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The Battalion

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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June 8, 2024

Fish Camp: an open letter to the Class of 2020

Fish+Camp
Photo by Provided
Fish Camp

Fish Camp is a freshman’s first taste of the madness that is Texas A&M.

You spend four days in a tribe led by strangely clad sophomores who tell you what to yell and when to yell it. Everyone is aggressively nice. But through it all, you find a family. Rather, the Aggie Family finds you, and brands you as a lifelong member.

Fish Camp didn’t change my life, but it did give me the next best thing. I met friends and mentors. I learned a little about the campus I would call home for the next four-plus years. And I discovered I was not alone — thousands just like me were excited, scared, nervous and ready-or-not to be in college.

Four years ago I boarded a bus to Fish Camp session B. I had no idea the girl I made small talk with on that ride would hop ponds with me at midnight, help me with calculus homework or — four years later — invite me to her wedding as a lifelong friend. I didn’t know the DG family I was placed in would eat dinner with me when campus felt too large for comfort. And I had no idea I would meet a mentor whose encouragement led me to join my first college organization.

All I knew then was that people in tutus and horrible hairdos had taken it upon themselves to be my strangest best-friends. The rest of Fish Camp was similarly a crazy blend of the absurd and heartfelt, all colored maroon.

It is easy to hype Fish Camp into something that compromises its purpose — to unite each freshman class, not divide it into those who went and those who did not. Some of the greatest Aggies I’ve known, and a number of my closest friends, started freshman year without ever stepping foot in Lakeview. Fish Camp wasn’t the best experience of my four years at A&M. It wasn’t even the best experience of my freshman year. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Fish Camp is an introduction to the Aggie Family. Fish Camp gave me the friends and the confidence to go out and truly make college my own. It made a campus of 50,000 students seem a little smaller, and there were times when that meant the world to my freshman self.

If you are a member of the Aggie Class of 2020, Howdy! I’m sure you’ve heard and read a lot about Fish Camp in the past few months, so thank you for spending a few more minutes with me on the topic. Fish Camp may seem expensive, intimidating or not worth your time. Maybe your parents or high school friends don’t understand why it’s such a big deal, or why it’s called a tradition.

Fish Camp isn’t the most important thing at Texas A&M, and if you can’t go because of other obligations it is completely fine. But if you are able to, I sincerely encourage you to do so. You’ve got four years to make memories and friends to last a lifetime. I promise you, Fish Camp is a great way to start.

 John Rangel is an aerospace engineering senior and special sections editor for the Battalion in the fall. Fish Camp registration is open until June 30. More information can be found at fishcamp.tamu.edu.

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