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Camp Solera welcomes freshmen to West campus

student talking during Camp Solera

Incoming freshmen Asher Cota (left) and Marco Hipolito, both global business management majors, get to know the ASU West campus at Camp Solera.

August 17, 2015

Editor's note: As ASU gears up for the start of classes this week, our reporters are spotlighting scenes around its campuses. To read more, click here.

The La Sala Ballroom is abuzz with chatter and movement Monday when suddenly, a booming voice calls out, “W-E!”

Without hesitation, the chatter stops and a chorus of freshmen shout back in unison, “S-T!”

The rallying cry, as it turns out, is how Sean Wiseman – the source of the booming voice – calls the students participating in Camp Solera to attention.

The camp, specifically created for freshmen at Arizona State University’s West campus, is a three-day experience designed to build class unity through group challenges, introduce students to university and campus resources and give the newest members of the Sun Devil family a sneak peek into ASU traditions, according to Sharon Smith, dean of students at the West campus.

“Ultimately, we want them all to feel welcome and connected to each other,” adds Wiseman, assistant dean of student affairs at the West campus and managing director of student engagement for Camp Solera. “Coming to ASU for the first time can be a big deal, so this camp helps them feel more like a part of the community.”

Launched in 2009, the camp features a variety of team- and service-oriented activities, something Smith points out jibes very well with ASU’s dedication to social embeddedness.

Incoming freshman Asher Cota, majoring in global business management, particularly enjoyed the team-building cardboard boat race at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex’s pool.

Belinda Williams, a forensics major from Nebraska, and Nicole Floda, a political science major, spent the morning at a nearby elementary school helping out with the landscaping. Both have enjoyed their time at camp but are eager for classes to begin. Camp Solera was wrapping up Monday.

“I’m ready to see what college is all about,” Williams says.

Before that, though, they’ll be participating in what Wiseman calls the “culminating event” of Camp Solera: the Golden Tradition.

During the event, freshmen pass through the hallowed Paley Gates at the entrance of West campus. In four years, when they graduate, they will pass through the gates again — this time on their way toward their future.