REDMOND, Ore. -

For incoming freshmen, the first day of high school can be a roller coaster of emotions.

"I'm pretty excited," William Nelson of Redmond said Monday.

"I'm pretty excited and nervous," said another student.

Teachers say the change can be a lot to handle.

"I think the transition from middle school to high school is relatively huge. It can be really nerve-wracking," said Elton Gregory Middle School teacher Melissa Develter.

But it doesn't have to be a bad experience. That's where Camp 9 comes in.

Fifty incoming ninth-graders are spending three weeks at camp at both Redmond and Ridgeview high schools, getting accustomed to the world of high school and what it will offer.

"I think this whole Camp 9 program is an opportunity for kids to be acquainted with the physical space of the school," Develter said.

Just knowing how to navigate the hallways can ease a lot of tension for students.

"I'll know the school and some of the teachers already and stuff. So yeah, it's helped a lot," Nelson said.

Funded with a $187,500 Oregon Department of Education grant, students are working on either language arts or math, using iPads in class and at home.

"They're trying to make it so we are learning more using technology," Nelson said.

"It's hugely engaging. They're very excited, and it's right up their alley," Develter said.

Building confidence, comfort and a sense of stability is what the program is all about.

"The whole goal is to make a successful, relational, better first shot at high school," Develter said.

The students are earning half an elective credit for attending Camp 9. They went to Smith Rock last week and later this week, the students will be completing a high and low ropes course to work on confidence and communication.