Ascent Pre-Orientation Program

Ease the college transition, build skills, make friends

Ascent is for incoming students interested in learning skills and connecting with peers in a novel and dynamic environment. Experiences are led by trained student facilitators, and students often end the experience feeling capable, connected and more prepared to begin their time at Gettysburg.

Ascent Experiences

Blue tent outdoors in a wooded area

The purpose of the Ascent Outdoor Pre-Orientation is to make the transition to college easier. Students build friendships, leadership skills, and self awareness by living and working together in novel and dynamic environments. Ascent experiences are led by trained student facilitators, giving first year students insight into Gettysburg life from current students.

Trips are designed for all levels of experience and ability, and take place either in the local region or in state and national forests near Gettysburg.

Ascent 2023 Options

The backpacking Ascent experience is a 4-night, 5-day experience where students carry everything they need with them in 50-70 liter backpacks. The group will move to a new campsite location each day, and these sites have limited amenities. Participants on this trip can expect to walk an average of 5 miles per day over terrain that could be rocky and muddy. No prior experience with the activity is required to participate.

The campus-based Ascent experience is a 4-night, 5-day experience where students will experience day trips departing from campus and sleep in their assigned residence hall room at night. The experience will focus on building connections within the group, and connecting participants to the local (within 2 hour) area through a variety of activities. No prior experience is required to participate.

For any additional questions related to these Ascent options, please email


Ascent 2023 Trip Fee: $450.00

Financial Assistance is available. Please apply.

Where is Ascent?

The backpacking trip will take place within 3 hours of Gettysburg, PA. We are fortunate to have locations such as Shenandoah National Park (~2 hours away) and Michaux State Forest (~30-45 minutes away) within our local region. These areas offer great outdoor recreation opportunities.

The campus-based trip will include time in Gettysburg and in the local region.

When is Ascent?
Ascent will be August 17-22, 2023. We will conclude before the College's full orientation begins.
Can I move in prior to Ascent?
Yes! Folks participating in a variety of the College’s pre-orientation programming move in early. You will be able to move-in the morning of August 17th prior to our welcome lunch. We will send more information about this soon as we are working with campus partners in the process.
How much does Ascent cost?

Ascent will cost $450. We have financial assistance available, and encourage you to reach out to Anna ( if you need financial assistance.

What does that cost include?
The cost includes food, transportation, group gear, and knowledge provided by our trained student facilitators. We ask that students bring personal clothing and toiletries; the Ascent program can provide activity specific items such as backpacking backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, stoves/cooksets. More details regarding pack lists are available upon request.
How does COVID impact Ascent?
Great question - we are excited to be planning to offer a field-based Ascent for 2023. Due to covid, there is a degree of uncertainty and there may still be some restrictions in place. We will be following CDC guidelines, as well as Gettysburg College guidelines. This may include wearing a mask indoors. On the backpacking trip, we may use tarp shelters to avoid prolonged air exchange that comes with sharing a tent. Again, we will be providing updates as we get more information regarding the state of the covid-19 pandemic.
This sounds awesome, how do I register?