You can spot them by the red rope bracelets hanging from their wrists. They’re two stories up on the rock climbing wall at the Ramsey Student Center or recruiting new members for a club between classes. Dawg Camp Adventure veterans, it seems, are everywhere.
The camp is a program open to incoming freshmen that guides them through outdoors activities like kayaking across Lake Jocasse or backpacking through the Cohutta Wilderness.
“I think of the main reasons we run the program is for the kids to get to know each other and develop a support system outside of their friends back home. They share a common interest in the outdoors, so once they’re here they can use that to have a friend to go hiking with on the weekend or to call up someone and say ‘Hey, I’d like to go to dinner with somebody different’,” says Kyndra Luce, the program’s graduate assistant.
Dawg Camp Adventure operates two routes, or adventures at a time, one on land and one on water. The water students spend time on kayaks and whitewater rafts, while the land students backpack and paraglide. Everyone camps at night.
The sessions run July 10-15 and July 17-22. It costs $350 and accepts the first 20 applicants. Applications are due June 14 and 21, respectively and can be found at the program’s Web site.
“At the beginning of the week the students are timid and don’t know anybody. By the end of the week it’s a totally different group. The students are best friends and they hate to go. It’s amazing to watch,” says Donna Waters, assistant director of outdoor recreation at UGA.
For the final meal, both groups come together to watch slides of their week and say goodbye. Each student leaves with a red bracelet that many leave on for their tenure at UGA. It’s not unusual to hear someone call out across campus to another Dawg Camp veteran and start a conversation or a friendship, Luce said.
As the students trek through the adventures, they’re free to talk with the group leaders, which means they get a real sense of the UGA experiences, says Candy Sherman, director of the leadership department of Student Activities. She says the Dawg Campers tend to become involved in many groups, often leading Greek organizations or spearheading campus-wide initiatives.
“We did a survey of students who had not attended and students who did, and those who attended were more satisfied with their overall campus experience and more active in campus activities and leadership roles. We also found they had a better sense of community and were more apt to develop campus networks,” she says.
Dawg Camp Adventure is an arm of Dawg Camp, which encompasses several summer programs for incoming freshmen.