New Student Weekend promotes bondingNew Student Weekend promotes bonding

Emily Babcock

Jane Canney, associate vice president for student development and athletics, met her husband at New Student Weekend when they were both camp counselors.
Four years later they were married — and have been for 22 years.
Begun in the 1950s, the new student program, designed to introduce new students to different resources and people at the University, has provided a special network for its facilitators.
“It’s kind of a quiet tradition, but it’s definitely around,” said LeeAnn Milen, director of New Student Programs, who attended the camp as a new student in 1985 and later became a counselor.
Milen said Canney’s story is just one of many personal touches the program has given to its volunteers.
New Student Weekend operates as part of the New Student Programs Office in Coffman Union. At the end of each summer, about 140 counselors lead two weekends at four separate camps for incoming freshman. The counselors are trained for the weekend by about 20 co-chairs, who are managed by two coordinators.
Although students choose to join the program for many reasons, many like to stay in touch after their volunteer experiences are over. Some, like Canney, have fallen in love with their fellow volunteers.
“The bonds that you make are different than any other friends I’ve known,” said Amanda Stickler, New Student Weekend co-chair and College of Liberal Arts junior.
She said last week a freshman from the camp, at which Stickler was a counselor last year, came up to her and told her how excited he was to apply to be a counselor.
“I had a small part in making his life at the University exciting,” she said.
Co-chair Tera Klinger, a CLA senior, said she purposely didn’t graduate so she could stay with New Student Weekend.
“It is like a home away from home,” Klinger said.
But Tex Ostvig, the program’s assistant director, said the program’s top goal is for the counselors to have the new students walk away from the weekend knowing they are not alone.
He added that the weekend also focuses on teaching new students about campus life, leadership, academics and diversity.
Counselors will be trained by co-chairs on the aforementioned areas beginning spring quarter. Applications for the fall 1998 counselor positions are due Feb. 13.
Counselor applicants are expected to have had full-time student status for the 1997-98 school year as well as through fall 1998. There are no other requirements for the position.
“It’s not jumping into a leadership role — you are learning all the time,” said Mike Kokkinen, a former counselor who works in the New Student Programs Office and a junior in the Institute of Technology.
“There is no mold. The diversity is huge,” said Elaine Yacoub, one of the weekend’s two student coordinators and a CLA senior.
Dave Sayers, program coordinator and an IT senior, said the stereotype of the energetic extravert facilitating freshman doesn’t always exist at the camp.
“A lot of people think they need to be bubbly, but we really have all types of people working with us,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet other students, and give them what the U has to offer, but above all they have fun,” said Ostvig. “These students have so much fun.”