Camp activities teach teamwork to incoming GSBS students

After a few minutes of twisting, twirling and unlocking limbs, the six students of Team Green credited good communication skills with helping them unwind from a human knot in record time.

"It does help you get to know people," incoming Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student Thomas Mock said of the exercise. "And it’s more engaging than sitting in the Center for BioHealth all day."

That’s exactly the reaction organizers were hoping for when they planned the GSBS orientation at YMCA Camp Carter, complete with a cook out, smores and swimming.  The three-day orientation mixed fun with facts to ease anxiety and prepare students for the challenges of graduate school.

During the camp, students hear about lab rotations, procedures and policies, but they also learn to support each other, said Carla Lee Johnson, Director of GSBS Admissions and Services.

"It’s hot, sweaty and smells like Off here," she said. "But it gives the students a chance to bond."

This is the second year GSBS has offered the camp, which is the brainchild of former Dean Jamboor Vishwanatha.  This year’s orientation attracted 30 students who stayed overnight in cabins and faced a full schedule of outdoor activities.

Students got advice on selecting a mentor, meeting deadlines and arranging their lab rotation. They also participated in team-building exercises, watched a movie and gathered around the camp fire.

The orientation is a way to prepare students for what graduate school is all about, said GSBS Dean Meharvan Singh, PhD.

"It equips them with the necessary information and tools they need to be successful," he said.

Students walk away knowing they will face real challenges in graduate school, but they have the support here to help them, Johnson said.

"Graduate school is hard," she said. "But they can do it."

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