Texas Tech University’s camp is designed for incoming students to create connections, experience traditions and learn more about their new home away from home.
New college students face many challenges when attending college for the first time: making new friends, getting involved, finding their classes, keeping up with school work and living away from home for the first time, among others.
Texas Tech University's Red Raider Camp was created to ease that transition for incoming students by providing a fun opportunity to make friends, experience university traditions and learn more about their new home away from home before they step foot on campus.
“This camp helps students get connected from the very beginning,” said Stefan Altheide, administrator for Texas Tech's Transition and Engagement office. “What I tell parents is that Red Raider Camp will benefit their child academically and socially and it won't take away from their studies because it happens before classes begin.”
The camp is optional for students and is led by current Red Raiders who share their experiences and keys to success for being at Texas Tech and Lubbock. Taking place at the Texas 4-H Conference Center campus in Brownwood, the three-day adventure prepares students for what is to come.
While at camp, students participate in a variety of activities, including:
- Small group discussions
- Group activities
- History and Traditions skits
- Pool party
- Ropes course
- Ring ceremony and more
Devin DeLapp, a former counselor and director of training and development for Red Raider Camp, said the experiences incoming students participate in at the camp give them an upper hand as they establish friend groups, learn about life as a student and have a better idea of what they want to get involved in during their first year.
“Red Raider Camp is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for both campers and counselors,” said DeLapp, a senior public relations student. “Campers have the opportunity to meet other incoming students, make connections with current students and learn what being a Red Raider truly means, all before moving to Lubbock.”
Students are divided into five teams and two subgroups within those teams. The subgroups, dubbed “Techsans” and “Double Ts” this year, serve as an outlet for students to create closer relationships with other incoming students and their counselors and have open dialogue about college life and Texas Tech. Altheide said the counselors serve as facilitators, but try to keep the conversations as organic as possible.
“These subgroups allow for students to talk and ask questions candidly about the things they really want to know without hesitation or worry about what others might think,” Altheide said. “The groups are no larger than 18 with two counselors, so the students get comfortable around each other really quick and are able to ask the things they want to know.”
The camp, which began in 2001, was revamped in 2014 after it was combined with Red Raider Orientation from 2009-13. The camp has three sessions and serves 180 students during each camp. From zip-lining, to crafts, to dance lessons, free time and more, the camp helps students nurture relationships and get a feel for what college life will be like before the semester begins.
The camp isn't just for first-year students though; it also is for transfer students.
Altheide said for even those who have already experienced what college is like, Red Raider Camp is still a viable option for new Red Raiders. Even though the students are divided into their teams randomly, Altheide said they try to group transfer students together as they already have an understanding of what college is like but are new to Texas Tech.
Eric Honesto, a senior accounting student from Lubbock, is a Red Raider Camp counselor this year who transferred to Texas Tech earlier in his college career. Honesto said it is a unique experience for any incoming student.
“This doesn't have to be your first year of college but your first time at Texas Tech,” he said. “Knowing the people of your university and the history behind it will make your first day on campus something to look forward to.”
Current students who have great pride for the scarlet and black also can be a part of Red Raider Camp as counselors even if they didn't attend as campers.
Students go through an application process to be selected as counselors for the camp. This year, Red Raider Camp has 20 counselors and five student directors, including DeLapp, who has been a part of Red Raider Camp since it was revamped in 2014.
“If you're already a passionate Red Raider, this camp is the place for you,” DeLapp said. “There is nothing quite like the feeling of spreading Red Raider pride with incoming students. Red Raider Camp has proven that to me time and time again. Our staff is made up of the most involved, passionate students on campus. Not only do our counselors benefit the campers, they benefit each other as well.”
A familiar face serving as a counselor this year is former Masked Rider Rachel McLelland, who attended camp last year as the university mascot.
McLelland, a senior from Tijeras, New Mexico, said Red Raider Camp is an important
experience for incoming students as they have the opportunity to learn about the traditions
and see the spirit of Texas Tech.
“Red Raider Camp is an incredible opportunity to learn what makes being a part of the Red Raider family so special,” she said. “They are introduced to our traditions and their storied pasts, and it is so unique and special. Getting to participate in one's own bell circle, learning about the Masked Rider and knowing the chants is a great way to get ready for football season as it is right around the corner.”
The three sessions occur each summer beginning in July through early August. This year's dates are:
- July 31–Aug. 2
- Aug. 4-6
- Aug. 8-10
The registration fee is $200 and must be paid up front. It includes lodging, meals, activities and three camp T-shirts. No refunds are given after July 1. Students can register online via the Red Raider Camp website.
“Ultimately, my advice to students is: have a good attitude, be open and be ready to have a good time,” Altheide said. “You're only an incoming student once, so just know you're going to leave this camp a better prepared student who loves Texas Tech and is excited to move on to the next chapter in life.”
For a list of frequently asked questions about Red Raider Camp, visit its FAQ page.