New cub camp prepares students
The office of Undergraduate Students recently introduced an extended version of their orientation program, Cub Camp, to help incoming freshmen transition to college campus life.
“In September 2013, the Student Government Association passed legislation (UB50002) calling for the creation of an extended orientation program at the University of Houston,” Program Coordinator of Retention and Graduation Initiatives Sara Khalifa said.
This summer, 200 students out of their initial 250 goal were taken to Trinity, Texas for a three-day and two-night camp-style retreat. Many students did not know what to expect but at camp they gained new friends, information about resources on campus and were taught campus traditions.
“My first few thoughts regarding Cub Camp was that it would be nothing but us sitting around a campfire singing songs in an effort to make friends,” philosophy freshman Mayra Castillo said. “However, it proved to be more than that with the various fun activities and faux campfire.”
New Student Orientation and Cup Camp are both programs that are offered to incoming freshman and both prepare the students for the transition into college.
“New Student Orientation prepares students for their academic transition through intentional advising sessions and class registration,” Khalifa said. “Cub Camp builds on the foundation established at NSO, focusing on the relational aspects of a new student’s transition to UH by developing a sense of community and belonging, providing an emphasis on spirit, traditions and the Cougar Pride, introducing the idea that when you come to college you are joining a community that is larger than one person.”
The Cub Camp staff is already hard at work making preparations for next year’s camp.
“Right now we are collecting data from participants via an online survey to get feedback on how Cub Camp can improve and where students felt camp was the most impactful,” Khalifa said. “We will utilize that data to make necessary changes as well as feedback from our student staff. We are selecting our leadership team directors and working on training and recruitment for the rest of our team.”
Certain goals for the camp were achieved, such as students gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of UH traditions and increasing their awareness of campus resources. The staff will be setting higher goals for next year’s camp.
“Our goals next year are to improve in the areas that we have identified as areas of growth,” Khalifa said. “We would also like to focus on increasing student participation at camp.”
Many students who attended this summer’s camp said they would recommend the incoming freshman to participate as well.
“To the incoming Cougar freshman, you have to go to Cub Camp,” freshman Shubham Sawant said. “It’s definitely an experience you won’t forget. And you will be much more comfortable and much more excited about being a proud student (at) UH.”
Surveys about the camp show the positive experience many students feel about transiting to UH.
“According to the pre and post surveys conducted for camp, students who attend camp had an increase in overall pride in being a UH Cougar, made a positive transition, and felt a greater sense of belonging,” Khalifa said.
The success of Cub Camp has made it possible for students to feel less anxious and instead enjoy their new transition from high school to college.
“I realized that Cub Camp is probably the best way to transition to college,” Sawant said. “I got to meet new people and get to experience what the college life was going to be like. Also, with the help of the mentors, I got to learn so much about what being a Cougar really means.”