Welcome to Notre Dame: A Summer Camp Surprise

Author: Meghan Cappitelli

For those who have experienced the hellscape that is Welcome Weekend, no explanation is necessary. For those who haven’t, no explanation will suffice. An attempt to do so, however, can and will be made.

Picture this: The sun is setting. Unfamiliar upperclassmen order you to begin chanting the words to a pop song with altered lyrics. It is an ode of slight exaltation to the dorm in which you now live, your “new home under the dome,” as they put it. Singing alone is not an adequate form of dorm worship. “Dance,” they order you. The large group of 18-year-old girls complies, singing pitchily and dancing clumsily. It is in this moment that you realize Notre Dame runs their orientation as a full-blown summer camp.

The subsequent 48 hours include all your staple camp activities — arts and crafts, s’mores, Bingo, Duck, Duck, Goose and even a scavenger hunt during which one girl gets pooped on by a bird. Meal time consists of trying to navigate the overcrowded and daunting dining halls. Anxiety- ridden about the prospect of standing in line while everyone watches you browse the mystery selections of South Dining Hall, you eat bread rolls and french fries for three consecutive days. You finally muster up the courage to stand in line for meatballs, but are unable to locate the forks. The only viable option seems to be to consume the meatballs with your hands. Yum.

Like all good summer camps, there is a culminating event, a last hurrah before the thin wall between childish tomfoolery and hardcore adulting is torn down, and you plunge into yet another September of learning. One word, two thousand awkward freshman: Domerfest. The clock strikes 10:30 p.m. Next thing you know, you’re in the heart of the mosh pit, swaying to the DJ’s outdated selections next to people who know only your first name, hometown, major and, of course, dorm. You want out, but it’s too late.