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Baylor Line Camp Imparts Community Service Value to Students

July 25, 2011

The "Baylor Bubble" has long been a term used to describe students whose awareness of the greater Waco area extends very little beyond the campus and their favorite restaurants and stores. But more and more students are defying the notion of the Baylor bubble, and the university is working to involve them in community service before they even get to campus. Jonathan Wilson is the summer meals specialist for the Texas Hunger Initiative.

He's talking about the Baylor Line Camp, a sort of extended orientation for students who decide on their own to come learn more about Baylor traditions and culture, participating in week-long campus with their fellow incoming students. But they are going far beyond learning the "Sic 'em" hand motion or the stories behind the names on campus buildings. Erin Payseur, the associate director of leader development and civic engagement, organized a service project with the Texas Hunger Initiative designed to get them to think about community needs as a key part of their college experience.

Over 1000 students learned that lesson throughout the Baylor Line Camps, passing out fliers designed to let eligible families know of the Summer Food Service program that provides free breakfasts and lunches for students eligible for reduced lunch. It's a program that fights food insecurity, but is only as effective as awareness of it allows it to be.

Including students in the service project is a project with multiple outcomes. It meets the needs of the Texas Hunger Initiative, as 1000 students can cover a lot more ground than the 15 people who did similar walks last summer. But it also plants the seeds of service in the minds of students, introducing them to a side of Waco that the busyness of a freshmen year can sometimes hide. Landon Wilson is an incoming freshman from Abilene.

The camp not only demystified service opportunities, but said soon-to-be Baylor's students, Cynthia Mahesh and Emily Larson, it made it less intimidating as well.

The camp has one more week for a new set of students. But, says Jonathan Wilson of the Texas Hunger Initiative, it can have a lasting impact in opening students' eyes to the needs in this community. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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