STEPHENVILLE (July 14, 2015) – Duck Camp is the experience of a lifetime for Tarleton’s incoming freshman. It’s a chance to meet their classmates, learn about the different traditions, meet TTMs (Texan Transition Mentors) who want to help them throughout college and have dance parties during every meal. Duck camper Markie Koch summed it up, saying, “Duck Camp was seriously the greatest experience of my life. The spirit that the students and faculty have is amazing. I met friends that I will have for the rest of my life at camp.”
The following is a timeline of my adventures at Duck Camp:
Thursday, July 9
7:00 am- My roommates and I reluctantly rouse to pack our bags and get ready for breakfast. It is too early to be nostalgic that Duck Camp is ending, but I am grateful to know that tonight I will sleep in a room free of spiders and scorpions.
9:00 a.m. – Everyone at breakfast seems more tired than yesterday, which is to be expected. The “Team No Sleep” kids are particularly groggy; I wonder which kid is going to pass out into his waffles first. Luckily there is more than enough strong coffee to go around, and everyone perks up during the morning dancing.
10:15 a.m. – We gather in the gym for one of the last All Camp sessions. By now, everyone knows the chants- we are as enthusiastic as the TTMs. Then we gather for the famous camp photo.
10:45 a.m. – We are divided into our dorm room groups to meet our RLs. Most of the Silver Bugles will live in Legacy Hall so, since I am commuting, I just follow them. Our RLs want us to begin thinking about the compromises we will make with our future roommates. We have an activity where a statement is made, such as “I am a night owl,” and whoever agrees with the statement moves to one side of the room.
I am quickly part of the minority by disagreeing with the night owl statement. Then I am one of about seven students who disagree with the “I like loud music” statement. Those who like loud music make it very clear they do not want to compromise about their music, either. Good thing I am living at home. But, we learn that compromise, though not enjoyable, is necessary and there are both good and bad ways to compromise.
Freshman Madison Morrow said, “It was funny to see how some people were kind of set with what they liked and didn’t like and didn’t want to change and realizing that they would have to. I also liked hearing people defend why they liked a certain thing that was different than what I liked and hearing the solutions they came up with to solve it.”
11:45 a.m. – The Silver Bugles head back to the dining hall for our last meal together. The dining hall does not disappoint; the chicken sandwiches are amazing. I look around and can visibly see the difference between Tuesday and today. We talk in a big group and do not hide behind our cell phones. We bonded in a way I did not think was possible in just three days.
12:45 p.m. – We have our last group time and our last “positive spin,” which is when we spin in a group huddle until someone says to stop and says something positive. I assumed that the positive spin would be lame, but it was one of my favorite parts of camp. Everyone is a bit emotional at this group time; no one is ready to go home. Brad and Ashlee give the Most Spirited Duck Cap to Emilee DeForest and the I-Came-Out-of-My-Shell Inflatable Duck to Audree Casstevens.
Freshman Karah Sicurella said, “The best part of group time was going in a circle and talking about all of the positive things, and then getting to know each and every person that was in both my group and my super group because I love meeting new people.”
1:15 p.m. – All Camp Finale time!! We chant, dance and cheer our way through the next hour and a half. I two step and jump and shout along with the music. Everyone is having as much fun as they can before they load the busses.
Then come the awards. The Silver Bugles and I proudly accept the certificates as winners of the Yell Contest and the Waddle Olympics. We pose for more photos and head outside for the lowering of the flag.
Freshman Madison Cooper said, “The best part of the finale was when we were all dancing as a big group to “Forever Young” and there was a group of TTMs hugging and getting emotional because it was their last camp. It made us all appreciate how much Duck Camp really means to them and how the TTM group is one big family, which has made me and others want to become TTMs.”
2:30 p.m. – We sing the Color Song as the flag lowers. We are not a group of high school graduates anymore; we are freshmen and we are family. We load the busses as students who are ready to take on Tarleton and all of its challenges, whatever those may be. We are ready to take on bigger and better things.
Junior and Silver Bugle TTM Brad Rutherford said, “Oh man, to me this duck camp was so special. I talked about it during camp to the other leaders saying that the planets and stars aligned on this one. The campers were amazing and everything went so amazingly smooth and we all shared the same pride and joy of being a Tarleton Texan! I’ve never in all the camps seen campers express their pride in our school the way they did. It was definitely the right way for me to end my run as a leader and I look forward to seeing them grow as someone who others can look up to and carry on their excitement for Tarleton like I have.”
Duck Camp. We love it!