Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Camp 1831, new freshman orientation program, set for August

Camp 1831, new freshman orientation program, set for August

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 7.55.40 AMThis August, the University will host its inaugural Camp 1831, an initative for incoming students meant to complement the procedure-focused Bama Bound experience with a relationship-building three-day program at Camp McDowell.

The University hopes this extended orientation will help new students transition to a college experience and remain on campus.

Sara Hartley, director of First Year Experience, said Camp 1831 is the result of several conversations, starting with people from various departments across campus that started in August of 2011.

“Specific planning began a few months later, so we have been planning for over a year now for this pilot program,” Hartley said. “There is an advisory committee that is assisting with the overall concept of the camp in this initial year, which includes students and staff from various areas across campus.”

Litsa Orban, assistant director of First Year Experience, agreed that Camp 1831 was truly a collaborative effort.

“I think this is representative of the experience students will have when they participate in camp – a campus-wide connection,” Orban said. “We are aiming to focus on what it means to be a well-rounded member of the Capstone.”

A part of the planning process for this new initiative began by researching the similar programs other peer universities had in place for their students.

“The camp is not modeled after any specific institution, but we did benchmark research on Texas A&M, University of Tennessee, University of Georgia, Florida International University, Virginia Tech and University of Arkansas,” she said.

Hartley explained that staff members from their office attended camps at UT and UGA last summer to get ideas and talk with staff members who did the planning at these institutions.

“These camps are known as extended orientation programs across the nation and are a common practice for increasing retention and assisting first-year students with their transition to campus,” Hartley said.

Orban said her current primary focus has been recruiting the A-team, a group of 24 upperclassmen who will help run Camp 1831 and play a primary role in helping these new students feel connected to campus.

Camp 1831 will hold two sessions. The first session is scheduled for August 6-8, and the final session will be held the 12-14, each hosting approximately 150 students each.

Hartley said the camp will cost $140 per student, which covers fees such as lodging, meals, transportation from campus to Camp McDowell and some gear.

The campsite, just under two hours north of Tuscaloosa, is honored to be chosen by the University to partner with Camp 1831, executive director Mark Johnston said.

“We’re a relationship place,” Johnston said. “A lot of camps put their emphasis on activities, and we do all of those things, but our emphasis here is on people getting to know each other.”

For this reason, staff members from Camp McDowell will be leading the students in team-building exercises, he said.

Shelby Wilson, a freshman majoring in biology, said she thinks the setting of Camp 1831 will be more comfortable, making it easier for new students to meet people compared to Bama Bound.

“Seeing as it is the first year of the program, three hundred is a good amount of students, but as the years go on, the number should continue to grow to reach as many new students as possible.”

As far as making plans for the future, Orban said her office hopes Camp 1831 can grow to become a part of the overall University of Alabama tradition.

“The University of Alabama is contagious, and I think Camp 1831 is another venue where first-year students will feel the UA energy,” she said. “I am confident this will become a tradition for new students to be a part of, and me and my team welcome the idea of more sessions and a larger participant number.”

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