| Aggie Culture: Fish Camp |
Fish camp is a four-day extended orientation program designed to both offer a smooth transition for incoming freshmen and build a support system for their college experience at Texas A&M. Fish Camp focuses on teaching traditions, building the Aggie family and spirit, and forming bonds through an unconditionally accepting environment. Fish Camp serves over 6,000 freshmen each year. A camp consists of counselors headed by two chairpersons. Each camp has an average of 150 freshmen and is associated with a name, theme, and color. The name represents someone who has had an impact on the University.
The counselors choose the theme, and the camp room is decorated in this theme each year. There are seven colors, one of which is assigned to each camp. These colors are red, blue, yellow, green, aqua, lime, and purple. Counselors themselves have mini traditions within fish camp such as dying hair, piercings, tattoos, and being as crazy as possible. The freshmen will experience a discussion group (or DG) which consists of two counselors and around 10-15 freshmen. At camp, these groups bond through games and icebreakers. It is these small groups that continue the growing experience throughout the freshmen year and beyond. Counselors will put on skits and be very outgoing personalities in the hope that freshmen will grow out of their shells and be themselves. My experience with Fish Camp was terrific; I went in as a freshman, not knowing what to expect but completely blown away at how amazing A&M truly is. I was an incoming freshman walking into Reed Arena’s parking lot and seeing all the enthusiastic camp counselors leaving me confused, yet intrigued on how the next four days will be. I saw a bunch of people in their respective groups of different colors each as if the parking lot was a paint pallet. Suddenly, two energetic counselors jump in front of me, asking what my name is and guided me to my camp. All this was still unusual to me, and I didn’t know what I got myself into. We loaded on the bus, and the counselors gave us a game to play to break the ice and release the awkward tension between one another. Each day involved new activities, we learn Aggie core values and develop lasting friendships. This creates a unity, a family. Sharing personal struggles with your camp and hearing stories from people with different backgrounds changes your outlook on life. Having a sense of family made me value my Fish Camp. As an incoming freshman transitioning into this overwhelming phase in their life, finding a group that joins you on the same journey is valuable. I fell in love with Fish Camp and applied to be a counselor, one of my beloved memories at A&M. Once I got accepted, over the many months, I found a family within Fish Camp. Although the camp is only four days long, all the counselors and chairs of each camp grow immensely close with each other. Our namesakes opened their hearts to us and showed immense love. Fish Camp is open and accepting, as our diverse group of counselors went on road trips, stressed during work weekends, and waited the long anxious wait for camp I experienced genuine aggie values. During camp, we were crazy all the counselors showed up with red hair, tattoos, and piercings. We met our freshmen and immediately went out to form the bonds. Over the four days, the quietest freshman opened up, and the shyest freshman found a family. I saw all the impacts we had on the Freshmen, all the emotions within our camp let loose, and we created a family that will help them transition into college. Fish Camp gave me a family, allowed me to be myself with no fear of rejection, and showed me pure Aggie values. “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”
Post by Avinab Sanjel (Public Affairs Officer, NSA)