Life on a Wilderness Trip

Living in the woods is different than living in a house. Waking with the sun, walking through the trees, and sleeping under the stars all combine to make a special experience, but these differences do take a few days to get used to.

A Typical Day 

You might be wondering what your days in the woods will look like! Well, look no further! Check out this sample schedule (with very loose time frames).

Soon after the sun rises:

  • Rise and shine, it’s time to get ready for the day!
  • Pack up your sleeping bag and personal belongings
  • Pack up camp (tarps, bear bag, etc.)
  • Breakfast!
  • Finish packing your backpack with your personal and group gear
  • Fill up water bottles

Most of the day:

  • Hike on the trail, do some service work, or paddle in a canoe
  • Get to know your fellow FOPpers
  • Do things you didn't think you could
  • Take some snack breaks
  • Learn about how someone on your trip is different than you
  • Eat lunch!
  • Do something really cool
  • Snack some more
  • Learn something new about Harvard
  • Realize you have something in common with someone else on your trip
  • Challenge yourself

Before the sun gets too low:

  • Get into camp
  • Set up tarps
  • Find a spot for the bear bag
  • Purify water
  • Enjoy a delicious dinner!

After the sun sets:

  • Reflect on the day
  • Clean up camp
  • Get ready for bed
  • Have a great conversation with the group
  • Sleep well and get ready to do it again!

What We Eat 

The following menu will give you a good idea of what food to expect on FOP trips. FOP runs kosher trips, and in the past we have also arranged trips for people who are vegan and people who have specific food allergies (or all of the above!) If you have any dietary restrictions, please contact us so that we can discuss in detail how we can accommodate your needs.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Day 1 Bagels and cream cheese Pita bread, peanut butter, and jelly Spaghetti, tomato sauce, onion, peppers, and garlic
Day 2 Milk and cereal Pita bread, hummus, cheese, and salami Curried rice with peanuts, raisins, and carrots
Day 3 Oatmeal, brown sugar, and hot cocoa Pita bread, peanut butter, and jelly Quesadillas with beans and rice
Day 4 Milk and cereal Tortilla, hummus, cheese, and salami Gado Gado (penne, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and peanut butter)
Day 5 Milk and cereal Tortilla, peanut butter, and jelly Mac & Cheese
Day 6 Oatmeal, brown sugar, and hot cocoa Tortilla, hummus, and cheese (Dinner with all FOP trips at Harvard)

FOP trips also go out with a bunch of extra goodies and snacks including (but not limited to): Oreos, apples, oranges, granola bars, ramen noodles, tea, and GORP (a mix of peanuts, raisins, pretzels, dried apricots, dried pineapple, and chocolate chips).

Personal Hygiene

One aspect of life in the woods that is very different from front-country living is the lack of bathrooms and showers. Spending five 5 days in the wilderness includes learning how to keep clean when there aren't showers and going to the bathroom in the woods. But don't worry, FOP is the first time most participants have been in the woods, so your leaders will explain everything you need to know to be comfortable. It is, however, important to be prepared to deal with certain situations (like having your period in the woods, dealing with contacts, and brushing your teeth) before you leave on your trip.

Eye Care

Wearing contact lenses on FOP may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. You will not have access to running water on FOP, but FOP does carry biodegradable soap. You may also bring a small bottle of instant hand sanitizer with you on the trip. In this way you will be able to clean your hands for removing and putting your contacts in. Also, make sure to bring an extra pair of contacts and/or glasses as well as plenty of solution for cleaning your contact lenses.

Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is the least daunting part of keeping clean in the backcountry. While you won't have running water, you can still brush your teeth. You should still bring a toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste; your leaders will teach you how to spray the water you rinse your mouth with to most reduce the impact on the environment. Also, if you are used to using mouthwash of any sort, you shouldn't bring it with you as you wouldn't have anywhere to spit it out.

Scented Hygiene Products

We strongly recommend that you do not bring deodorant, soap, or scented body lotion with you. There are several reasons for this. Animals such as chipmunks, mice and black bears are attracted to the same delicious odors that you enjoy, and if they smell something good, they will bite through your pack in search of something to eat. FOP provides biodegradable soap, which helps keep us clean and has less impact on the environment than commercial soaps made with perfumes and phosphates. Also, wearing deodorant when you are hiking every day and not showering is not good for you because it traps sweat and the toxins it excretes under the surface of your skin. When this happens for days on end (say five), it can cause rashes or infections.

Feminine Hygiene

Dealing with your period in the woods may sound like a bummer, but it doesn't have to be. Even if you are not expecting to get your period during the trip, bring adequate supplies anyway. The change in diet, the strenuous exercise, and spending a lot of time with other women can all affect your cycle. This is even true if you are on the pill. Your leaders will not have extra supplies, nor will you have access to a store, so come equipped! Here are a few suggestions for making yourself as comfortable and prepared as possible.

To create a “Backcountry Period Kit,” collect the following items:

  • 1 small, dark colored, opaque bag or stuff sack
  • 3 small Ziplock bags
  • 1 travel pack of baby wipes (for cleaning purposes)
  • A generous supply of tampons (tampons are much easier to deal with than pads, but if you have to use pads, go ahead). Tampons without an applicator (like OB) are ideal because they produce the least waste and take up the least space in your pack.

Then follow these steps:

  1. Take the tampons (or pads) out of the box and put them all into one Ziplock bag to protect them from the rain.
  2. Put the travel pack of baby wipes inside a second Ziplock bag to ensure they stay moist.
  3. Keep the third Ziplock bag empty to use as a mini-garbage for used supplies. All dirty baby wipes, used tampons, and tampon wrappers should go into the garbage Ziplock. If you are concerned about odor, you can put a used tea bag in the garbage Ziplock.
  4. Put all three bags inside the opaque bag. Voila, you have a self-contained period kit! On the trail, you should keep this in an accessible part of your pack.

Another consideration for female FOPpers is whether or not to bring a “pee rag.” Since we do not use toilet paper on FOP, many female FOPpers and leaders choose to bring a bandana (or half a bandana) to use as a pee rag as opposed to “drip drying.” This choice is up to you. If you are well hydrated (as you should be), the pee rag will not have much odor at all.