Reported Fish Camp Pictures at Bonfire Memorial Draw Questions

By: Clay Falls and Steve Fullhart Email
By: Clay Falls and Steve Fullhart Email
More Video...

*10 P.M. Update*

Several photos have surfaced of Texas A&M Fish Camp Counselors in suggestive poses at the university's Bonfire Memorial.

The photos first appeared on TexAgs.com and the reaction from some has been of outrage and disappointment.

It's tradition for counselors to take photos prior to the start of fish camp, an orientation camp for new students.

Where they took them though is what's angering many.

The Bonfire Memorial was built in honor of the 12 students who died in the 1999 collapse.

It's where thousands come to reflect on the tragedy and remember those killed.

News 3 took a look at why so many people are now ticked off.

While people are expressing outrage and disgust online, in person the people we spoke with are offering a little bit more forgiveness saying they think the actions of these students was a huge mistake and that an apology should be enough.

And this is what's causing the controversy.

Fish Camp Counselors are seen standing in the Bonfire Memorial portals.

Some in provocative or racy poses, others grinning and posing like college kids.

Several students spoke with us off camera saying they think this is just a bad decision.

Other comments we've been getting online haven't been as forgiving.

But the consensus seems to be it was an inappropriate location to take them.

"Well it does look like it's something shouldn't be done," said Samarpita Roy, a Texas A&M Graduate Student.

"Yeah I think it's like a mistake," said Lars Mitchell, a Texas A&M Student.

"I think it was kids making a stupid mistake. Yeah I mean you know. I don't think they were trying to be disrespectful," said Tammy Griffiths, of Bryan.

"I mean if they've issued an apology I would tend to say well great what you did was stupid. Don't do anything like that again and move on," said Chris Faucette, a Texas A&M Former Student.

And an apology is just what they issued Thursday night.

The Head Director of Fish Camp declined an interview request but has issued a statement which read in part,

"I apologize from the bottom of my heart for the unfortunate and inappropriate photographs that circulated briefly on social media.
While the actions portrayed in these photographs do not reflect the Aggie Core Values or the Fish Camp values, I know these students, and I know there was no ill-intent or disrespect intended..."

The director goes on to say that he plans to use this moment as an opportunity for education.

We don't know the ages or identities of the students involved but have confirmed these are counselors whose job it is to teach incoming students the traditions of the university.

We also have that full apology linked online with this story below.

*Previous Story*

Pictures posted on a popular message board and on social media have drawn the ire of many Aggies.

The photographs, which appeared on the TexAgs website late Thursday morning, are believed to show Fish Camp 2013 counselors or members posing at the Bonfire Memorial, many in pairs standing inside the portals striking goofy or suggestive poses.

The memorial is at the site of the 1999 collapse of Bonfire, which left 12 Aggies dead and 27 injured. Each portal is dedicated to the memory of one of the fallen Aggies and features an engraved portrait and words from and about the victim.

Fish Camp counselors generally take pictures together prior to that year's sessions. The tradition takes participating incoming freshmen, who are nicknamed fish, to a site near Palestine for a number of days. The students are taught Aggie traditions and get the chance to meet other new students before the fall semester begins.

It is unclear who took the pictures.

In a statement posted on the Fish Camp website, Head Director Max Cadena calls the photos "unfortunate and inappropriate," and said the students who took the pictures "are devastated by the hurt that this has caused to the families and friends of those fallen Aggies and all other members of the Aggie family."

A thread on TexAgs posted ten minutes before noon Thursday had nearly 700 posts at 6:00 p.m. the same day.

The original poster, whose screen name is "Fish-N-Chips," wrote, "Fish camp is taking their pictures at the bonfire memorial and disgracing it! This infuriates me!!!"

A user named "Rhaggie16" posted, "I am a fish camp counselor this year, and I would just like to say that this shocks me. It's really unfortunate that none of them had the sense of judgement to see that this is so inappropriate. Don't let this reflect too poorly on the organization as a whole though, because the vast majority of us respect the integrity of each and every one of our traditions."

---

The following statement was posted on the official Fish Camp website:

On behalf of everyone associated with Fish Camp, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for the unfortunate and inappropriate photographs that circulated briefly on social media. While the actions portrayed in these photographs do not reflect the Aggie Core Values or the Fish Camp values, I know these students, and I know there was no ill-intent or disrespect intended to the memories of the 12 Aggies who are memorialized at the site. While I was not present when the photographs were taken, I know the students involved are devastated by the hurt that this has caused to the families and friends of those fallen Aggies and all other members of the Aggie family. We continually strive to improve the education our members and incoming freshmen receive about the rich traditions and history that we hold dear at Texas A&M University. I assure you that my fellow directors and I will take active steps in using this moment as a point of education, not only for those involved in the incident, but for the entire organization. Again, I deeply regret that this incident occurred. I plan to reach out to the families of the 12 fallen Aggies to express my regrets, and I am eager to work with our organization moving forward.

Regards,

Max Cadena ‘13
Head Director | Fish Camp 2013


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