You found it!

The Leader Handbook is designed to be an essential resource throughout your training, both out in the wilderness and back on campus. The contents of this handbook will help you learn how to lead an exciting, fun, well- managed, and, above all, safe FOP trip.

In this handbook, you will find decades' worth of invaluable knowledge that has been passed down through generations of FOP leaders. The handbook is a coalescence of the bright, shiny things that have shaped FOP as we know it. It is a living organism that evolves every year to reflect the new ideas, new insights, and new people that make FOP a truly incredible program.

So please take it seriously!

The handbook is not meant to be an encyclopedia or a sacred text. It does not contain all knowledge, it is not infallible, and it certainly does not anticipate every situation. You may not even agree with everything inside. However, critically engaging with the handbook's material will allow you to begin envisioning the type of trip you want to lead. It will help you realize which ideas excite you and which don't. It will provide frameworks for thinking about your own leadership style. It will ask you to consider how to support others and how you yourself can best be supported.

In addition, the handbook can be a fantastic tool to fall back on. As a trainee and as a leader, situations will arise that you’ve never dealt with. And even challenges that you have planned for may feel totally foreign and utterly insurmountable when they actually occur on the trail. At times like these, never forget that you can consult your handbook. If it feels like you are falling, let the handbook be your parachute.

To quote poet Theodore Roethke, "Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley." When you find yourself standing before a mountain, whether literal or figurative, let the handbook be your guide. Allow it to lead you to a path, because no matter what, there is always a way to the other side.

And if all else fails (even the handbook), never lose faith in yourself and the people around you. There are countless reasons that you were chosen to be a Harvard student and a FOP leader. You are an incredible human being! Trust your judgement and never be afraid to ask for help, whether it is from your fellow trainees, your gaggle leaders, your TT leaders, your co, steering committee, or even your future FOPpers.

Wishing you all the best in your journey,

Chris, Cooper, Hannah, Jackson, Sarah, Sonia, Spencer, and Quigs

FOP Steering Committee 2020

Harvard First-Year Outdoor Program