McNeese State University's summer Cowboy Camp is a one-day program specifically designed to help the incoming freshman class and transfer students meet new people, get acquainted with the campus and its student organizations, find out about additional resources and "pass" a great time on campus.
The 2011 Cowboy Camp will be held from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. July 8 and costs $20 per person. Students participate in events and activities that will highlight campus involvement, school spirit, Cowboy traditions and success in college. Activities are led by the Rowdy Riders - 25 to 30 McNeese students who are involved with student organizations on campus.
Students attending McNeese this fall have an opportunity to take this crash course on what it means to become a Cowboy, according to Kedrick Nicholas, coordinator of student activities. "These students can learn about McNeese history and traditions before they set foot in a classroom or attend their first Cowboy football game and have fun doing it."
Cowboy Camp also provides acclimation to the university for students, added Nicholas. "Cowboy Camp is about connecting to the campus and learning your way around before fall classes begin."
Danielle Morrissey, a Moss Bluff mass communication senior who attended that first Cowboy Camp four years ago, agrees with Nicholas.
"All freshmen entering college seem to have the same worry - fitting in and not looking like 'lost' freshmen," said Morrissey. "Cowboy Camp gave me the tools I needed to fit in my very first day. The student leaders told us where people hung out and popular study areas and lunch spots. I wanted to dive into college head first and be involved and I hoped Cowboy Camp would afford me that opportunity."
And has it ever. Morrissey is currently president of the Student Union Board and a member of Phi Mu sorority, Student Government Association, Rotaract, and is a Blue and Gold Peer Leader.
Morrissey - who grew up with McNeese in her backyard - said she always knew the basic information about McNeese.
"At freshman orientation, I received information about the campus and student life but I wanted to know more. I wanted to be very involved in college so attending Cowboy Camp was an obvious choice. It gave me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the university and introduced me to such student organizations as SUB and SGA," she explained. "Cowboy Camp is such a great way for potential student leaders to hit the ground running before they even attend the first day of classes."
Cowboy Camp starts with registration at Cowboy Stadium and then participants take the elevator to the Noland SkyRanch where introductions and an overview of the day's events take place. Students also learn about Cowboy athletic, are encouraged to support their Pokes, meet student-athletes representing all 16 sports played at McNeese and then practice a little "Joli Blon" before heading to the student section of "the hole," where Cowboy football takes place on Saturday nights.
"Here, students are introduced to the cheerleaders, Cowgirl Kickers and Pride of McNeese band leaders who walk them through McNeese's fight songs, "Joli Blon" and "On McNeese," said Nicholas.
Afterwards, the group walks over to the Cowboy Club for some lunch and are introduced to the "Cowboy Way,"-hot spots on campus, Greek life, student organizations and the student employment center.
Students then board a bus to the Stream Alumni Center for some "Artifacts and Ice Cream" sponsored by the McNeese Alumni Association. Here, students see glass cases filled with almost 75 years of nostalgic items from McNeese's history, while alumni association members serve up some ice cream.
Then on to the bronze horse and rider statue that stands 11 feet tall in front of the university's Entrance Plaza on the corner of Ryan Street and Sale Road. Here, a new McNeese tradition began at the first Cowboy Camp-the Entrance Plaza Ceremony.
"Participants walk by and touch the base of the horse and rider statue as they 'enter' the campus through the Entrance Plaza archway," said Nicholas. "This ritual symbolizes each student's introduction to the campus."
This spring the first Exit Plaza Ceremony will be conducted for graduating students like Morrissey who attended that first camp, he said. "Participants will now 'leave' the campus through the archway toward the horse and rider and again touch the statue's base to symbolize the end of their academic journey here at McNeese. However, their life's journey is just beginning."
For more information about Cowboy Camp, contact the McNeese Student Union Office at (337) 475-5609 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.