I went to First Year Camp, and you should too

 UTSoC's First Year Camp 2017

UTSoC's First Year Camp 2017

I remember joining UTSoC on O'Day this time last year. I didn’t know anyone; I spent a majority of the day wandering around the Tower Building with a backpack full of freebies and flyers, and then, at the UTSoC stall, I was met with really friendly faces.


“You’ve gotta go to First Year Camp,” one of them said, “it’s in April.”

“It’s how we met,” his friend said, and I nodded, not thinking too much of it at the time. Over the weeks that followed, and after going to Welcome Back Drinks and being gradually convinced by wheedling Facebook posts, I bought a ticket. I’d make new friends! I’d make brilliant memories! It was going to be great! Truly, it was a strong sense of #FOMO that got me to buy a ticket in the end, threaded with cynicism but also hope, that maybe I would actually make new friends and brilliant memories.

 2017's Team Orange

2017's Team Orange

Arriving home from camp on the Sunday afternoon, my sister asked me how my weekend was. I remember launching into an enthused monologue about how great it had been and how I’d met an amazing group of people. When my mum, dad and other sister asked, I did the same, and spared almost no detail. It was like squeezing an orange and getting every last drop.

We were put into teams for the weekend. From the get-go, there was this feeling of mutual easygoingness amongst everyone there. Team Orange — we got along immediately. We were all super competitive but equally self-deprecating. Our conversations usually swung between, “Wait, how many points are we on?”, and, “Damn, orange sucks. It’s not even a real colour.” We had Trivia Night, which involved egg and spoon races, planking and pick-up lines: namely the still unforgettable, “Are you Medusa? Because you make me rock hard.” We had a campfire and danced on the beach. We wore our clothes backwards to breakfast, played soccer, dodgeball and capture the flag. We did a tonne of challenges, like making a human pyramid and building a sandcastle in an amazing race.

 One of the many challenges - a sing-off. 

One of the many challenges - a sing-off. 

A year later, it was O'Day again. This time I was behind the UTSoC stall. Around me were the friends I’d met, first, on camp. It was the same deal — you smile at the first years as they approach, ask them what they’re studying — and you asked if they’ve heard about First Year Camp.

“It's pretty much the reason that I have a social life at uni,” I laughed, and said more times than I could count. But it was the utter truth. “Like, that’s how I met all these guys.”

I was exactly the same first year that you are now. I wanted to make friends and have that incredible university experience that seems slightly out of reach, a little too idealised. And I’m here to tell you that buying a ticket to First Year Camp is the ticket to that too-good-to-be-true circle of friends. The good thing about camp is that everyone’s in the same boat: everyone’s as excited and (maybe) nervous about meeting new people as you are, and everyone’s there to change that. After camp I remember feeling like I was part of a community, and uni had hardly even started yet!

Whether I was chatting over a coffee or sitting on the beach, so many moments at camp contributed to this greater feeling that I was becoming part of the fabric of life at UTS. That’s definitely more than I expected at the time!

So trust me on this — I promise it’s as good as everyone keeps telling you it is.

Tara Wesson is a second-year Journalism and Creative Writing student. She likes long walks on the beach, piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain. But no, she's really just a book-lover with a dog called Shorty, a love of travel, and a penchant for dad jokes.