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OU's Camp Crimson begins registration for first virtual camp amid coronavirus

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Camp Crimson 2020

The flier for the virtual 2020 Camp Crimson.

For the first time in 20 years, OU will convert Camp Crimson into a free, virtual orientation — allowing the incoming class to make connections in an online environment. 

Camp Crimson will be held from June 22 to Aug. 7 in Canvas. New students will be placed in small groups of 20–30 campers based on interest forms filled out during registration, which opens June 2 on OU Bound.

In Canvas, campers will have access to themed modules that highlight topics like academics, involvement and how to succeed at OU. Activities within the modules will include a virtual involvement fair, optional weekly game nights with other students and interactive videos made by offices around campus.

“Each of these (modules) encompasses something different that we felt like we could put a week's worth of information in,” OU’s Assistant Director of Orientation and Transfer Programs Bridgitte Castorino said. “We do, however, hope to see students spend only about one to two hours on the actual information we are providing and spend more time on making connections.” 

In past years, Camp Crimson has been a series of three-day sessions held on campus over multiple weeks in June and July that collectively drew about 2,500 students.

Virtual Camp Crimson will continue to serve as a place for students to interact, both in and out of their small groups. Small groups will meet through Zoom, allowing campers to converse, play games and ask questions regarding the modules or the approaching fall semester.

“We know that people are craving those connections and are eager to meet new people that they’re going to be interacting with during the school year,” Castorino said. “Students are my number one concern — so we will make sure that everyone is happy, healthy and having a good time.”

Although small group leaders will communicate more directly with their groups via Zoom and GroupMe, incoming students will also have access to events outside of their small groups related to their major, interests and involvement. These larger events will serve as a way to connect students who are in potential majors or are interested in similar activities, Castorino said. 

The key theme of virtual Camp Crimson is accessibility. With a minimum time commitment of about 1–2 hours per week, Castorino said campers have the opportunity to tailor their involvement to fit their schedules — allowing them to uniquely benefit from resources offered by Camp Crimson’s staff. 

“I think the coolest part is that students get to build the experience they hope to have,” Castorino said. “You’re going to get out of it what you put into it — but you also have so many opportunities to make connections and platforms to interact with.”

In the past, a week at Camp Crimson served as a valuable resource to incoming students by acquainting them with OU’s campus and the people they will be spending their next four years of life with, Castorino said. In light of these difficult times, Castorino said the transition to online camp will make this resource more available to incoming students. 

“Now campers are going to be in a Canvas course with all of these students … allowing them the opportunity to find even more people to connect with,” Castorino said. “As we’re spending too much time at home, any connection is special and important. We hope to help make those connections accessible to even more people.” 

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