Tech Campers Transform into Tech Students
The simple letters VT splashed across a hat or a sweatshirt provide a common denominator for the 30,000 students that attend Virginia Tech. But what brings so many people to want to join the Tech family?
It seems that all of the summer camps milling around the campus might have something to do with it. There is a chemistry camp, Governor’s School camp, Commonwealth Lacrosse camp, and jCamp, among others that come and go throughout the summer. There has to be some type of connection here at Tech between these milling groups of people and the college students that go here. Will the campers one day become the students?
Brian Marshall, Stonewall High School (‘13,) a lacrosse camper at Commonwealth Lacrosse camp, does not believe there is a hidden initiative to get people to come to Tech. However, he did want to check out the college prior to his trip, and he was drawn in. He liked the size of the school, but he especially liked the food. Marshall’s camp experience might have drawn him in to play lacrosse here, too. According to Marshall, he wouldn’t get recruited to play college lacrosse, but “If I went here, I would play club,” Marshall said.
Marshall’s friend, classmate and fellow Commonwealth Lacrosse camper, Waskai Viex, said that it would be “awesome” to come to Tech, although he is doubtful his grades will make the cut. But Viex didn’t attribute any of his impressions of Tech to pushiness from coaches. “There’s no pressure [to come here], but they want the best for us. They’re good coaches.”
The lacrosse campers were not the only ones impressed by the food. Michelle Sutherland, Tech (‘14,) and editor in chief of the Collegiate Times, observed that the cafeteria food got noticeably better when the campers came– but the really impressive food, such as lobster, was brought out for freshman orientation.
Liana Bayne, Tech (‘13,) and jCamp co-director, thought along similar lines. “My theory is that the food is like this right now to impress orientation parents. It’s a happy side effect for us.” She adds that there are normally ten dining halls, but only the D2 dining facility is open in the summer. “Bananas foster wouldn’t normally be served in D2, but it would be in other dining halls.” Bayne describes freshman orientation as a “big to-do.”
According to Bayne, jCamp instructors are not supposed to be recruiting students for Tech. “It’s supposed to be a learning experience, not a recruiting one.” Bayne said that when jCampers come to Tech, it is often their first experience at a college. She said that Tech influenced her because it was her first true college experience.
“I got to work with the college students, and I could see myself working with these people that do the job that I do right now. It’s not like anybody was like, ‘come to Tech,’ but I really enjoyed my experience,” Bayne said. “So while we try really actively not to promote Tech, a lot of people end up really liking it.”
Bayne hears a lot of feedback from jCampers, and she said that although a lot of people expect the dorms to be more like hotels, the campers don’t mind once they start making friends.
Kelly Wolff, General Manager of Education Media Co. Of Virginia Tech (EMCVT) said that jCamp isn’t sponsored by Tech, just located on its campus. JCamp uses its rooms, facilities, and the counselors all go Tech, but jCamp is a separate entity.
Wolff said that if you actually want to be a journalist, “Tech isn’t the best place, to be completely honest.”
Wolff said that, while the communications department is changing, adding a new center with TVs, etc., journalism is not a major at Tech. They only have a communications major, with a concentration in journalism. She said the purpose of having jCamp is just to “help the state of student journalism in Virginia.”
Wolff actually recommended Virginia Commonwealth or James Madison University’s journalism programs instead of Tech’s. However, if someone actually wanted a “world class journalism program,” it is probably best to look in other states–places such as Indiana, Penn State, or Iowa State University. Wolff does recognize that some people that know they want to study journalism will come here anyway because of family connections.
Coming back to the infamous food, Wolff said that “the goal of any institution is to put their best foot forward.” She adds that the existence of summer conferences and camps is at least partly for revenue. After school funding policies changed in the 80’s under Reagan and funding went down, not only did tuition go up, but “universities started functioning more like businesses. If you want public institutions, money needs to come from somewhere.”
As for positive feedback, Wolff said that she sees people coming back, “so that seems like a pretty good indication of how they felt the year before.” There isn’t any planned recruiting initiative through camps to come to Tech, but it doesn’t seem like Tech needs any help.