GOPOPS - Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need outdoor experience?
Prior outdoor experience is not necessary to attend a Georgetown Outdoor Pre-Orientation Program (GOPOP) course. The best way to prepare yourself for your course is to get in shape and commit yourself to giving your best effort. Bring a sense of adventure, a desire to learn wilderness skills, a spirit of cooperation, and a willingness to exert yourself.
2. What level of physical conditioning is necessary? Do I need to be an athlete to participate?
The courses can be very demanding, but they are not beyond the reach of anyone in average physical condition. We recommend beginning an exercise program today. Aerobic exercise, such as running, hiking or cycling, is ideal; walking for least 30 minutes a day is a good start.Try building up your endurance gradually. Alternate your endurance training with light weight-training for your arm, leg, back, shoulder, chest and abdominal muscles. Carrying a loaded backpack on your walks will help your shoulders get into shape. Be sure to do plenty of stretching. Most of all, get out and enjoy yourself! Even a few weeks of regular exercise will more than pay off once your course begins.
3. When should I buy my plane ticket to my GOPOP destination?
Participants are responsible for the purchase of transportation to GOPOP destination on scheduled trip arrival date and from GOPOP destination on scheduled trip departure date. Trips are not guaranteed until at least 4 participants have been confirmed for the trip. Participants will receive email confirmation of the minimum number of participants from email@example.com. If participant wishes to purchase a flight or other transportation prior to confirmation of the number of participants, he/she should purchase a refundable ticket.
4. What do I need to bring?
Georgetown Outdoor Education will provide food, ropes, technical equipment, tents/tarps, rain gear, cooking gear, fuel, utensils, helmets, first-aid equipment and other community gear. Participants are expected to provide sleeping bags, pads, packs, clothing and other personal items listed on the Gear List. These include many things that you may already own (long underwear, fleece jacket, flashlight, etc.) and others that are easily obtained in outdoor retail stores or army/navy surplus outlets. If you are unable to obtain these items or have questions on where to purchase/rent these items, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. What if I don't have a pack/sleeping pad/ sleeping bag?
We understand that not everyone will be able purchase these items for the trip. These items can often be rented from your local outdoors store or borrowed from a friend. That said, OE does have enough gear to support participants who are unable to obtain these, and other items. Just give us a call or shoot us an email and we'd be happy to help you out!
6. Who are my Instructors?
Georgetown Outdoor Education instructors are women and men of extraordinary talents. Your instructors are Georgetown students that serve as teachers, guides, coaches, and friends. All instructors have completed a semester-long course of expansive training and learning. Outdoor Education Instructors lead a variety of trips throughout the school year open to anyone affiliated with Georgetown University. New students are welcome to apply to be a GOAT instructor at the start of the school year.
7. Is this program dangerous?
Instructors undergo regular training in the latest instructional, safety and rescue practices and in improving their assessment of backcountry conditions. They also have either Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Advanced First Aid, Wilderness First Responder or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification, training that prepares them for an appropriate field response to a wide variety of medical incidents.
The process of helping students meet challenges, take calculated risks, and develop confidence is integral to GOPOP, and managing that risk carefully and effectively is a hallmark of the excellence both Georgetown Outdoor Education and Outward Bound pursue. Student safety is our number one priority. And, be assured, risks in the programs are more perceived than real.
8. What is a solo?
A solo is a structured break from the intense social and physical aspects of the course. The length of the solo varies from trip to trip. It is not a survival exercise; group members are given all they need to stay comfortable. It is a period for writing, thinking and quiet introspection. Many students find the solo to be the most rewarding element of their course.
9. Where will I be sleeping?
For the majority, if not all, of backpacking course nights you will be sleeping under a tent or under a tarp. GO POP DC will have their dorm rooms with showers!
10. Will there be showers or bathrooms?
Although the possibility for showers or a sponge bath exists, plan on not showering for the duration of your course. After a few days of exercise and no showers, your body odor will become your natural sweet perfume. Your senses will habituate and you will just get used to it. So don't bother packing shampoo, soap or deodorant into the wilderness. It's not going to work for one, and it attracts bugs for another.
Bathrooms will likely be available at the start of your course, but not beyond that. Please note that a portion of your course will be dedicated to addressing hygiene in the backcountry. We'll cover everything from how to rinse off after a long day of hiking, to using the bathroom in the woods. You will be instructed in Leave No Trace toiletry practices that emphasize a low-impact lifestyle. You'll love it!
11. What will we eat?
You will have to forage for nuts and berries. If you are really lucky, you might be able to snare a rabbit.
Just kidding. We actually eat pretty well out in the woods. We've been told that our trail food is better than the cafeteria... We make things like pancakes, avocado burritos, macaroni and cheese with broccoli, and granola cereals.
12. Will there be campfires?
Local land-use permits govern campfire use. If permits afford the possibility, the decision will be made at the instructors’ discretion. Groups will adhere to Leave No Trace principles, which emphasize minimizing the impact of campfires.
13. Will rock climbing be included in the course? If it is, do I have to do it?
Due to terrain conditions and weather, the decision to rock climb cannot be predicted. If it is included, participants can choose to climb or not.
14. Will I get to go swimming?
Your course may include the option for swimming, but since that option will be based on water levels and weather conditions, a hard and fast yes or no cannot be offered. Please notify email@example.com if you are unable to swim.
15. What are the chances of being attacked by a wild animal?
Pretty small. With the exception of some bears, most wild animals are actually completely terrified of you. There are a few basic safety measures you can use to avoid run-ins with curious bears, but mostly they will leave you alone as long as you do the same. Outdoor Education instructors take precautions to prevent encounters with dangerous animals.
16. What happens if I signed up and paid for a GOPOP trip, but can no longer attend?
Please see GOPOP 2011 Refund Policy.
17. What if you didn't answer my question?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!