GRAB sets Seitz on adventurous career

To reach Drew Seitz ’03 at the office, you’ll likely have to travel into the Rocky Mountains, the Canyonlands Region of Southeastern Utah, or Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Seitz is a full-time field instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a not-for-profit educational institution that takes people of all ages on remote wilderness expeditions to learn technical and outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.

“Courses typically last from ten days to a month,” explained Seitz. “Our programs teach students skills in mountaineering, rock climbing, backpacking, and more.”

Seitz, who has long had an interest in the outdoors, noted that he originally chose Gettysburg College because of its Office of Experiential Education and Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board (GRAB).

GRAB was a huge part of my out-of-classroom attention at Gettysburg,” said Seitz. “John Regentin has built an amazing program. I’ve realized now how professional it is.”

John Regentin, assistant dean and director of Experiential Education, was a mentor for Seitz as he approached graduation. He believes that the GRAB philosophy gives its graduates important tools for future success. “Our facilitators learn professionalism,” he said. “The way you interact and care for people when leading them in the field becomes the way you treat people outside of the field.”

Interested in turning his passion for hands-on learning into a career, Seitz applied for a competitive spot in the Instructor Course with NOLS. He has been working with the school ever since, and believes that Gettysburg prepared him for the challenges he faced.

“One of the best things I took away from Gettysburg was the ability to work with all different types of people from different backgrounds,” he recalls. In addition to GRAB, Seitz was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa, a DJ on the radio station, and a member of the hockey team. Through his involvement on campus, he interacted with a diverse group of students and learned how to relate to others. This skill is essential in his work, he says.

“Some students have never even been camping before and are way out of their comfort zone,” said Seitz. “When they are able to relate to me on a personal level, they feel a little more comfortable, even if we’re pushing them.”

Also, Seitz often has to lead expeditions along with instructors he’s never met before. Two to five instructors arrive at a branch of NOLS to prepare the course a few days before the students arrive. Preparation includes pulling gear, looking at maps, analyzing pull maps if climbing, and participating in team building activities. After a trip, instructors debrief and discuss what went well and how they can improve.

“NOLS has given me the incredible opportunity to meet lots of interesting and talented individuals,” said Seitz. “There’s a culture of excellence that personifies a lot of the folks you come in contact with here.”

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Article by Lindsay Preucil ’12, communications and marketing intern

Contact: Sue Baldwin-Way, director of development communications

Posted: Mon, 5 Mar 2012

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