Zip Line to College
Cole Christie, business management major, organizes Camp Matador — an event that prepares incoming freshmen for their first semesters at California State University, Northridge.
The loud chants of more than 80 first-time freshmen echo through the sunlit cabins, recreation area, trees and mountains of Ponderosa Pines Camp in Lake Arrowhead, California.
“Who are we? Matadors!” the lively crowd shouts at the top of their lungs.
The freshmen are excited to start their first semesters at CSUN in the upcoming week and the chant marks the last group activity for Camp Matador — a three-day, two-night summer camp for freshmen who are enrolled in the fall semester.
Camp Matador is a high-school-to-college transitional event. Students zip line, swim and play games while learning about Matador culture from current CSUN students like Cole.
Experiencing the students’ genuine enthusiasm to become part of the Matador community is an important accomplishment for Cole, Camp Matador’s head student staff.
“I really wish I had Camp Matador when I was a freshman and it’s one of the reasons I’ve been working on this project for almost four years,” Cole says. “Feeling a connection to campus helps [new and current students] in many ways, like boosting graduation rates.”
The first day of Camp Matador is full of group activities such as a hike, starting a campfire, looking at stars and directing a group performance. Past students have danced, sung and reenacted Saturday Night Live comedy skits.
The second day consists of zip lining, tug of war, water balloon tosses, riding down an 80-foot water slide and many more activities. During the evening, students sit around a campfire and talk about college and future plans.
The last day is a wrap up and students follow CSUN’s tradition of the rose — placing a rose near the Matador statue to commemorate their accomplishments, struggles or changes in their lives.
Throughout the three days, Cole oversees the camp counselors and facilitators but also watches students become more comfortable in their new environment.
“Counselors put a lot in to Camp Matador. The growth they see in their students in just one day is outstanding,” Cole says.
Counselors encourage students to develop friendships and engage with CSUN after camp. This year, they are giving away Matador Athletics and Associated Students Big Show tickets.
Incoming freshmen may register for camp starting Friday, May 1, through the Student Recreation Center website on a first-come, first-served basis. Camp Matador will take place on Friday, Aug. 14. Students pay a $140 fee that includes six meals, transportation, lodging and a Camp Matador T-shirt. For registration instructions and more information, visit the Camp Matador website.