Bonding time: Cat Camp a chance for college freshmen to unwind before classes start

Western Carolina University's Cat Camp is a chance for freshmen to bond prior to the start of classes. This is the shaving cream party. / Photo submitted

Commentary by Kaitlin Gillespie
Times-News correspondent
teens20@thetimesnews.com

   HENDERSONVILLE — As students prepare to start college, there is a lot of anxiety. Things students most worry about are that classes will be hard, there won’t be any friends they know and that they won’t like their roommate.
At Western Carolina University (WCU), there is a program known as Cat Camp that attempts to quell the fears of first-year students. Older students act as camp counselors to answer questions, create friendships and bond with people in their groups, known as “litters.”
    The camp at WCU took students on a four-day, three-night retreat to Bonclarken camp in Flat Rock. We were able to participate in different events, including a shaving cream party in which we all covered ourselves with shaving cream. It allowed us all to grow, not just as individuals, but as a portion of the freshman class.
Different activities and games serve to show campers all the things they have in common and introduce them to the similarities among all freshmen. It gives the college students an upper hand, as they are allowed to move in early, meet people early and adjust for a longer period before classes start.
Retreats are a good way to calm fears and introduce people to each other. Many colleges have different forms of trips before classes start to allow bonding and create lasting friendships.

 Kaitlin Gillespie is a freshman at Western Carolina University and a Teens & Twenties writer.

 

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