Jan 16, 2020

College of the Ozarks welcomes new students during Character Camp orientation week

students clean out the foam pit at the Ozark Mountain YMCA
College of the Ozarks students clean out the foam pit at the Ozark Mountain YMCA last week. Incoming students participate in service projects on campus and in the community during the week-long orientation program, Character Camp. (Photo courtesy of Ozark Mountain YMCA)
student organizes files as he participates in his family’s service project.
Aaron Haberman, freshman accounting major, organizes files as he participates in his family’s service project. These projects are intended to cultivate the mindset of giving back to the community.

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — New students at College of the Ozarks experienced a week-long orientation to launch the spring semester last week, Jan. 6-12. The event, called Character Camp, featured times of community service and fellowship.

Character Camp provides an orientation to the College and an introduction to the unique student programs at CofO. The week-long orientation is also designed to develop character in students through guest speakers and workshops.

During the week, 156 incoming students were assigned to one of 16 groups, called “families.” Each family was led by two upperclassman who model the character expected of a C of O student. These “moms and pops” served as leaders and mentors to the “kids” in their families throughout the week. 

“Character Camp has pushed me out of my comfort  zone, and that will challenge me to see things from a different view point. It will help me form relationships when the semester starts,” said Carlos Chena, freshman computer science major.

Character Camp also includes participation in a challenge course, presentations by administrators and alumni, chapel services, and “family” time.

“The really special thing about character camp is getting to know the new students and giving them someone they know and feel comfortable with going into the semester”, said Kandice Riley, junior, public relations major.  “We are building a support system for them ahead of time, so when they go into the hard classes and busy schedules they have their mom, pop, and siblings to lean on and feel more comfortable going into school.”

Throughout this coming semester, the “families” will have three “family reunions” to foster a sense of community and reconnect at different points in the semester. The “moms and pops” encourage and guide the incoming students through their first semester by accompanying them in this new chapter of life. One of these “family” reunions will involve a community service project.

Commitment to Character

On the last day of Character Camp, all the families gather for a special meal called the Honors Induction Etiquette Banquet.

“The banquet provides an opportunity for the College to corporately recognize those students who wrote exceptional essays on ‘Reflections of Christ-like Character,’” said Nick Sharp, dean of students. “The banquet caps off the College’s eight-day orientation program with a keynote presentation, the signing of the Honor Code, and a reading of one of the winning essays.”

The banquet concludes the Character Camp week and is a way to celebrate the start of the semester.

“It is also an opportunity for the ‘families’ to enjoy a culminating event that honors them and welcomes them to the College,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education.

A very special part of the evening is the signing of the honor code, which reads as follows: “I agree to be an honest, trustworthy, caring, and responsible citizen. I will uphold these values in others and myself.”