Bearkat Camp teaches freshmen Kats spirit, pride

“Don’t just be a student, be a Bearkat.”

Call it round one for Sam Houston State — a new tradition has dawned and leaders are needed.

This summer will mark the first Bearkat Camp in Sam Houston State history, designed to give incoming freshmen the environment to make friends, get questions answered and connect with the spirit, pride and tradition of the university.

The “transition camp” is set to be held in two sessions from Aug. 9 – 12 and Aug. 12 – 15 at Forest Glenn, eventually to be held at a newly-created university camp in Riverside.

“We do not have overnight accommodations at our university property yet; it would be a little warm to camp out in August, so we wanted to use a local camp that’s near Huntsville.” Chris Mahlen, Traditions Camp and Outdoor Rec. Sports Coordinator, said. “They have great facilities, air conditioned cabins, good food and we’ll have exclusive use of one side of their camp facility.”

The social-based camp is not the second phase of orientation, but compliments orientation.

“Some people say orientation is 90% information and 10% fun,” Mahlen said. “We are trying to flip-flop that. “Bearkat camp is really a time to have fun, where students can learn traditions.”

Incoming freshmen will be divided into pride group, where they will have their questions answered about life at SHSU, and what to expect. Each day of camp will be divided by theme.

“There will be a day that is focused on spirit, where they will learn some of our spirit and squads will come out and teach some of the cheers, band representatives will come out and teach the Alma Mater, the fight song and then another based on traditions,” Mahlen said. “They will learn some of the traditions of Sam Houston State, like Tripod, and then for pride we’ll have some folks come out and talk about what it takes to be a Bearkat.”

Mahlen said there will also be a “rep team” or larger group that will be the competition groups — some more athletic based, some more intellectual based — which will culminate with relays toward the end of camp.

In addition to counselor positions, current students can serve on the KatCrew behind the scenes. Applications are being accepted for the student director staff as well.

The cost is $115 for incoming freshmen to attend the Bearkat Camp, but those interested in counseling will be compensated for the unique stipend position.

Bearkat Camp was created from the ideas of enrollment management, First-Year Experience, Recreational Sports and through the division of Student Services.

“I’m excited,” Mahlen said. “Personally, I would like to see Sam have more of a reputation as a destination school and help students really connect with the school so they can be truly be proud to be a Bearkat. One of the things I’ve been by-lining is, don’t just go to school, be a Bearkat, help [the incoming students] connect to the spirit, pride and tradition that has been growing here at Sam since 1879.”

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