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Hokie Camp sets students up for success — even before move-in

June 3, 2016

All Hokie Camp counselors pose for a picture in front of the pylons.
Hokie Camp counselors hail from different years, majors, backgrounds, and experiences. One thing they all have in common? A passion for welcoming new Hokies to Virginia Tech.

Though the fall semester still feels a long way off, more than a thousand incoming students will begin to gear up for the start of the academic year well before move-in. Registration for Hokie Camp, Virginia Tech’s three-day extended orientation program, is open and spots are filling fast for this summer’s four sessions.

What can students expect at Hokie Camp? Community, fun, service, traditions, and a jump start on their Virginia Tech experience are just the beginning. Hokie Camp experts — otherwise known as the student directors — weighed in on their favorite aspects of Hokie Camp.

“I truly believe that it is the perfect opportunity for incoming Hokies to get a taste of the kind of people they will be surrounding themselves with at Virginia Tech,” said Jen Loh of Herndon, Virginia, a senior majoring in human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “I have seen students who have doubted their decision to attend Virginia Tech before going to Hokie Camp, but then those same students leave feeling confident and excited to start the semester! Hokie Camp positively impacts people, and that’s what makes me keep coming back.

“My favorite thing about Hokie Camp is that it gave me self-confidence,” said Loh. “I was so scared and awkward on the bus ride into Hokie Camp, but after the first couple of activities, you could tell that this was going to be a safe place where I could really be my confident, true self. The transition between high school and college is scary and it puts you in a vulnerable place, but after attending Hokie Camp, I had confidence in myself and was able to tackle those awkward encounters in my residence hall or in my large lecture classes. You meet so many people at Hokie Camp that you get used to getting those first conversations started, and that's something that you can't really do anywhere else.”

In addition to instilling confidence, Hokie Camp also sets students up with mentors and lasting friendships.

“I went as an incoming first-year student and I was unsure if Virginia Tech was actually going to feel like home and if I was going to be able to connect with other people,” said Matt Cheatham of Midlothian, Virginia, a recent graduate of the College of Engineering and an incoming graduate student studying higher education and student affairs. “Hokie Camp answered all of those questions immediately because I was able to connect with other students right away. The team-building activities really helped me build confidence going into my first week, and I had my friends from Hokie Camp I could go to for help. I played flag football and other intramural sports with some of the guys from my group, so when you hear that people make lasting friendships at Hokie Camp, it is definitely true.”

“Hokie Camp is for everyone and anyone,” said Dakota Farquhar-Caddell, assistant director of New Student and Family Programs and Hokie Camp coordinator. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve grown up going to Tech football games or if you’ve never set foot on campus. You’ll make meaningful and lasting connections, learn about yourself, get advice from current Hokies, have a blast playing games, and even spend some time relaxing. When you move in next fall, you’ll be energized with the Hokie Spirit and already know hundreds of familiar faces.”

Prior to each session, participants will gather in Blacksburg for lunch at Lane Stadium. Then the group travels to the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center on Smith Mountain Lake, where they stay in lodges and eat meals family style. Students belong to small groups with an upper-class counselor. They will spend intentional time enjoying fun activities, learning about resources on campus, discovering Hokie Spirit and traditions, and getting to know other students — and themselves — better.

For the first time this summer, Hokie Camp will implement a hands-on service component to each session to teach incoming students about the university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

The first session of Hokie Camp has already filled, and New Student and Family Programs is urging incoming students to sign up as soon as possible to ensure a spot.

Session 2 takes place July 22-24 and Session 3 takes place Aug. 8-10. These two sessions are open and available to all first-year students, including new members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

Session 4 takes place Aug. 16-18. At the beginning of this session, students will be given the key to their residence hall rooms to drop their belongings in their room before heading to Hokie Camp.

Students can sign up for Hokie Camp on Hokie SPA. The cost is $240, which covers transportation, lodging, meals, a Hokie Camp T-shirt, and a water bottle. The fee will be included in the student’s Virginia Tech account.

For information regarding scholarships, please email hokiecamp@vt.edu.

Written by Holly Paulette.

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