With the summer in full swing and the school year fast approaching, many incoming Aggies find themselves heading to Lakeview Methodist Camp for Fish Camp, one of Texas A&M’s most recognizable traditions.
Fish Camp also happens to be one of A&M’s largest student organizations, in need of over a thousand students each year to be counselors and staff members. This summer, one of those counselors was not a student—or even officially a counselor at all.
Pierce Grunewald, February 2016 Employee of the Month at the local Freebirds on Texas Avenue, spent an entire weekend at Lakeview mistaken for a Fish Camp counselor.
“It was chill, I guess,” said Grunewald said after returning from the experience. “I saw all of these people screaming and dancing outside some buses. I thought everyone was going to a concert or something, so I got on one. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a concert, but I’m still not really sure what was going on.”
Those buses were heading to Lakeview for Session C, the third Fish Camp session of the summer. Once arrived at Lakeview, Grunewald found himself among the counselors of Session C’s Red camp: Camp Cross.
Despite receiving no training as a counselor prior to attending camp, many incoming freshman were very receptive to Grunewald, impressed by his natural ability to fit right in at Lakeview. Grace Escobar, a freshman biology-major-for-now and Fish Camp attendee, felt like Grunewald made for a great counselor.
“I guess it was the piercings and weird hair, but Pierce really blended in with the other Cross counselors. He taught me a lot about the college lifestyle: where the best places to eat are, what it’s like to find a job in College Station, who to buy drugs from… that kind of stuff.”
Other freshmen similarly expressed the welcoming nature Grunewald created while at camp. “Even though his mohawk wasn’t dyed red, and he only had a total of five facial piercings, I still felt really at ease around him,” said Jake Towsen, a freshman forensic science major. “It was like he was personally calling me to just be myself, simply by maintaining an appearance that would make my dad uncomfortable.”
Unfortunately, not everyone was as thrilled about a non-registered counselor working at Fish Camp. Blake Davis, a counselor in Session C’s green camp—a camp known to be bitter rivals with red—was less than satisfied with Grunewald’s performance.
“Fish Camp counselors have to go to meetings, fill out forms, and complete trainings. You’re not supposed to be able to just walk off of a bus at Lakeview and start mentoring freshman. In fact, I bet his eyebrow was pierced long before coming to camp. He also had real tattoos, which he can’t undo after camp to show his freshmen that we actually do fit hard-lined stereotypes 51 weeks out of the year,” Davis said.
When asked for their opinion on the matter, Camp Cross co-chairs responded by leading a yell, which was made up of the phrase “Red means stop, Green means go! If we were Green, we’d just go home!” No further comment was given.
When asked about how serving as a counselor and mentor has impacted his life, Grunewald said, “the food could have been better, I guess, and the mosh pits were weak, but it was still fun. Sort of.” This statement was met with resounding agreement from the nearby freshmen.
Grunewald has been nominated to be a Fish Camp namesake for next year’s sessions.