Monday, August 24, 2015

Privateer Camp and Transfer Retreat for Leadership Builds Strong Leaders, Strong Bonds

Privateer Camp photoThe Office of Enrollment Services and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership recently concluded their pre-semester activities for student leadership development. Privateer Camp (P-Camp) and Transfer Retreat for Leadership (TRL) are held jointly as a three-day, two-night retreat designed to help freshmen and transfer students make new friends before school starts and encourage them to become leaders on campus.

P-Camp and TRL programming is centered on three key principles: diversity, involvement and leadership. The weekend includes workshops on managing time effectively, easing the transition to a new learning environment and balancing involvement with academics. This year's participants included 63 incoming freshmen and 11 transfer students. An additional 23 upperclassmen, previously selected through a rigorous application and training process, attended and served as transfer mentors and krewe leaders for retreat activities. The group traveled to Camp Istrouma, a retreat center in Greenwell Springs, La. Beyond the substantial topics covered, campers also enjoyed relaxation with icebreaker games, lake activities and introductions to UNO traditions.

There are at least three distinct benefits directly attributable to the P-Camp and TRL programs. First, program participants carry their leadership training well beyond their first years and create a large talent pool of student leadership that can be seen for years to come in UNO's Leadership Cabinet, Student Government Association, Student Activities Council and Greek Life. Additionally, the retreat activities build relationships that make student leaders successful as they embark on new roles as college students.

"Mentors, participants, and professional staff become a family through TRL," said recent transfer mentor Kristi Martin.

"Friendships that are started at P-Camp and TRL will last a lifetime," added 2015 krewe leader Shrederick King.

Lastly, P-Camp and TRL benefit students besides those who might go on to become campus leaders.

"While the retreat tends to attract students who already see themselves as leaders, the camp also draws some shy students who get extra time to make friends," said Dale O'Neill, director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. "There are so many other things going on," she said, referring to pressures faced by any college student, "and the skills they build and friends they make at P-Camp and TRL are there to help them through the transition. They know they have a support system at UNO, and that's reassuring. It's important to their future success."

O'Neill and Christy Heaton, associate director for orientation and first-year student success, designed P-Camp and TRL as well as the Privateer Plunge, a six-week orientation to UNO that runs through Sept. 30. The pair joined forces several years ago, sharing ideas and department funds to ensure that incoming freshmen and transfer students' introduction to campus is a positive one. They meet throughout the year to plan the fall semester fun.

"We're setting an example for students that collaboration is good and a necessity," said Heaton. "Being involved isn't something you do by yourself. You work with other students, other leaders and other organizations."