Dawg Camp helps students find their place at UGA 

With more than 40,000 students, the University of Georgia offers numerous opportunities to connect and become a part of many communities. UGA boasts thousands of programs, more than 800 student organizations, and daily events. Facing these options, students might become overwhelmed with choice, which is where UGA Student Affairs’ Department of Student Transitions steps in.  

Student Transitions creates transformative experiences that foster a sense of belonging and support the unique needs of all UGA students, regardless of their backgrounds or current milestone in their collegiate journey. From customized experiences like 1-to-1 peer mentoring to large initiatives like Welcome UGA, Student Transitions supports students as they navigate all that campus has to offer. 

One of their programs, Dawg Camp, has become a cornerstone of many students’ UGA experience, helping new students adjust to college life. With a rich history and inclusive approach, Dawg Camp connects students to each other and to university resources and services. 

The program includes five separate camps. Each camp embodies a different theme– from outdoorsy Dawg Camp Adventure to inventive, exploratory Dawg Camp Innovate– allowing students to select the experience that resonates with their interests.  

New students get to know Dawg Camp counselors, who are experienced UGA students who share their joys and challenges as a student and how they overcame obstacles, adjusted to living in a new city, and made their own path on campus.  

At Dawg Camp Discovery, traditional activities include Dawg Camp Olympics, cheer wars, and the legendary shaving cream fight. Similarly, Dawg Camp Adventure conducts a bracelet ceremony, commemorating the experiences and memories of the trip, and the unity formed among the new students as a result. What at first glance may seem like “simple fun” is in fact an intentional exercise in community building. Nicole McConnell, director of Student Transitions, said many students say they could not imagine their UGA experience without starting at Dawg Camp. 

“Our tagline is, ‘It’s the place to be’,” said McConnell. “Our staff and students counselors strive to make every student feel welcomed. Many students leave Dawg Camp feeling like they have found their place and people at UGA.” 

Additionally, Dawg Camp Discovery has six UGA staff or faculty members that serve as ‘namesakes.” Each namesake acts as a resource, mentor, and contact for new students as they navigate their first semester at UGA, and students are able to engage directly with a staff or faculty member from the very beginning of their UGA experience.  

By the time Dawg Camp participants move into their residence hall in August, they have already established friendships and feel like they belong on campus.  

“Dawg Camp allowed me to meet new people that I have been able to create strong friendships with,” said one participant. “After going, I learned that most people are looking for new friends just like I am, and that it is okay to be yourself! I cannot imagine how different my transition from high school to college would have been without Dawg Camp.”  

For more information, visit Student Transitions to learn more.