First day on campus is an overwhelming experience especially when you’re dropped off out in front of Abbey and there is no one there. I stood with all my stuff for 3 days of camping in the woods. A mixture of my nerves and the summer heat caused me to be extraordinarily sweaty that day and thoughts of being the smelly kid permanently through college flashed through my mind. It was opportunity staring me in the eye and it was handed to me in a gift wrapped box with a tag that read “Pre-Cramp.”
Attending Pre-Camp as a camper was everything I could have asked for and more. I was able to have all my questions about college answered in a span of 3 days. I left East Campus with 70 new friends and a greater appreciation for tradition and what it means to be myself. I learned that a lot of people come to college having experienced many different things and what I bring to the table is no less valuable than anybody else. I’ve accomplished many things in my life, experienced failure and loss, even embarrassment on occasion, but when I’m at East Campus with Pre-Camp it never seems to matter. The best way to describe my experience as a leader and camper at Pre-Camp is through a quote by Chuck Palahniuk,
“We are not special. We are not crap or trash, either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens.”
I think sometimes we polarize what our lives should be and don’t take the time to really enjoy it. We’re so used to comparing ourselves to others and our attachment to electronics and social media seems to grow day by day. Pre-Camp was the vacation no one ever knew they needed until they went to it.
As a leader of two years with the organization I was able to create a solid friend base meeting each new incoming class and seeing how the groups developed over the years. Now many of the students that attended the program have moved on to many different rolls around the campus and I get to see them on a regular basis which is always a pleasant surprise. I did quickly realize though that Pre-Camp did have a looming shadow of being seen as a cult.
If I could clear anything up in this piece about my own experience as a camper, leader, and co-chair. It’s that we are all just friends, really good friends and we don’t exclude anyone from being a part of that friendship. So before you go off and tell your friends how weird we are and how we just try and convert people into the ideal Springfield College student, how ’bout you come meet us and give us a chance? Pre-Camp is an opportunity I wish everyone could experience.
In my final year as co-chair I was able to see the work that it takes to run a program of close to 100 people and how a strong bond with my advisor and my other co-chair — Rhian Duggan — is a necessity when trying to run a fluid program. It was an honor to have been given the opportunity to be a part of a program that changes lives.
My experience isn’t identical to any of my other fellow seniors that are leaving the program this year or than any of the leaders or campers that have attended the program before me. My Pre-Camp experience is mine, it’s special, it made me who I am today, and without it I wouldn’t have the growing number of friends that I am able to say hello to everyday on campus, that I have today.
Green Flames stay strong and know that someone has always got your back.