NSU freshmen connect through Rookie Bridge Camps

(Tahlequah, Okla.)—Nearly 300 Northeastern State University freshmen received their first official taste of college life and connected with other students during another successful Rookie Bridge Camp series. Held July 23-24 and 30-31 on the Tahlequah campus, Rookie Bridge Camp is a student-organized extended orientation program established in 1989. The two-day camps include an overnight stay in cabins, a float trip on the Illinois River and social networking opportunities that help students transition to college life.

“Students who go through RBC typically believe they have a better connection to NSU,” said Tori Proctor, a senior from Tahlequah serving as director of operations for the camps. “They seem more comfortable and ask more questions. Because of this early contact with NSU, they are also more likely to know where to go when they have questions.”

The fundamental purpose of RBC is to provide freshmen with essential knowledge about campus and academic life while allowing them to become acquainted with each other, the upperclassmen volunteers and directors, and attending staff and faculty.

While the float trip and cookout might be most anticipated by participants, other activities such as Meet Your Mate, Putting It All Together (PIAT), Cross the Line and Skongs help RBC acclimate new students to campus life.

Meet Your Mate has the students make a mock run through their class schedules.

“This allows them to meet others in their classes and exchange contact information,” Proctor said. “We also invite faculty to attend so they can talk with students about what the courses will entail and answer questions.”

PIAT is a time-management exercise which was reintroduced as a separate event to RBC this year. Freshmen are given a worksheet on which they prioritize their social, academic, personal and leadership goals. They then have 10 minutes to move between stations manned by volunteers to earn points according to priorities.

“An example would be earning 3 points in leadership by attending a mock interview” Proctor said. “After 10 minutes they evaluate their points and are given a second chance to improve in areas where they fell short. The first 10 minutes represent the first semester and the second 10 represent the second semester.”

Cross the Line reveals analogous experiences among the freshmen.

“It is one of our more serious activities, but also one of the most popular,” said Casey Dillard, a senior from Sallisaw and a director of RBC staff development. “We may ask which are the first college students in their families, the size of their high school graduating class, whether their parents are together or divorced or whether they have a loved one who struggles with substance addiction. When the answer is yes they cross the line. Afterward they split into small groups and reflect. This activity shows the students they are not alone in college and that others have similar experiences and problems.”

Skongs, an RBC tradition, are skits and songs put together by the freshmen that poke fun at directors and other volunteers.

The backbone of RBC is the students who offer their time. Many participated in the camps as incoming freshmen.

“I participate in Rookie Bridge Camp because I see, year after year, that the students who attend the camp have more fun, make more friends and are more prepared for college,” Dillard said. “Students who have this experience are much more likely to stay in school and finish their degree.”

Proctor encouraged NSU students to volunteer for future RBC weekends, calling the experience “rewarding.”

“I would also like freshmen coming to NSU to know that they really should go to Rookie Bridge Camp,” she said. “It is probably one of the best decisions one could make heading into a college career.”

For more information about Rookie Bridge Camp visit the Student Affairs website or call the Office of Student Activities at (918) 444-2526. 

Published: 8/9/2011 2:44:09 PM

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