First Year Experience directors bond during weekend retreat

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    Student directors and faculty spent the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend at a retreat at Beaumont Ranch in Grandview, where they discussed their roles in student life.

    The annual retreat, south of Fort Worth, brought together the student leaders of Frog Camp, Orientation, and Connections. All three programs are meant to help incoming students adjust to life at TCU. 

    Together known as “First Year Experience” directors, these students learned how to best work together as organizations to accommodate next year’s incoming class.

    “The point of the retreat is to give them opportunities to know each other and their programs, and then start to give them some real skills to bring new students in successfully,” said John-Mark Day, director of first year experience.

    Students attended seminars, participated in group bonding activities, learned studied theory about first year students, practiced the interview process for future facilitators, trained in crucial conversation and partook in small group planning.

    “A lot of the activities we did focused on helping them understand the responsibilities of each of the programs and identifying the needs of the students that we serve,” said Trung Nguyen, assistant director of TCU Transitions.

    “We worked on a lot of team building things, basically showing us that no organization is better than another, that we have to work together as a team,” said junior Grant Canning, a sports broadcasting major, who serves as the director of curriculum and games at Frog Camp Challenge.

    “I learned so much, not only about my organization, but about the other organizations too, which helped a lot because I can now talk about it to incoming freshman,” Canning said.

    Although Canning has served as a facilitator in past years, and experienced Frog Camp and Orientation first hand as a freshman, he said that the retreat still allowed him to take away new information about TCU.

    “It finally hit me, while we were at camp, that everyone is going to look up to me as, one of those people to look up to during camp and now it’s time to take those leadership skills that you already have and grow upon them,” Canning said.

    For the first time this year, the students stayed together in a bunkhouse. This allowed the students to bond during their free time outside of scheduled activities, said Lindsay Knight, assistant director of TCU Transitions.

    “We’ve got some great research that shows this is a really successful way to help kickoff this program for all three of these groups,” Day said. “So, we just keep continuing every year to make it better and better.”