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Why this York College student says Recreation and Leisure Administration ‘is the coolest major in the world’

April 06, 2016
Chase Colley
Chase Colley, middle, a Class of 2016 Recreation and Leisure Administration major

One might say Chase Colley embodies just about everything a Recreation and Leisure Administration major should.

During a recent trip out west, the York College of Pennsylvania senior learned about living off the land and the science of the wilderness while backpacking through Wyoming, canoeing down rivers in Utah and rock climbing in Idaho.

He wants others to experience similar excursions, specifically people with disabilities. After graduation this spring, he’ll get his chance.

“I’ll be starting an internship with Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in Colorado in May,” Colley says. “I’m going to work on wilderness adaptive sports for people with disabilities, but my main goal is to do wilderness therapy for the intellectually disabled.”

And he credits his experience and education at York College for putting him on the right path.

“I think my major is the coolest major in the world,” Colley says. “It’s really small, but you can do so much with it.”

Pinning down a school

Colley, a native of Richmond, Virginia, was active well before he got to college.

Hospitality, Recreation and Leisure Administration and Sport Management degrees at York College ‌He wrestled for Hermitage High School and was a two-time Virginia State National Team member and a Virginia State Qualifier.

When it was time to pursue higher education, one of his wrestling coaches told him about York College.

“I looked at a few other schools, but they were bigger,” Colley says. “I decided a smaller school was better for me academically.”

After visiting the York College campus, he liked what he saw and decided to enroll. 

Beginning his journey

Not long after, he chose a career path.

“After my first semester, I knew I wanted to major in Therapeutic Recreation and Leisure,” Colley says. “Wilderness therapy is my specialty, helping people with disabilities have fun in the wilderness, go climbing, hiking, and whitewater rafting.”

In his first year at York College, both an academic advisor and the college’s rock wall supervisor suggested Colley look into the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a program that offered a semester of college credits while exploring the outdoors.

While the organization operates all over the world, the Rocky Mountains appealed most to him.

“First, I backpacked for 10 days, hiking about 40 miles and gained about 5,000 feet in elevation on the Wind River mountain range,” he says.

He then went to a horse farm to get a Wilderness First Responders certification, which means if anyone gets hurt in the backcountry he can help them stay alive until other help arrives.

Next, he drove to Utah and canoed 127 miles on the Green River through Desolation Canyon. After that, he drove to Idaho to the City of Rocks and went rock climbing.

“Then, we went back to Utah and to Canyonland and the Grand Gulch Canyon and hiked in and out of canyons for close to 30 days – about 137 miles of hiking,” he says.

That semester of grueling work led to “lots of PE credits” through the University of Utah, as well as credits for environment and biology. He also earned nursing credits for Wilderness First Responder work.

He says all 19 of those credits transferred over to York College, no problem.

‘A cool environment to be in'

With graduation around the corner, Colley’s resume includes an emphasis in Recreational Therapy, an unforgettable trip out west and four years of wrestling collegiately with the Spartans.

The intimate experience and small class sizes at York College, he says, will set him up to tackle whatever future adventures await him.

“Everyone is here to help you succeed,” Colley says. “That’s a cool environment to be in.”


York College is proud to offer one of the best Recreation and Leisure Administration programs in Pennsylvania. Within our recreation and leisure major, students can choose either a Recreation Management emphasis or a Recreational Therapy emphasis. Where will your degree in Recreation and Leisure Administration take you?