Tarleton State University makes changes to duck camp amid coronavirus

By: Kaley Dowell

Executive Producer

Tarleton State University’s Duck Camp, where freshman students meet other incoming students for the first time, has been held at a retreat center near Waco for the past few years. At the retreat center students sleep in cabins with their assigned group and can participate in team-building exercises, swimming and even zip-lining. With the spread of the coronavirus, Tarleton has had to rethink how Duck Camp 2020 will work in order to ensure both student and staff safety.

This year, Duck Camp will be held at Tarleton. By doing this, Tarleton is able to better monitor social distancing in two ways.

 Director of New Student Programs Mike Barnette said,“Eliminating the need to pack-in everyone together on buses [and] staying in Residence Halls with private rooms compared to sharing communal cabins with bunk beds.”

Students will also receive masks from the university to wear during the retreat as well as the normal duck camp fanny pack and t-shirt.

Other than a different location, no extra traveling and new sleeping arrangements, Duck Camp will look and feel the same as it has in past years Tarleton officials said. 

“We are excited to offer campers all of the same experiences that those before them have loved about the Duck Camp tradition. We will have Waddle Olympics, small group times, educational sessions, Yell Contest, beating of the drum late into the night and all the chants and cheers they can handle,” Barnette said.

Photo Courtesy of Tarleton.edu
Tarleton students sing the color song.
Photo Courtesy of Tarleton State Duck Camp Facebook page.
Tarleton students sing the color song.

A benefit to having Duck Camp on campus is that it will give incoming students the ability to learn the layout of campus since most of them were not able to visit for orientation due to the coronavirus. Students will also get the chance to practice beating the drum in the same location the drum is placed during homecoming week as well as have the opportunity to move in some of their belongings for the fall semester. 

Barnette said, “Freshmen [will] move-in items early for their fall residence hall space. In order to help with social distancing on big move-in weekend.Residence Life will be assigning move-in times for Duck Campers the morning of Duck Camp check-in. That will allow them to move-in their items they need for the fall in the morning and then start Duck Camp in the afternoon… Students will not stay in their fall spaces during Duck Camp. They will take “Move-In Items” to their fall residence hall and then bring Duck Camp luggage to check-in for that event. All Campers will stay together in designated upperclassmen residence halls as opposed to being spread all over campus in their fall-assigned freshman spaces.”

Duck Camp is a great place to meet other freshmen and begin making life-long friendships. It is specifically designed to help freshmen connect with peers, student leaders, faculty and staff as well as develop a love for Tarleton and its many traditions. 

Barette said, “If someone is hesitant, I would also encourage them with some wise words from a great Duck Camp leader: ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ ”

Dates for this year’s Duck Camps are July 21-23, July 28-30, August 3-5 and August 9-11. Currently, all spots are filled for Duck Camps 2 and 3 (July 28-30 and August 3-5). Students can still register for Duck Camps 1 and 4 (July 21-23 and August 9-11). To register go to https://www.tarleton.edu/orientation/duckcamp.html.

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