"Getting familiar" with UT Tyler: Freshmen creating lasting bonds at Swoop Camps

Madelyn McGregor • Contributing Writer

Photo Credit: Logan Hernandez

Swoop Camp 2019 was a week-long camp for freshmen that took place the week before the semester started. Students got to move in early, had the opportunity to meet new people and make friends, learn important information about campus life and policies and even participate in group community service activities.

The main thing that Swoop Camp attendees took away from the experience was the meaningful connections they made and the quality time they got to have with fellow freshmen and leaders.

“Basically the point of Swoop Camp was just to get us familiar with the place and the people,” Said Jason Moore, a freshman Mass Communication Student.

Moore also explained that once students arrived at Swoop Camp, they were split up into two color families: warm and cool. From there, the color families were divided into red, orange, blue, and green, and then each color was divided further into numerical teams. While these nesting teams helped to promote a general feeling of team spirit, they also allowed students to actually connect with each other on both a general and personal level- especially during the Swoop Camp games, like dodgeball.

“We were rooting for our color families,” said Moore, “And that’s when I really felt like we were a community. All united.”

Photo Credit: Zoe McGhee

The community students felt was more than just for their teams; there were plenty of activities where the teams were not relevant and students were free to mingle with whoever they wanted.

“We were told to make a secret handshake with someone random” says Joe Peery, a freshman Electrical Engineering student. Now, Peery says, whenever students see their “handshake buddy” on campus, they are to do their secret handshake. Activities like this are what helped students to make friendships that would last even beyond Swoop Camp.

While making friends at Swoop Camp was fun for students, it was also extremely helpful especially since attendees were freshmen. Starting college when you don’t know anybody can be more than a little intimidating.

“I don’t know everybody, but if I see someone who was at Swoop Camp, I at least recognize them,” says Tarayla Kelley, a freshman Marketing student.

Even just being able to recognize someone helps students to break the ice when trying to get help with directions on campus, form study groups for classes, and make meaningful connections in general.

Even though Swoop Camp was specifically for freshmen, they weren’t the only ones who got a meaningful experience out of it. Sophomore Savannah Rankin gave a perspective on what it was like for the leaders of Swoop Camp.

“It was a lot of group bonding,” said Rankin.

She explained that last school year, students were recruited to be leaders for both Swoop Camp and Freshman Orientation. Then, the team leaders “spent the whole spring semester meeting once a week for about an hour” in order to prepare for Orientation and Swoop Camp, including learning all the chants they used and came up with activities for the new students.

Photo Credit: Zoe McGhee

Rankin says she definitely recommends attending Swoop Camp for freshmen and becoming a leader for current students.

“I would 100% recommend it because people are already making friends and they already know people in their classes,” says Rankin.

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