Auburn University’s First Year Experience Office announced in early April that all Camp War Eagle sessions would be online this summer following the cancellation of all campus events through June 30.
“We officially found out April 9, but the staff did a really great job keeping us informed on what was going on and all of the possibilities for the future of Camp War Eagle,” said Ginny Wilder, sophomore in nursing. “So as they were getting new information, they would always relay that to us.”
Counselors have been meeting weekly since January in preparation for introducing incoming freshmen to Auburn’s campus — meetings that went digital at the same time as the rest of the University.
“To be honest, at first it felt a bit overwhelming seeing as navigating technology can be an issue, and relationships are more difficult to build with our incoming freshmen over a screen,” said Garret Martinez, sophomore in civil engineering. “However, our staff has been working tirelessly to ease all of the stresses and ensure that we have the proper training and guidance to not survive but thrive in our new virtual format.”
As of now, the format looks very similar to an in-person session of Camp War Eagle. There will be eight sessions from late May through early July, according to counselor Becca Fraley, sophomore in public relations.
“These sessions will take place Monday to Thursday, and will give incoming freshmen the opportunity to meet with both a CWE counselor and academic advisers to prepare them for registration,” Fraley said. “Prior to each session, there will be online modules for incoming students to access which will have additional information to prepare them for the rest of the virtual orientation.”
The basic components of orientation will still be present — a group led by a counselor, meetings with advisers and registering for classes.
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“The first-day campers will be placed in small groups, and counselors will walk them through a variety of Tiger Talks, like a normal session would run,” Wilder said. “Then, later that afternoon, all of the campers will have a group advising meeting with their adviser and all campers in the session who are in the same major. The second and third day, the freshmen will have one on one meetings with their advisers via Zoom. The fourth day will be when they register for classes.”
Despite the switch to an online orientation, many counselors are still optimistic about making the experience special for incoming freshmen.
“I think it’s really easy for us to get caught up in ourselves and being selfish, when ultimately that is the last thing we should be doing,” Fraley said. “While this circumstance may not be ideal for me, it is even less ideal for those high school seniors that will be coming though orientation.”
One senior is Hannah Smith, a soon-to-be graduate of Beulah High School in Valley, Alabama, who says she’s already begun mourning the idea of what her freshman year was supposed to be.
“It’s the beginning of my time at Auburn, and while these are unprecedented times I was still looking forward to it, but I understand why it has to be virtual,” Smith said. “I feel like they’re doing the best they can, and I’m thankful for that.”
The first session of Camp War Eagle is set to be at the end of May, and Martinez says he is nervous and excited to offer students their first taste of the Auburn spirit.
“They’ve already missed on a lot, so I am humbled to be a part of the team that is going to help restore some sense of normalcy,” Martinez said. “Auburn is still a family and strong in the midst of these challenges, and we want students to feel welcome onto the Loveliest Village on the Plains.”
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