Freshman year is daunting. Change brings uncertainty, whether you’re itching to leave high school behind, or scared that you’ve “peaked”. My freshman year was difficult in ways I didn’t expect. I had never struggled with new people, but COVID restrictions and online classes made my access to people extremely limited. Although I spent my freshman year on campus, I returned my sophomore year feeling like a first-year student. My community was limited to those I’d met in my dorm or virtually through Zoom; my understanding of the Kelley culture was essentially nonexistent.
My freshman period of discovery and exploration started at the beginning of my sophomore year.
FROM SHARK TANK TO SCAVENGER HUNTS
For these reasons, when I was tapped to serve as Student Coordinator for Camp Kelley Bloomington, I was both eager and honored. I was excited by the prospect of giving the incoming freshman class a better experience and introducing them to everything Kelley and IU have to offer. With locations in Bloomington (B-Town) and Lake Tippecanoe (a lake a few hours outside of Bloomington), Camp Kelley is a program offered exclusively to direct admit first-year students. In this role, I was responsible for managing our K-Team Leaders (older students who lead groups of freshmen throughout camp), coordinating with faculty, and creating programming that acclimates students socially, academically, and professionally.
During camp, it was wonderful seeing new Kelleys make friends and learn to navigate our beautiful campus. Student and faculty panels empowered campers to learn about the curriculum and what opportunities has Kelley has to offer. Networking was encouraged and many campers were able to befriend members of student organizations and discern which organizations they were interested in joining! In fact, among the fourteen first year students admitted to Kelley Student Government (a student organization very close to my heart), five of them attended Camp Kelley!
Another highlight of camp was the Shark Tank style case competition where campers were assigned random teams and designed their own promotional campaign for the Little500. This activity is indicative of case competitions students experience throughout their Kelley career thus providing professional development in an engaging way. My favorite activity of all had to be the K-Team Scavenger Hunt in which K-Teams were given an hour to complete and document proof of various challenges around campus. From getting the lists notarized by strangers to proposing to a different team’s K-Team leader, the Scavenger hunt was incredibly lighthearted and fun!
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER
To me, however, the most notable moment of the week was the last night of camp. In this activity, students and K-Team leaders anonymously acknowledge one another’s impact. We sat in a circle facing outward while a small group of students stood in the center. A facilitator would read statements like “this person inspires me” or “this person was there for me when I needed them this week”. From there, the center group would tap members of the outside group letting them know of their impact. This activity often brings people to tears. When people come together and acknowledge strengths you may not even recognize in yourself, it is a beautiful thing. This activity is just one example of how the relationships you create in Camp Kelley are maintained long after.
One of my favorite parts of my experience as Coordinator was working with the K-Team leaders. I was unbelievably lucky to work alongside people with such an authentic passion for others. Our K-Team leaders had such a genuine commitment to helping first year students connect with one another and IU. Many of the K-Team leaders had been campers at Camp Kelley and had returned to give back to the camp! That sense of paying it forward is something that you see everywhere at Kelley.
Although my freshman year was not ideal, I found so much joy in creating a better experience for incoming freshmen. I wholeheartedly encourage new Kelley DA’s to take advantage of this program and dive into the Kelley community!
Reserve your Spot for Camp Kelley Now! Click Here.
Madeline Heath is a third year at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business where she is majoring in Marketing and International Business and minoring in Studio Art. Maddie is passionate about the Kelley community and devotes much of her time to Kelley Student Government where she has served as Director of Student Life and currently serves as First Year Engagement Lead. A creative at heart, Maddie believes in the power of an imaginative approach and is excited to share favorite experiences and insights about Kelley with you!
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