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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Camp Blue

Every amazing journey starts with that first step, and students who attend Camp Blue at the University of Dayton begin their college journey with confidence — and about 100 new friends rooting for their success.

Camp Blue is a one-week leadership and orientation program that welcomes students to campus before classes begin and prepares them for success. It’s an opportunity to learn leadership skills, make connections and friends, and get comfortable in the UD community. And, thanks to 170 donors last spring to the Student Development Fund for Excellence during One Day, One Dayton — UD’s day of giving — more students with financial need received scholarships to participate.

“Camp Blue gives students the opportunity to come to campus without the pressures of classes and finding their way around campus on their own for the first time,” said Noah Chatman, assistant director of student transitions and family programs. “And the students do more than make friends. It’s also a first-year leadership experience where they attend leadership courses and compete in leadership challenges.”

James Brown IV, a first-year student from Canton, Ohio, said the experience helped him find a strong group of people who care and look out for each other.

“I was nervous about going to college, and Camp Blue was a good opportunity to get familiar with campus, move in early and make a few new friends before everyone is flooding onto campus,” said Brown.

After Camp Blue, Brown became a Co-Pilot during his first semester. Co-Pilots is a peer health-coaching organization in which students help other students normalize conversations about emotions, break down stigmas, focus on personal development and promote a healthier lifestyle within the University of Dayton community.  

In addition to learning about leadership styles and opportunities, Camp Blue participants also get into the swing of service at UD. One day during the week, they go out into the Dayton community for different service projects, and at the end of their week, they join the Blue Crew to help the rest of the student body get moved into campus. In effect, Camp Blue attendees become the first-year UD experts for the rest of their class, which can help a lot that first year.

Christopher Taylor, a first-year student from the Atlanta, Georgia area, chose to attend Camp Blue to start school with good connections and good friends while learning about campus. Finding out about campus resources was a smart move.

“One of my craziest experiences that hit me hard was my first quiz in college,” said Taylor. “I completely failed. But one thing Camp Blue taught me is that Dayton has so many resources to help you out and pick you up when you’re down.”

Taylor talked to his professor, who quickly became his favorite, and took advantage of tutoring resources. “I went from having that first failed grade to a 94% in the class,” he said at the end of the semester.

Both Taylor and Brown hope to become Camp Blue counselors next year to help more students experience the same positive start at UD that they had. For Bill Fischer, vice president of Student Development, that’s a true testament to the effectiveness of the programming.

“Gifts to Student Development really help our students thrive — allowing us to augment funding from our budget to support high-impact initiatives and programs,” said Fischer, whose son and daughter both attended Camp Blue before their UD careers. “They both met and established friendships at Camp Blue that they kept for all four years while they were here at UD.”

“Camp Blue scholarships allow more students to participate, and that makes for an incredibly meaningful experience for all students,” said Fischer. “My daughter and son truly had transformational experiences here at the University, and Camp Blue was the first step toward that.”

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