Stuyvesant Hosts In-Person Camp Stuy for Freshmen and Sophomores

Stuyvesant hosted a delayed in-person Camp Stuy for both freshmen and sophomores, as well as a Camp Stuy for parents of incoming students.

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By Zifei Zhao

Stuyvesant hosted a modified and in-person Camp Stuy to accommodate for COVID-19 health guidelines. Camp Stuy ran from August 31 to September 3 for freshmen, sophomores, and parents of incoming freshman students.

Traditionally, Camp Stuy is held in two sessions. The first occurs in June to administer placement tests, while the second in August provides bonding time for incoming students. The school administered Camp Stuy for the 2020-2021 school year virtually, preventing last year’s incoming freshmen from acclimating to the school building.

This year, Camp Stuy was held in person over four days, with four-hour-long morning and afternoon sessions each day for freshmen and sophomores separately and with two sessions for parents of incoming students on the last day. Summer programs, including the Discovery Program and Summer Rising, were held at Stuyvesant throughout July this year, postponing the in-person Camp Stuy. Due to the pandemic, COVID-19 health guidelines were enforced through masking, social distancing, and separate tour paths.

Though Camp Stuy was significantly shortened, the event allowed students to attend an information session in the theater, participate in homeroom tours, meet with Big Sibs and guidance counselors, and get ID pictures taken. Unlike incoming freshmen, sophomores were exempted from the swim test. Placement processes for advanced freshmen classes were altered and exams were not administered this year during Camp Stuy.

Many incoming freshmen and sophomores were glad to have an in-person Camp Stuy after a period of uncertainty. “We [had] been talking about Camp Stuy on Facebook, Discord, and Instagram. [...] We didn’t know [...] whether the current situations of the pandemic would allow us to hold this event in-person,” sophomore Mason Ng said. “However, it was then confirmed that Camp Stuy would be starting these few days and I was really excited.”

Since sophomores participated in Camp Stuy virtually last year, several expressed eagerness in congregating at the school building. “Last year’s was really small, and nothing too important happened, [so] seeing my classmates, going in-person, and seeing the tour of the school was definitely a great experience,” sophomore Dawson Carlisle said.

For many students, this event was also their first time entering the Stuyvesant building and meeting other students. “It was my first time going in-person to be with a lot of kids,” freshman Malka Lubelski said. “I was really excited to go into the school and see what the school looks like, the classrooms, and the people I’m going to be with for the next four years.”

Many expressed that the in-person spirit fostered a positive experience. “My expectations were that a lot of [Camp Stuy] would be really boring since it would be getting our student ID pictures and a tour of the school. I was also expecting the other sophomores to be very quiet and not want to talk or interact, but luckily everyone was quite vocal,” sophomore Eden DiLella said in an e-mail interview.

Big Sibs also expressed enthusiasm about being able to interact with other students after being physically isolated for more than a year. “My favorite part of Camp Stuy was meeting my Little Sibs,” junior and Big Sib Lianne Ohayon said in an e-mail interview. “After a crazy remote learning experience, to be back in the building with people was super fun and a rewarding experience.”

However, both the time crunch and COVID-19 regulations caused the omission of important components of Camp Stuy, such as the Big Sib and Little Sib picnic. “When I came to Camp Stuy, I remember having so much extra time and a large emphasis on homeroom bonding. This time, everything was straight to the point. We covered everything we had to, but nothing more,” junior and Big Sib Isabella Chow said in an e-mail interview.

There were also scheduling difficulties and uncertainties on the first day in estimating the time allotted to each activity, such as ensuring that COVID protocols were followed and enough time was spent within homerooms. “For future Camp Stuys, we really do need to figure out how to balance the time that they take for the swim test versus the amount of time that they take for the IDs, versus the amount of time that they take for homeroom and tours,” senior and Big Sib Chair Alec Shafran said.

Still, the Big Sib Chairs tried to preserve some significant features of a typical Camp Stuy. “Usually at Camp Stuy, just when freshmen walk through the doors, they see all their Big Sibs clapping for them, holding up a sign with their homeroom on it, and we really tried to emulate that in the best way possible [...] with social distancing protocols,” senior and Big Sib Chair Aaron Wang said.

As Stuyvesant prepares to transition to full in-person learning, holding Camp Stuy in-person was a first step in returning to a sense of normalcy. “Despite the year and a half of COVID, the Big Sibs and Little Sibs were able to come together, laugh, walk around the tours, lead tours, talk about different areas of the school building as if they were just here a day ago, as if they weren’t attending a year and a half of classes at their desks,” senior and Big Sib Chair Samuel Espinal Jr. said.

Staff members also emphasized the importance of Camp Stuy to help students acclimate to the environment. “I have to say how wonderful it is to see the students arriving at the beginning of their Camp Stuy day, being quiet, looking nervous, and then see them exiting their day, laughing with new friends, and walking with a different swagger. That’s when we know this is an integral program for our incoming students and one we are pleased to have offered this year,” Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services Casey Pedrick said in an e-mail interview.

Along with addressing safety concerns, the revised format of Camp Stuy could also carry over for future years. “Something that could influence the future Big Sib Chairs when they’re planning Camp Stuy [is] if it’s possible to spread out the days and spread out when homerooms are coming instead of one day [when] 800 students come in all at once into the school,” senior and Big Sib Chair Syeda Zahan said.

With the return to in-person school, the Big Sib Chairs hope that Camp Stuy left an impression on the Little Sibs. “Hopefully, they’ll remember just how important or how influential their Camp Stuy was even amidst a pandemic. And they will try to carry over those values of hospitality and just welcoming their enthusiasm to the next generation of incoming students,” Wang said.