Geek Camp 2007
What an awesome fortnight. Fantastic, exhausting, tiring, loads of fun. “Geek Camp” is, at best, a misnomer, but we called it that anyway. There was not a single dull moment in the entire forum. From the intense volleyball competitions to the glow-in-the-dark emos at the disco to the punishments of singing “I’m a Barbie Girl” in front of the entire forum for being late, and not to mention, the academic (sciences and technology) programme, Geek Camp—formally known as the Rotary National Science and Technology Forum—never fell short of excitement. It only failed to bore.
Interestingly, having left Geek Camp, it is the non-academic memories that prevail in my mind. There was, of course, volleyball competition (my group came fourth of six, thanks in part to some dodgy line calls), which in two weeks exhibited more team spirit than all the houses at my school combined have in four years. There were the forum meetings, where all 156 of us would squash into that room (in the senior advisor’s words, “shuffle back until you hit someone, and then shuffle a bit further… if you see someone you like, go sit next to them”), and those fine acts of stupidity would harness “fines” for those involved (and we call ourselves “smart”). Oh, and the Australians say “six” funny: each of us were assigned a number within our groups to check attendance with; we’d just call our number in turn, so we heard a lot of it.
We had fun and we bonded together as if we had known each other for years. Every bus trip involved singing (some of us were more musically able than others, but it was still fun—we even had lyric sheets), and such was the enthusiasm that by the end of the fortnight, two attendees had written their very own emo version of “I Will Survive”. It was absolutely hilarious. The day after the disco came a sand-sculpting competition at the beach. The lizosaurus should have won, for the “pyramid” lacked both vibrance and creativity, though all entries were, just quietly, quite remarkable.
I could go on for ages about such moments, both organised and inorganised, though I suppose I owe the academic side of it some mention. It was all interesting. We were supposed to, and we did, learn about science, but it didn’t feel like it. Mathematics was about tasting cheese, chips and juice; physics about lots of “pretty experiments” in true Einsteinian style; sports science was about running and jumping; computer science was about getting dots to fight each other (mine lost); human biology was dissecting a sheep’s heart. Everything was about doing, just like science is. After chemistry, I played around with a one-dollar coin and some 8 mol/L nitric acid. The coin went shiny (unfortunately, I had to use it on the washing machine later).
It’s amazing, the friendships (and relationships) that can be formed in two weeks. Perhaps it was our like-mindedness, perhaps the fact that we were all subject to the same gruelling routines by the advisors (between one and three years our seniors), perhaps it was that we were all struggling pretending to be geeks and eventually gave up, but there was something special about this group of 156. For the cynics, yes, the camp did have its fair share of couples (and no, I was not half of one of them), hence the long list of “Couples Awards” at the end of the forum prizegiving (some people got two). But the friendships formed there were truly special. I don’t think any of us wanted to leave geek camp. We’ll keep in touch, surely, but to think, we’re not all that likely to all meet again?
It is a cliché, but a true one: Geek Camp was one of the best two weeks I’ve ever spent. There was not a single moment (except perhaps when we had to get up before half past six on week mornings) where I’d have rather been somewhere else. It wasn’t time out of a holiday. It was time spent better than a holiday, and I’ll always remember the times I had and the people I met there. As was so often said at the forum: “Take ya kit off!”