This past year marks the sixth year that Bearkat Camp has been offered to incoming students at Sam Houston State University. Transportation has also been offered every year from Bowers Stadium to the location of the camp.
Assistant Director of Outdoor Recreation Chris Mahlen believes that the camp, now located at University Camp, has definitely enhanced the program. The convenience of transportation is one to be appreciated by those students. However, the process of attaining it is much more complicated.
Sierra Trailways is the charter bus company that was chosen to provide their services to the students attending this past Bearkat Camp. They were named the winners of the bid to the sum of $12,850.
“This is the first time that bus service [Sierra Trailways] has been competitively bid through the procurement office,” SHSU purchaser Dan Fry said.
SHSU is required to accept the lowest bid, as well as taking into account whether or not the bidder meets state requirements. Every year, various companies place bids and only one is chosen according to certain specifications.
The other companies who participated in the bidding were AFC Transportation with a bid of $13,125, Continental Bus Lines with a bid of $15,000, Clark Travel with a bid of $27,500 and Kerrville Bus Company with a bid of $16,523.60.
Some requirements potential bidders must meet include the ability to transport 100 to 150 passengers, access to modern motor coaches with storage space for passenger luggage, air conditioning, non-smoking coaches and drivers who are properly certified and licensed.
There are multiple sessions of the camps, and depending on the amount of attending students per session, two to three buses may be needed. However, the number is subject to change. This past year, there were three session and three buses per session. This included both Bearkat Camp and Transfer Camp students.
According to Mahlen, there has been a steady growth in the number of incoming students who partake in both Bearkat Camp and Transfer Camp.
In order to attend the camp, students must pay a fee of $115 for a four-day, three-night camp. Currently the program consists of the three separate sessions which serve as a way to allow more students to be able to go to camp based on their own schedules.
“Bearkat camp is an extended orientation program for new students and then we have the Transfer Camp which includes transfer students,” Mahlen said. “Transfer camp is in its third season and Bearkat camp is in its sixth season. The first five seasons we rented out a local private camp that was called Forest Glen. In 2014 we were able to move onto our own property in Riverside, and that’s University Camp.”
Discussion of providing this transportation to students began in the first year the program started six years ago. According to Mahlen, the reason behind the program was the University wanting to provide students with a quality experience. In addition, the camps are also an attempt to allow new students’ first impression of SHSU to be one of quality as well.
Mahlen said he believes Bearkat Camp has had a tremendous impact on incoming students. Mahlen also said it’s been shown that students who attended the program have a higher retention rate than those who did not attend.
The program is aimed to be centered around “spirit, pride and the tradition” of the university. It is also focused on aiding new students, particularly those fresh out of high school, to ease the transition of the college experience, alleviating some of the anxiety that can accompany it.
For more information, contact Outdoor Sports at 936-294-1947.