Like most of the other eighteen and nineteen year olds in Cohort 21, I was nervous the night before QUEST Camp. Some of us didn’t know anyone at all in QUEST, and some of us were worried we wouldn’t make friends. Some of us knew a couple of the people there, but not enough of them to assuage the anxiety. Some of us hadn’t packed yet (some weren’t going to until the next morning, fifteen minutes before we met up). For most of us, it was a mixture of all of the above, but all that worry was pointless.
Each person in QUEST was chosen for specific reasons. I never believed you could quantify a personality enough to sort out a particular type of person, but QUEST has done it, and that type of person is, simply: awesome.
In our pilot products, ropes course, pool activity, and team building exercises, I was taken aback by how easy it was to strike up a conversation with almost anyone. After freshman year ended, I didn’t think I’d see the same level of friendliness and openness with strangers, but QUEST Camp facilitated those feelings all over again (though this time the conversations occasionally threw around words like “storming,” “voice of the customer,” and “minimum viable product”).
Not only is QUEST a group of friendly conversationalists, it is truly a community full of innovative and creative people who are ready to collaborate on whatever problem they face. I’ve participated in plenty of teambuilding exercises before, but having QUEST members as teammates brought it to a whole new level. QUEST approaches problems creatively; more often than not, the effective solution is much simpler than you’d think.
In psychology, “functional fixedness” is a way of thinking that restricts a person’s perception on how to use a tool or carry out a particular task. A can opener is used to open tuna fish, not that impossible sealed plastic packaging (which ironically holds scissors). A bowl is for holding cereal, not magnifying music from your iPod. Most people are stuck with functional fixedness for a majority of their lives. At QUEST Camp though, when we had to get twenty pairs of feet onto a wobbly wooden beam suspended on ropes long enough to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” we didn’t start linking arms and hoping everyone had good balance. Instead, we sat on the dirt and propped our feet up on the plank. Easy. Relaxing, even. All it took was a little discussion beforehand about how best to accomplish the goal.
After QUEST Camp, I am even more excited to be a part of this community of fun, intelligent, forward-thinking people. I look forward to expanding my way of thinking and problem-solving, and I look forward to starting 190 with my new cohort. I hope we continue to stay close once we’re back on campus and immersed in our semesters. Something tells me it won’t be a problem.