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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Preparing for freshmen’s first tradition

Students+and+counselors+at+Fish+Camp.+Months+of+preparation+takes+place+before+freshmen+Aggies+encounter+their+first+A%26amp%3BM+tradition.
via fishcamp.tamu.edu

Students and counselors at Fish Camp. Months of preparation takes place before freshmen Aggies encounter their first A&M tradition.

With a total of 1,152 counselors and 100 chairs overlooking eight different sessions, staff members have been preparing months in advance for Fish Camp, located at the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in Palestine, Texas.
Fish Camp strives to welcome freshmen into the Aggie family by sharing the traditions and values of Texas A&M while building long-term relationships with other freshmen and counselors that embody the Aggie spirit.
Session F Lime Camp Chisolm Chair Katherine Bromme and co-chair Corinne McDuff are in charge of looking over their camp’s counselors and freshmen. McDuff said Fish Camp brings the Aggie community together, and said she has gotten close to her camps in the past.

“My favorite part is right before going to camp and looking back, [thinking] a couple of months ago we were strangers in a room to now seeing the development within yourself and the group overall,” McDuff said.
Camps divide freshmen into small discussion groups, or DGs, each led by two counselors who have spent the spring and summer in work weekends, summer retreats and development programs preparing to guide their freshmen. 
“From the moment we got our camps, we’ve been doing 2-hours-a-week meetings,” Bromme said. “Learning about the process of being chairs, how Fish Camp works, with additional training on the side such as Green Dot [bystander intervention training] and CPR certifications.”

With the process beginning at the start of the spring semester, chairs and the directorial staff of Fish Camp have an in-depth selection process for counselors, all accomplished anonymously. After the chairs have been educated enough on Fish Camp, it’s time to prepare the counselors for the freshmen.

“We work really hard to prepare to be chairs before we got our counselors, and now we continue to work hard to both develop ourselves as chairs, and to develop our counselors for the freshmen,” Bromme said.

Bromme stressed the importance of the counselors knowing every tradition and resource at A&M, so when freshmen arrive at Fish Camp, counselors are more than prepared to pass on the knowledge.

“All the mandatory events lead toward leadership development, and the non-mandatory events lead towards bonding within the counselors,” Bromme said. “Work Weekends, Summer Retreats and other mandatory events are the work. That’s when the counselors prepare the skits, the DG templates, paint banners and learn safety precautions.”

Computer science sophomore and first-year Fish Camp counselor Kiran Vengurlekar said he still keeps in contact with counselors from his camp.

“The goal of Fish Camp is for incoming freshmen to feel comfortable with A&M before they even start the school year,” Vengurlekar said. “That way they will have no problem embracing the A&M campus and traditions.” 
Fish camp attendees are grouped randomly into DGs. These groups vary between six to 15 freshmen, led by two counselors.

“If one of the freshmen needs someone to talk to that their DG counselor doesn’t directly relate to, counselors know everyone in their camp well enough that they know exactly which person to guide them to,” Bromme said.

With a total of 48 different camps, all among different sessions and different counselors, each and every Fish Camp staff member is dedicating tremendous hours toward the arrival of the first-year students, Bromme said.

“Fish Camp made me realize that every single person needs a support system, no matter how independent they are,” Bromme said. “Fish Camp has given me that support system, and now it’s time for others.”

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