even in the urban setting of Harvard.

Our trips are led by second-, third-, and fourth-year Harvard students from all walks of life who represent the vibrancy and diversity of the Harvard community. FOP Leaders have been trained in outdoor leadership and certified in Wilderness First Aid. FOP is run by an undergraduate steering committee and a director, and is administratively operated through Harvard College's Dean of Students Office.

Mission Statement

The mission of FOP is to provide group adventure-based experiences that promote the development of social support and self-awareness for first-year students, and leadership development for members of the Harvard community. FOP should be a resource and support system throughout freshman year. FOP also maintains the following as central values:

  • Compassion
  • The equality and intrinsic worth of all people regardless of gender, age, race, sexual Orientation, religion, ethnic or socioeconomic background
  • Responsibility to community
  • Care and responsibility to the environment

Goals of the Programgoal

The goals of FOP for each participant are as follows:

  • Improve the transition from high school to Harvard
  • Make friends with fellow first-years and upperclassmen who can support and encourage each other
  • Learn about cooperation, initiative, and endurance in a wilderness setting, leading to insights which may transfer to life at Harvard
  • Develop a sense of community and a positive connection with Harvard as a whole

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