COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M University has a host of outstanding programs to help new students begin their academic careers successfully, but the one that most makes them a part of the Aggie Family — and the first tradition that new students experience — is Fish Camp.
Texas A&M University
Friday, July 22, 2011
Texas A&M’s unique orientation program for freshmen — who are called “fish” in Aggieland — is a series of four-day camps during which the new Aggies spend time with upperclassmen who have volunteered as camp counselors. The vast majority of the incoming freshman class of about 8,000 students will attend one of this year’s seven sessions of Fish Camp.
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 2015 will gather Aug. 1 outside Reed Arena where they will be welcomed to Aggieland. They will then board buses to travel to an East Texas Piney Woods encampment near Palestine.
During their time at camp, the new students will learn about Aggie traditions and the university’s core values: integrity, excellence, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. They will also 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.
More than 1,000 counselors, crew and staff members have been working since last October to create a special experience for the members of the Class of 2015.
The counselors and planners for Fish Camp say they believe it is their responsibility, as well as an honor and a privilege, to aid freshmen in that important transition from high school to Texas A&M. In addition to welcoming the new freshmen, they work to create a support system that allows them 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. 19 and end Aug. 22, the week before fall semester classes begin on Aug. 29.
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 the students and chosen by a committee of students, so it is considered an honor to be selected as a Fish Camp namesake.
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin is a camp namesake this year and will spend nearly a week with the new students attending the camp named in his honor.
For a list of individuals honored by having their names associated with a camp, go to http://fishcamp.tamu.edu/namesakes.
For more information, contact the Fish Camp office at (979) 845-1627 or go to http://fishcamp.tamu.edu/.
To follow Fish Camp on Facebook, go to: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=225844584121417.
Dates for Fish Camp 2011 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.