CavCamp: Introducing the IB Class of 2023 to Gables


IB Theater teacher Ms. Barrow coaches campers representing Germany on their skit during CavsCamp.

From June 10 through June 14, the International Baccalaureate Honor Society (IBHS) hosted the tenth annual “CavCamp”, a week-long summer camp intended to introduce IB freshmen to the high school atmosphere through a broad variety of engaging bonding activities and projects. Organized by the IBHS sponsor, Mrs. Noval, and the club’s co-presidents, seniors Kylie Coulombe and Jesse Zambrano, this year’s edition of CavCamp for the eventual graduating IB class of 2023 is being regarded as the greatest one to date.

As was the case in the previous two years, this year’s CavCamp theme was “Countries and Cultural Focuses”. For the events of this year’s camp, there were a total of eight countries or cultural focuses being represented: Latin America, Great Britain, Africa, Australia, South Asia, East Asia, Italy, and Germany. While CavCamp did not officially begin until the first Monday after the school year had concluded, the Student Group Leaders (SGLs) and Teacher’s Assistants (TA) worked intensively beforehand to theme their homeroom class doors and their tables in the new cafeteria, where all the freshmen gathered every morning for attendance.

During the first day of CavCamp, the freshmen were all assigned to the group that they would be spending the entirety of the week with. While many faces were unfamiliar to the recently-graduated middle schoolers, they were instantly made to feel right at home with the welcoming preparations made by the SGLs, which included breakfast foods, snacks, sweet treats, name tags, and the fluorescent and colorful themed decorations set up for each table. While somewhat of an overwhelming experience at first, the freshmen devised a group chant, serving as a morale booster, that would be sung prior to homeroom dismissal every morning.

Throughout the remainder of the first day, the freshmen would follow a typical high school schedule, spending a brief amount of time with several teachers during the day and walking from class to class with their peers. While in their classes, the teachers engaged the students in a series of icebreakers to create an energetic, comfortable, and participatory atmosphere.

“I think the teachers do a really great job of making the freshmen feel welcome at Gables. They all come to CavCamp kind of nervous and scared, especially if they are placed in a group where they don’t know many people, so having so many nice and helpful teachers is a really great thing to have for them,” senior Rodney Michel said.

However, there was also a strong emphasis placed on the variety of CavCamp competitions that would be held during the last day of CavCamp, including the bottle rocket launches hosted by Mr. Molina, the artistic and creative skits organized by Ms. Barrow, and the humorously themed videos filmed by Mr. De Armas. Throughout the rest of the first day, brainstorming for these competitions would begin and continue through most of the second day, which ended with a tour of the school.

“My favorite part of CavsCamp was the tour of the school because I got to see where all my classes would be… I love that I got to know the school more so I can have a smooth first day,” freshman Alyssa Acosta said.

Day three of CavCamp brought time for Campers to start filling and decorating their time capsules – at the end of the week, the ornate jars were stored in IBHS sponsor Ms. Noval’s room, where they will remain untouched until the class of 2023 IB senior Brunch. Then, the graduating seniors will reopen them and reexamine the contents, which include letters the freshman wrote to their senior selves, photos, and mementos from CavsCamp.

The incoming cavaliers also used this day to prepare their “artifact,” an object that reflects the contributions their culture of focus has made to the world in the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). Each group presented their artifacts to the CavCamp judges on the final day of the program, along with an explanation of their area’s global STEAM contributions.

The third day closed with an especially useful activity for the incoming freshmen – a scavenger hunt. Armed with a list of clues, the campers dashed around the campus of Coral Gables High, eagerly snapping photos in front of each location. With fierce competition between groups, excitement was in the air as the incoming freshman tested their knowledge of their home for the next four years and worked together to find the object of each clue.

In the morning, each group narrowed their focus and worked on polishing their skits for friday’s performance, with the help of IB theater instructor Ms. Barrow. They continued to plan the details of their plays and decorate props, as well as record the iconic CavCamp videos that will also be shown during the 2023 IB senior brunch.

The final hour of day four was dedicated to the wide variety of clubs, sports, and extracurriculars that Gables has to offer. With the campers congregated in the auditorium, CavCamp counselors took turns giving short presentations on their involvement on campus in areas ranging from Bowling team to National Spanish Honor Society to Gables Paradigm. Though Club Day at Cavcamp is just a small taste of all the student-run activities that take place on campus after hours, it allowed incoming students to see that there is a place for everyone at Gables.

The much-anticipated final day of CavCamp 2019 was kicked off in the new cafeteria with a delicious breakfast for the campers and counselors, featuring four delicious types of sugary cereal.

After a few hours of final preparations, each group gave their performances – which included the skit, video, and artifact explanation – to the class of rising freshman. Spirits reached a week-long high as the class of 2023 came alive on stage, singing, dancing and acting with enthusiasm.

After over two hours, the group of Gables alumni who served as the Cavcamp judges named Italy the winner of this year’s program for their comical rendition of “the Bachelorette,” unique video, and impressive artifact that resembled the leaning tower of Pisa to signify the structure’s contribution to architectural studies.

Regardless of the winner, the rising freshman class will return to Gables in the fall more ready than ever to take on a challenging year. In a large school that can be initially overwhelming to freshmen, CavCamp is an introduction to the tight-knit IB community and the friendships that they will make over their years in the program.

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