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“Camp Carleton”

September 22, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Carleton in the summer is vastly different from Carleton during academic terms--calm, more leisurely, mosquito-ridden, perhaps more conducive to reflection.

I spent the first week helping Custodial Services out with the big room turnover that needed to happen between Graduation and Reunion, with all the class of 2013 families and alums from ‘-3 and ‘-8 classes coming to stay (graduated classes come back every five years). I learned to accept the losing nature of the battle against the nastiness that human carelessness produces in large amounts, and I gained a greater appreciation of the effort it takes to maintain the campus as it is. How Carleton’s custodial staff manages to stay so friendly with the people who so often make their lives harder than necessary remains a mystery to me.

Happily, I spent the next week in what was my favorite paid position ever--as a Reunion Assistant. From shuttling people and things around in golf carts, listening to alums reminisce, watching old friends dance together, and playing with children who were products of unions between Carleton-married couples, the campus came alive with positive energy, happiness, and maize and blue.

For most of the summer, I settled into life as a summer office assistant at Carleton’s Science Education Resource Center, the office I introduce to everyone as the office of Carleton no one knows about. The office works to offer geoscience education resources that are accessible for everyone throughout the nation and engaging to the ‘digital native’ generation, with the larger goal of improving education about our world through the K-16+ levels. Learning the pace of a real 9-5 job in Northfield, doing everything for myself (even cooking!), and living in Musser Hall were all new experiences--every day felt busy and full with all the effort it took just to live on my own (I spent half my time doing dishes, I swear) without things like the structure of a class schedule and the convenience of the dining hall. There were quite a few students on campus over the summer--my dormmates included research student assistants, custodial assistants, Admissions fellows, and various office assistants, among others.

Soon enough, peer leaders and athletes began crawling around campus and it was time for the Dining Services student manager team to return to the dining hall (try an 8 hour/day job in dining services!). There’s nothing like full-time work to make you stand back and realize just how much behind the scenes effort happens to set the stage for life as we college kids live it.

New Student Week rolled around soon enough. Being a New Student Week group leader and seeing all the first-year students apprehensive but excited to arrive on campus was the perfect cap on my summer, which started with seeing alums overjoyed to return to their beloved campus.

There’s so much more I could say about my experiences, but suffice it to say that Carleton offers a wealth of opportunities to learn outside the classroom. Next post I’m writing about how frenetically paced my first week of the term has been...

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