For over 10 years, the University of Oklahoma’s official orientation camp has been giving new students a valuable support system before they begin their time at OU. Serving around 2,500 incoming freshman and transfer students each summer, Camp Crimson has become more than just a camp.
In only three days and two nights, Camp Crimson provides students with a crash course on what it means to be a Sooner. From the moment campers arrive, Sooners get the opportunity to meet other students. Student leaders also help campers get connected on campus to faculty and staff members whom provide skills necessary to succeed at OU.
Camp Crimson helps Sooners build connections with their OU family members through activities like cardboard boat races, which campers build together, and a dance party at the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
Assistant Director of Student Life, Orientation and Transfer Programs, Bridgitte Castorino, says that the main goal of camp is to help Sooners “feel comfortable and more secure in starting this new chapter of their life.” Castorino also says that the OU family is discussed a lot. Camp staff want new Sooners to know that "college will be an adventure, it will have its ups and downs, but they have people on their team, people who want to help them succeed.”
The most recent “Sooner” session of Camp Crimson began on July 18, where incoming freshman Ashley Evans says she gained “lots of new friends who turned into her OU family.” Evans also said she “learned so much about what is means to be a Sooner, how to get around on campus and, of course, every word to the OU chant.”
According to Evans, the best part of camp was staying up too late playing games and talking with her new friends. Evans also said coming to camp helped her prepare for the start of her first semester. “Before camp, I was super nervous about starting college. But on the last day, I didn’t even want to leave and I can’t wait to come back in the fall.”
Each summer, Camp Crimson works to make the orientation experience a little better. Using last year’s post-camp surveys, camp staff decided to make some changes to the programming. According to Castorino, this year’s camp sessions will have more time for campers to interact with people outside of their small group, less walking and a little more freedom. Castorino says she wants “to make sure that Camp Crimson is always taking into account the voices of all students.”