By Hannah Sawyer
This article originally appeared in the Gettysburgian, August 24, 2011
Gettysburg Recreational Activities Board (GRAB) director John Regentin believes that orientation isn't just about getting to know your way around campus, it's about getting to know what's beyond campus as well. With this in mind, Regentin and the GRAB staff piloted a redesigned orientation program last August which would encourage incoming first-years to take advantage of the resources that Adams County has to offer.
GRAB had previously run ropes course and team building activities during orientation week, but last year, Regentin's team took a more hands-on approach by leading hikes in nearby Michaux State Forest as well as belay classes at the Den and evening paddles in local lakes as part of the First Year Experience program. "We want to encourage students to get out and see what's around them," said Regentin.
Based on last year's success, Regentin has added a new option: a GPS program designed to orient students not only to the campus, but also to the town. Eight to ten students are given a GPS with wave points which take them through downtown Gettysburg in an effort to "get new students beyond The Pub" and out into the community. Along the way, first- years will learn a synopsis of the town's history as well as how it relates to the college.
While ASCENT programs have always been an integral part of the orientation experience, Regentin said that he designed felt that more needed to be done to build on that experience once students return to campus, and that it was also important to present a more comprehensive picture of the GRAB program to first-years who hadn't taken part in ASCENT. He believes that these programs give first-years a better understanding of all the services that GRAB provides.
"ASCENT is just the beginning of what four years can offer," said Regentin. They are ready to start sign-ups for winter break trips which include snowshoeing and ice climbing in the Adirondacks, backpacking on Cumberland Island in Georgia, and a paddling trip in the Barrier Islands. A full list of May trips has also been finalized which includes a bed and breakfast trekking tour in Ireland, and backpacking trips to Peru and Lake Tahoe.
But one of Regentin's main goals this year is to get students out on their own exploring. "It's been tough getting students to take advantage of their own experience. People usually wait for us to organize stuff," but with the new space "there's going to be a lot more opportunity for people to at least see what's being sponsored."
With a newly redesigned gear room that "looks like an REI", Regentin hopes that students will "take advantage of what they have to offer" throughout the fall. GRAB has a full array of gear, maps, and guide books and charges just a 5$ fee for all equipment rentals. "We've gotten comments from people saying 'Wow, we didn't realize you guys had all of this stuff."
"Whether they do it on their own or through one of the GRAB programs," Regentin wants students to realize that they can experience the outdoors on campus, locally, or even as they "go all over the world."