Camp Daisy Returns for Second Year

Students weigh in on the freshman advisory program’s changes

For the second year, Camp Daisy, the freshman advisory program, has returned to the Upper School to guide freshmen through their first month as Upper School students.

The program was designed to introduce new and old students to each other and prepare them for Mo Ranch, the retreat for the freshman class, which takes place in the beginning of September every year.

“The idea was really born out of suggestions we got from new students about how alone they felt as new students, and how they were looking for a way to integrate into the class,” said Meshea Matthews, Dean of Student Life.

Another main feature of the program is that it acts as “a way to introduce the girls to the Upper School,” said Joni Palmer, Form I Dean.

“Everyone said that they felt new together—both returning and new students,” said Matthews. “[The freshmen] are all new to the Upper School, and we really wanted to create an orientation for freshmen that welcomed them into Upper School together.”

To do this, an objective for the freshman class this year was to learn about the the Upper School advisors and “meet the adults who will be working closely with them,”  Palmer said.

After the Mo Ranch retreat, the freshmen were assigned their advisors, with whom they will theoretically stay with for their  four years of Upper School.

Camp Daisy sessions occurred during each advisory period leading up to the freshman Mo Ranch retreat. For 20 minutes each day, the girls in their groups met with an advisor and got to know them with conversations initiated with “icebreaker” questions.

During the sessions, students, old and new, were mixed together in their Mo Ranch groups and visited the different advisors with them.

“It was another way to find out more about people [you hadn’t met before] and know your Mo Ranch group really well,” sophomore Sadie Lidji said.

Freshman Ellie Pfeiffer agreed.

“It’s been fun, meeting new people, and getting to know people better. It’s also been nice to be mixed up, because otherwise we would just stay with our friend groups,” Pfeiffer said.

Although most freshmen and sophomores have enjoyed the Camp Daisy program, they agreed that some work is needed to improve the program for future freshmen.

Both grades recognized that the time in advisory before the retreat was not enough time to get to know the advisors.

Due to time restrictions, girls frequently met with two advisors during their advisory period. “You don’t get to know them that well. Usually we go around in a circle to answer the questions and by the time we finish, time is already up,” Pfeiffer said.

In the past, Upper School students were assigned advisors when they entered freshman year. Now, with Camp Daisy, students are assigned to an advisory in mid-September, almost a month after the first day of school.

This year, the freshman were randomly assigned advisors when they returned from Mo Ranch, after completing a brief survey about Camp Daisy and the advisors. However, some would have liked to have more input in the process.

“I thought it would be better if we could request certain advisors,” said freshman Sarah Siddiqui.

In contrast, some students felt that having an assigned advisor at the beginning of the school year would relieve them of the stress of choosing one.

“Before, I really liked getting my advisory because it took off the stress of who you were going to be with. Also you don’t really have anyone to go to, as an advisor,” Pfeiffer said. “I think that’s important in your first few weeks of starting school.”

“It is kind of frustrating to not have an advisor for so long,” Lidji said, regarding the first month that freshmen did not have advisors.“Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would rather have an assigned advisory.”

In addition, Lidji felt that the icebreaker questions asked at the beginning at the advisory sessions were more “geared towards the students, as opposed to getting to know the advisors better.”

Although data was not available, according to Matthews, the numbers of freshmen switching advisories from last year has remained consistent with previous years, even with the Camp Daisy focus to introduce the girls to the advisors. However, she said this is not a result of Camp Daisy itself.

“I think freshmen tend to move around the most…we still have to account for the freshman still finding their way through Upper School and finding a good advisor for themselves,” Matthews said.

For now, Camp Daisy seems to be a fixture for the freshman advisories for years to come and Matthews will continue to review the advisory retention rates yearly.

Because the camp is only a year old, Matthews and Palmer are constantly receiving feedback and looking for ways to improve the program. However, the success of Camp Daisy ultimately comes down to the students.

“I think the experience is what you’re going of make of it,” Matthews said. “We can create as many programs and opportunities for students, but if you go into it with an ‘I want this experience’ mindset, you’ll find a reason to be happy about it.”

-Sunila Steephen

with additional reporting by Austria Arnold