COLLEGE STATION – Fish Camp, the unique program offered by Texas A&M University to provide its incoming freshmen a running start on college life and the opportunity to quickly learn Aggie traditions, begins Tuesday (July 30) with the first of a series of four-day excursions to an encampment in the piney woods of East Texas.
Approximately 6,000 Aggie freshmen-to-be, which would be a record, have signed up to participate in one of the seven sessions to be conducted near Palestine, notes Abby Howell, Fish Camp adviser.
Fish Camp organizers say the new students arrive at camp unsure of what to expect or what will be expected of them, but by the time they leave, they are the newest members of the Aggie family.
“I loved Fish Camp. It was probably the best way to come into the Aggie Family. I really felt as if I was meant to be here,” said one of last year’s freshmen.
“It was honestly one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life, the perfect way to begin my new life at Texas A&M,” said another.
Members of the first Fish Camp session for the Class of 2017 will gather at 8 a.m. Tuesday outside Reed Arena where they will check in and be welcomed to Aggieland. They will then board buses at approximately 9:30 a.m. to travel to Lakeview Methodist Conference Center near Palestine.
In addition to Aggie traditions, during their time at camp the new students will also learn about the university’s core values: integrity, excellence, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. They will learn about the university’s 800 student organizations and how to join them, how to find the help they may need while on campus and much more. By the time they leave the camp, many of the students will have formed lasting friendships.
Counselors, crew and staff members have been working since last October to create a special experience for the members of the Class of 2017.
“There will be 24 counselors and two co-chairs for each camp and there are six camps to each of the seven sessions,” Howell explains.
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.
The last Fish Camp sessions will begin Aug. 17 and end Aug. 20, the week before fall semester classes begin on Aug. 26.
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.
Fish Camp began in 1954 when the late Gordon Gay, a former student activities 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.
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. Each evening, special guests are brought in as motivational speakers for "campfire" programs.
Each session has six individual “camps,” and each camp has a namesake. These namesakes are individuals nominated by Texas A&M students, faculty, staff and friends of Fish Camp. They are chosen by a committee of students, so it is considered an honor to be selected as a Fish Camp namesake because these individuals can become part of the incoming and current student leaders’ campus resource network.
For a list of individuals honored by having their names associated with a camp, go to http://fishcamp.tamu.edu/files/Namesake_Page%5B1%5D.pdf .
For more information, contact the Fish Camp office at (979) 845-1627 or go to http://fishcamp.tamu.edu/.
Dates for Fish Camp 2013 are: Session A, July 30-Aug. 2; Session B, Aug. 2-5; Session C, Aug. 5-8; Session D, Aug. 8-11, Session E, Aug. 11-14; Session F, Aug. 14-17; and Session G, Aug. 17-20.