Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Camp Texas bridges gap between high school, UT

Manoo Sirivelu
Camp Texas Counselors (from left to right) Mateen Lindsay, Nina Alvarez and Saúl Compean stand for a portrait in front of a bronze Bevo statue at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center on Friday, March 1, 2024.

For incoming freshmen, the experience of being on the Forty Acres for the first time marks a memory most will never forget. For many, finding community proves difficult, but one Texas Exes-sponsored program seeks to allow students to connect with their peers before their first class day. 

Camp Texas, established in 1993, is an initiative where incoming freshmen attend a three-day retreat during the summer to have fun and meet new people. Taking place at Camp Buckner in Burnet, small groups of students participate in team-building activities and games throughout the duration of the retreat.  

Mateen Lindsay, an international relations and government sophomore who serves on the Camp Texas executive board, said the camp gave her everything. 

“I wasn’t able to go to my (freshman) orientation because I had COVID,” Lindsay said. “Camp gave me the most genuine people I’ve ever met, the most loving people I’ve ever met. They saved me. I am so close to so many of them now.”

While Lindsay did experience Camp Texas as a camper, she said being on the other side proves a rewarding experience as well. 

“We don’t get paid for our work. … You have to actually pay out of pocket,” Lindsay said. “It is so rewarding because those kids look up to you so much. Even though I’m just one year ahead, I know how much I can shape their college experience, and I just want to help them as much as I can.” 

Saúl Compean, a marketing sophomore and counselor, said his experience with Camp Texas in high school encouraged him to become a counselor himself. 

“Campers and counselors definitely brought a sense of community, in my experience, which is what led me to wanting to be a counselor and providing that kind of experience for other campers,” Compean said.

Additionally, Compean said Camp Texas provided him the chance to be a part of something much bigger than himself. After having his own experience being anxious about coming to UT, Camp Texas gave him a sense of community. 

“Helping the students be welcomed into something that can be really scary … (and) being able to bring that sense of, not only community but comfort in this place that many people are really scared of, is essentially what I was hoping (for),” Compean said.

Many Camp Texas counselors take the lessons and memories from their training at Camp Buckner with them for life, including Camp Texas Co-Chair and government and journalism junior Nina Alvarez who, because of COVID-19, couldn’t attend as a camper herself. 

“We have this thing called CT Love,” Alvarez said. “It’s just so full of love that you never feel like you can’t be yourself. At a university this big … being able to find (community) my first semester here was like the biggest thing that I needed as a freshman.” 

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