An advantage of going to a small school is that our incoming class is small enough that we had orientation at the Marriott at Ventura beach. We left caltech the Monday morning after convocation- it took 7 buses to fit all of us and the camp counselors. A trip like this probably would not be feasible at a bigger school due to logistics. Our class is about twenty more than last year's, and 264 people fitting into one building made us seem like a big feat.
The hotel was about a five minute walk from the beach; being from Colorado, I spent my time at the beach when we didn't have other activities to do. I thought the trip was structured with the perfect ratio of free time to organized activities. We were divided into groups of seven or eight and led by a UCC (upper class camp counselor). My group got really lucky with our UCC; she was organized, fun, and ran everything smoothly. Each group was assigned a country. Ours was India, and it just so happened that the ethnicity of our UCC was also Indian. A couple of us wanted to be called the spice girls due to the typical flavoring of India's food, but considering the coed group situation the name didn't stick.
The first lecture our group went to was titled study habits. The presenters started with what you would expect: study habits. Oh and the way they went about it was so boring! They talked about the classic how to succeed in school stuff. Then to make it even worse, they gave each group a chemistry set that we were to complete by the end of the talk. I knew that Caltech holds academics to high importance and that's one of the reasons I matriculated, but the first day of frosh camp a set? Come on. Our group started looking at the set and it looked like some kids were thinking about the answer them but I was just confused by the questions. Then, we flipped the paper and on the back it said something like walk as quickly and quietly as you can out of the room to this nearby park. We had little success with this because one of the girls in our group was still on crutches from her ACL surgery. Anyways, we ended up having some sort of scavenger hunt team bonding experience. For one of the activities, we had at least five, we lined up on a log tallest to shortest then had to rearrange ourselves from youngest to oldest.
Also we had to get through 'lasers': string with bells that rang when they were hit. Every ding resulted in 5 jumping jacks, and the goal was to get our team through as fast as possible.
Just like doing things like this one helped loosen up the mood. Eventhough I came for preseason and met a bunch of new people there, I felt overwhelmed with all the new people and shrunk back into my shell a little. Some students met during Prefrosh Weekend, but a good amount of others felt the same way I did; camp helped us out a lot. Well played Caltech - thank you for not lecturing us about study habits. Learning to be more comfortable with our class served us better than a lecture about study habits, which we must be at least decent at already considering it's Caltech.
In the free time we had during the day, most people went to the beach or built boats for racing. I chose to go to the beach, but still got to see the race! If I remember correctly, the Denmark group ended up winning.
At the beach we played a lot of sports like frisbee, volleyball, football, and soccer. The soccer was at times difficult because of the sand, but everything was super fun.
And we didn't look like nerds either, just a bunch of kids having fun. Hopefully we won't let those sets change us.
The first night we had s'mores on the beach, and the second night there was the dance. Luckily, the ballroom dancing club gave us a half an hour lesson on how to step.
Most of the dancing after that was not ballroom though.
Once we arrived back on campus Wednesday morning, we zipped right into our busy schedule of introductory lectures and social events. At any time some house usually has some kind of activity geared towards prefrosh. They are related to Rotation so I won't go into detail about them, but I'm allowed to say that each house has its own flavor and you can see it pretty easily. They are all fine houses, and usually prefrosh fit better into one than the others. By the end of Rotation, all the prefrosh will have eaten dinner and dessert at each of the seven houses, in addition to the optional social events and hangouts. Campus is busy and alive; this is the college life! Until our sets are due...