COLLEGE STATION - Two milestones will mark Texas A&M University’s Fish Camp for 2014 – this is the 60th anniversary for the institution’s unique orientation program and it will be attended by a record 6,500 Aggie freshmen.
Freshmen at Texas A&M are called “fish” and those who attend Fish Camp get a running start on college life and the opportunity to quickly learn Aggie traditions, make life-long friends and have lots of fun doing it. In addition to the record number of fish attending one of the four-day sessions this year, more than 1,200 Aggie upperclassmen — men and women — will be on hand to make the experience memorable for the new students. Underscoring their sense of giving back to their university, they will pay their own camp expenses to lend their helping hands by providing leadership and advice based on their Aggie experiences.
“This is the 60th anniversary of the first Freshman Camp. We've grown from just a handful of fish cadets to more than 8,000 staff members and freshmen, making Fish Camp the largest and oldest program of its kind in the country,” says Alex Kalin, Fish Camp head director.
The first four-day session of Fish Camp, called “a freshman’s first tradition,” is scheduled to start Aug. 1 and the last session will begin Aug. 19.
There are a total of seven camp sessions and each session has seven individual camps. These camps are each designated by a color and a namesake. Namesakes are individuals nominated by Texas A&M students, faculty, staff and friends of Fish Camp. It is considered an honor to be selected as a Fish Camp namesake. A list of namesakes for 2014 can be found at http://fishcamp.tamu.edu/namesakes.
“When we were given the projected numbers for the Class of 2018 in the fall, we knew that we would have to increase our capacity to meet the growing demand, so Fish Camp added a new camp color – lime – for the first time in nearly 20 years,” notes Kalin.
Fish Camp organizers say the new students arrive for camp – conducted at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center near Palestine – unsure of what to expect or what will be expected of them, but by the time they leave four days later, they are the newest members of the Aggie family.
In addition to Aggie traditions, the new students will learn about the university’s core values: integrity, excellence, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. They also will learn about the university’s 1,000 student organizations and how to join them, how to find the help they may need while on campus and much more.
Counselors, crew and staff members have been working since last October to create a special experience for the members of the Class of 2018.
In addition to welcoming the new freshmen, the student leaders and counselors work to create a support system that allows the new Aggies to build relationships and share in the Aggie Spirit. The Fish Camp staff and counselors say they are aware that they are role models, as well as leaders for the freshmen class and, as such, it is important to act with utmost integrity and to set an example.
“We still have the same goal that we’ve always had: to ensure our freshmen have a successful transition to college and to keep Texas A&M’s traditions and values alive for years to come,” Kalin states.
The days at camp are filled with information sessions and fun. They also include team-building exercises such as intramural sports and small group discussions.
Fish Camp began in 1954 when the late Gordon Gay, a former YMCA director, took a few students camping as a way to help them adjust to life at college. The program has evolved over time, and the result is the record number of participants this year.
Fish Camp is still unique, even though other schools across the country have discovered the value of such a positive program and have begun somewhat similar programs in recent years, university officials note.
Comments from last year’s Fish Camp attendees are available at: http://fishcamp.tamu.edu/node/13.
For more information, contact the Fish Camp office at (979) 845-1627 or go to http://fishcamp.tamu.edu/.
Dates for Fish Camp 2014 are: Session A, Aug. 1-4; Session B, Aug. 4-7; Session C, Aug. 7-10; Session D, Aug. 10-13; Session E, Aug. 13-16; Session F, Aug. 16-19; and Session G, Aug. 19-22.
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