During a hot and humid summer in 2006, the first ever Panther Camp session was held, hosting 25 eager freshmen.
Since then, Panther Camp has provided thousands of new and transfer students with the opportunity to build relationships, learn about FIU’s traditions, and make the transition to college a smooth and easy one. The extended orientation program continues to grow in popularity and size with 724 freshmen and 130 transfer students attending this summer.
At the brink of its 10-year anniversary, the weekend-long camp has become a tradition for new students at FIU, and now, siblings of Panther Campers are carrying on the tradition as well.
Tyler Borges ’15 attended Panther Camp first as a camper and then again as a facilitator. Seeing how passionate she was about her experience, Borges’ sister Tanner, senior, and brother Preston, freshman, both decided to attend Panther Camp. Tanner later followed her sister’s footsteps and also became a facilitator.
“Panther Camp has given us a common ground because of our experiences,” Tyler says.
“I think it’s pretty cool to know that everything I’m doing, she has done too,” Tanner says. “I like filling her in on how camp was and what stages we were in as we got closer and closer to summer.”
Marc Mobley, assistant director of Orientation and Parent Programs, helps run Panther Camp and is happy to see younger siblings following the path of past facilitators.
“It’s amazing to see how much this program has grown and developed in 10 years,” Mobley says. “When students and their siblings come back as campers and facilitators, it reinforces the impact of this program and reminds us that we must be doing something right!”
Among the Panther Camp families are the Alsonsos – Gabe, sophomore, Marcos ’11, and Alexandra ’12; the Gonzalez family – Talia, sophomore, and Tamara Gonzalez ’15; and the DuBarry siblings – Roberto, senior, Samantha ’14, and Prycilla ’14. The DuBarry trio has been able to build a stronger relationship through their shared experiences.
“Being a facilitator with my sister during the same year made us closer than ever, because we were able to help each other grow, become leaders and have a fun time doing it,” says Prycilla, who was a 2011 Panther Camp facilitator.
Panther Campers and facilitators say the program also allows them opportunities to work on skills like teamwork, public speaking and networking through the various activities offered each session. Students come back to campus with a sense of community, school pride and friendship.
“After camp, you see your campers join Greek Life clubs, become facilitators themselves, and grow as leaders in the FIU community,” said Samantha, 2011 Panther Camp facilitator. “I’ve even seen some of them graduate.”
Sessions at camp stay with students over the years, encouraging them to be in control of their schedules and diligent about classwork.
“Thousands of students have been able to experience the Panther Camp Magic, but more importantly, thousands of students have brought the pride and energy they experience at Panther Camp back to campus to make FIU the best university it can be,” Mobley says.
All of the siblings agree that Panther Camp was a learning experience that helped them find their place at FIU.
“No matter what personality type you are, what your common hobbies include, or how interested you are in FIU, Panther Camp is for you,” Roberto says.
Panther Camp Facilitator applications open October 30, 2015 and are due on November 20, 2015. For more information click here, and watch the video below.