Monday, August 4, 2014

Alumni Bring Leadership Fun to Privateer Camp

Fifty incoming freshmen at the University of New Orleans participated this year in Privateer Camp, a three-day overnight retreat where they prepared to be student leaders. The annual leadership camp is an opportunity for the new students to forge friendships, learn about traditions and build leadership and student success skills before heading to campus in the fall.

"This year UNO Alumni played a role in Privateer Camp," said Lindsey Desselle, graduate assistant for New Student Orientation in Enrollment Services. "Eight enthusiastic Alumni met with their Krewe Leaders, had a Krewe named after them, and even came to meetings, breakfast, and/or the second day of Privateer Camp. This new component allowed the participants, as well as the Krewe Leaders, to see how great of an education they are getting."

Privateer Camp, established five years ago as a joint effort of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and the Office of Orientation and First Year Experience, is designed to help new students strengthen bonds and optimize their first-year experience, said Christy Heaton, associate director for orientation and first-year experience. Heaton and Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Dale O'Neill created the camp as a way to help form early relationships and build skills among student leaders. On Tuesday more than 50 fall freshmen joined upperclassmen, faculty and staff piling into buses headed for a three-day two-night adventure at Camp Wesley Pines in Gullman, Miss.

At Privateer Camp, they developed new relationships, participated in skill-building workshops and learned more about the University, while having loads of fun. Krewe Leaders — upperclassmen selected through an application and interview process — led their small groups through five breakout sessions: History and Traditions, Involvement and Leadership, Wellness, Diversity, and Student Resources. Each breakout session has a component of discussion, activity "and a tiny bit of lecture or information," said Desselle. Krewe Leaders also lead their small groups through a series of competitions and a range of activities from canoeing to campfires.

"Students really get a lot of information on how to get involved and how to successfully transition to college and how to get their involved in their community," said O'Neill. "There is a spirit competition, a UNO trivia competition, a flag competition, a skit competition ... All of these are judged on teamwork, UNO spirit, knowledge of UNO history and traditions and creativity. The krewes are competing the entire three days. They love it."

This year, Jason Guilbeau, assistant director of alumni affairs for the UNO International Alumni Association, proposed that the small groups, traditionally known as "krewes," be tied to prominent UNO alumni. The practice, modeled at Texas A & M University and other universities and colleges, helps to recognize alumni "out and about in the community doing great things," said O'Neill. "It was a great way to reward alumni who are doing great things for the community and to connect them with some of our freshmen students," said O'Neill. "It was so wonderful just to get alumni involved. It's also important because it reminds students that you just don't get involved for four years, you can get involved as an alumnus/a. You can be involved with UNO for the rest of your life."

And, she added, "It also reminds students that they too can do great things in the community.
The student Krewe Leaders helped to select the eight Krewe Namesakes—one for each Krewe—from a list of alumni and friends, said Guilbeau. The namesakes attended a Krewe Leader meeting, attended the welcome breakfast, attended a day of camp and will continue to attend events with their Krewes in the fall.

"The experience has been great for the alumni because they are able to get connected back to campus and it's great for the students because they are able to build a close relationship with a successful UNO alumnus or friend," said Guilbeau. The inaugural group of Privateer Camp Krewe Namesakes included:
• Dominic Agoro-Ombaka '08, Owner, Agoro Designs
• Robin Barnes '09 '10, Singer/Owner, Robin Barnes Music
• Dawn Jefferson '12, Casting Assistant, RPM Casting
• Glenn Newbauer '98, Associate Attorney, Chehardy Sherman
• Mark Romig '78, President and CEO, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Voice of the New Orleans Saints
• Mike Sapera '81, CFO, Perlis, Inc.
• Mark Slessinger, Coach, UNO Privateer Men's Basketball
• Sheba Turk '11, Host, The 504, WWL TV Eyewitness News Morning Anchor

Privateer Camp has changed and grown over the years, said Desselle. Camp begins with a special breakfast for participants, who enjoy their morning meal with UNO faculty and staff, including the Deans of various colleges. The breakfast "allows the students to have more connections before even arriving onto campus, which can help a new student tremendously," said Desselle, who added that the camp schedule "has also grown to allow more time for Krewe groups to spend more time together, as well as allow more free time."

While she has seen improvements, the core of Privateer Camp remains the same, said Desselle.

"As for what has it changed, I believe the energy and love of what the camp stands for has not changed," she said. "The Krewe Leaders and staff still provide the enthusiasm for working with these students, which is shown through their interactions."

This year, 10 Professional Staff Facilitators, dubbed "PSFs" were assigned to the eight krewes, Desselle said. Prior to camp, they helped create plans for the breakout sessions led by their individual teams and during Privateer Camp, the PSFs attended every breakout session and contributed to the sessions, she said.

During the three days, participants grow in various ways, said Desselle, citing new leadership skills, presentation skills and new friendships gained as incoming freshmen step out of their comfort zones.

"We do not a typical student that comes to Privateer Camp," said Desselle. "We have students from all walks of life sign up and attend. We have students that are excited to be there and students that were signed up by their parents who may not be as excited. However, all of the students leave Privateer Camp with a love for UNO that is stronger than it was before."

Students who attend Privateer Camp have a higher retention rate going into sophomore year, said O'Neill, who said enrollment management personnel review year-to-year data for all students.

"We think that's because they're able to meet professional staff, they're able to make connections with student leaders already on campus and they get to get more in depth knowledge of all of the resources we have on campus," said O'Neill. "They're definitely more engaged. A lot of times once they come in they already have pa group of good friends, they already know a lot about student resources."

And that's not the only bonus, she said.

"We really see these students as the cream of the crop, as students who want to be student leaders," she said. "These are the students who want to be involved on campus, who want to be student leaders and who want to see how they can do that and can jump in once they get to UNO."


Read More

Privateer Camp
Privateer Camp Begins with Breakfast
Privateer Camp Builds Student Leaders, Privateer Bonds
UNO Privateer Camp Helps Freshmen Optimize First-Year Experience