Gabrielle Bland

Hometown: Raleigh

College & Major: Eckerd College, International Relations/Sociology

Where do you work? I work at Child Protective Services and I am a Conservatorship worker. Basically, I help the parents complete services to get their kids back in their home and I make sure the kids are safe in their temporary placements.

Favorite Outdoor Activity: Backpacking

What do you like to do in your free time? In my free time I like to visit different parks and other destinations around Texas. When it is cold I enjoy going to the gym, but as soon as it get warm I cancel my gym membership and get back to enjoying the many outdoor activities that provide physical activity. These activities include kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, camping, running and hiking. My goal this summer is to visit all of the swimming holes around Austin.

What made you decide to be a mentor? I decided to become a mentor because of my own experiences doing outdoor activities and the impact on my life. In middle school I joined the Girl Scouts and had an awesome troop leader that took us on fantastic trips. I would consider her a mentor. We went to a Boy Scout camp in Ontario, Canada for two weeks one summer and canoed all week. I also went rock climbing, white water rafting and caving throughout my time in the Girl Scouts. Despite these great activities, I never felt a connection to the troop. I felt like an outsider as a minority, and I could not keep up with the price of some of the trips. I was not an expert saleswoman selling Girl Scouts cookies and I did not like trying to be one. My parents did not have the money to send me on the trips so I quit after two years. In that time my interest in experiencing the outdoors had been sparked for sure. The combination of money and feeling like an outsider led me to quitting something that I really loved and could have had a greater impact on my youth. Sophomore year in college I became a camp counselor and led canoeing and backpacking trips for 3 summers. Now I am excited to be a part of the experience that the mentees are going to have. I hope to see them grow, branch out, learn new skills, meet new people and hopefully develop or continue their love for the outdoors. It has a special place in my heart. I often wonder why I would put myself in some of the challenging situations I have experienced as a trip leader and why the kids I lead choose to put themselves their as well. I am excited to see the mentees discover their own reasons for it.