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What began 30 years ago as a fun way to pull first-year students together for class identity has evolved into an internationally recognized tradition that has changed the culture of and appeal for TCU.  

鈥淲hen we had the idea for Frog Camp, we wanted a mechanism to create school spirit. We lacked that kind of tradition, not just for class identity but something that would make the TCU experience unique,鈥 said Mike Russel, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, who served on the organizing committee.  

The result was Frog Camp, with the first rendition in 1994 modeled after a summer camp experience: outdoor challenge courses, small groups, cabins, campfires and storytelling. 茄子视频 100 incoming first-year students attended that first 鈥 and then only 鈥 camp held over four August days and three nights in Bruceville, Texas. 

鈥淚 knew as soon as we got off the bus at the first camp that we were onto something,鈥 said Russel, who for many years was a facilitator.  

That 鈥渟omething鈥 is now considered a once-in-a-lifetime retreat. Enthusiasm about Frog Camp grew after the first year with three camps planned for the following. Today, about 80 percent of incoming students attend Frog Camp, which offers about a dozen sessions and a half dozen themes, like 鈥淎ll Stars鈥 for sports fans or 鈥淐asa Nueva鈥 that introduces campers to everything Fort Worth. 

The popularity of the program is not all that鈥檚 changed. Today, while Frog Camp still offers a core introductory TCU experience, students can now choose a camp that takes them up the mountains of Colorado, to international destinations or even a mystery location.  

No matter which camp, Kathy Cavins-Tull, vice chancellor of student affairs, says connection is the key ingredient. 

鈥淲e know that students who participate in Frog Camp come to campus in August already having a group of friends they鈥檙e excited to see. That common camp experience bonds them and gives them greater confidence that the transition to campus is going to be OK,鈥 she said. 鈥淎fter they are on campus, we regularly hear the conversation of students introducing themselves to each other, and the characteristics they want to know are where is your hometown, what residence hall are you in and which Frog Camp did you attend. I love that!鈥 

Over the years, the structure and organization of Frog Camp has become much more sophisticated and also more student-led, Russel said. 

鈥淲hat were previously volunteer roles have become board positions, and upper-division students seek the leadership opportunities camp offers them,鈥 he said. 鈥淭hey help incoming students in their journey to know what to expect at TCU, as well as explore our values. It鈥檚 a way for them to give back to the university. They want others to have the same experience they had.鈥 

In addition to upper-division students, there are always trained professional staff members at each camp, plus faculty and staff volunteer facilitators.  

鈥淭he faculty and staff find it invaluable,鈥 Russel said. 鈥淧lus, it gives them opportunities to meet others they might not normally interact with.鈥 

While some camps have come and gone, like the winter camp and service camp, one tradition that remains is that the camps are designed for team-building and a way for students to connect and develop friendships.  

鈥淲e know that the best predictor of whether or not a student will graduate from a university is dependent on their ability to make connections and feel a sense of belonging within the first six weeks of their first school year,鈥 Cavins-Tull said. 鈥淔rog Camp intentionally creates that sense of belonging in the summertime, leaving the time between camp and move-in for students to continue connecting over social media, meet ups in their states or at send-off parties.鈥 

A constant of Frog Camp is that in-state camps are at no additional charge to incoming students, which is important to ensure that the experience is available to all. Certain aspects like this are hallmarks after 30 years. 

鈥淭here鈥檚 a great sense of pride and spirit that come out of Frog Camp,鈥 Russel said. 鈥淲e鈥檒l continue that course and will always have small groups, enlist the help of faculty, staff and other students so that campers can learn what it means to be a Horned Frog.鈥 

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