QUEST Camp 2014

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What if I told you there was a place where ideas could be fostered rather than rejected, teammates could refer to each other as friends rather than classmates, and minds in the fields of business, engineering and computer science could be collaborative rather than bleakly divided? Well, to be completely honest, this place does exist. It’s called QUEST. Each August, the expedition commences for a lucky 90 terps at a little place we like to call QUEST camp.

It was roughly 9 a.m. on a blistering hot Wednesday morning. I remember the moment like it happened just seconds ago. The moment consisted of the sight of my very own QUEST gear in-hand, the taste of freshly baked bagels, and the crisp, leather-scented aroma of an air-conditioned coach bus. Indeed this initial environment was the perfect formula essential for the success of cohort 23 and 24 bonding. After a brief, yet extremely informative video on coach bus safety, it was time to make our way to Camp Lett’s— or Camp “Lett’s have some fun,” said fellow cohort 23 member, Chandler Pierce.

The second we stepped onto the dusty gravel road of Camp Lett’s, it was time to start the activities. Personally, I can say there’s no better way to start QUEST camp than by meeting a guy with a super cool Scottish accent, playing an overly-aggressive game of human blob, and by shifting a sweaty rope in a frantic circle with a team of QUEST campers you literally just met. If this doesn’t sound like quality fun, I’m afraid QUEST camp might not be for you.

Time flies when you’re having fun. And by mid-afternoon, I couldn’t believe I was almost finished my first of three stations— the highly stimulating high ropes course. Helmet on head, safety belt strapped around waist, and carabiner locked in position, it was now time to descend from the 40-foot ropes course. Rumor has it fellow cohort 24 member, Zack Zweig, screamed like a little baby as he descended to the ground. Though no one can verify the validity of this statement, I personally can believe it.

Next it was time for the second ropes course, known as the “low ropes course,” which forced QUEST teams to work with each other— even if that meant neither team had the chance to win. Indeed communication, collaboration, and cooperation were vital for success. Following this event, the lucky QUEST campers ended their third rotation in the air-conditioned “Boat House.” This station meant it was time to innovate like there was no tomorrow.

As the day grew old and the night grew young, yet another friendly meal at the Camp Lett’s cafeteria came to an end. But soon the QUEST campfire would be lit and s’mores would be shared. Even Dr. Armstrong had to have a s’more. Eventually, believe it or not, stories were shared around the campfire. Some people told stories about how they had gotten scars on their bodies. Weird right? Well actually, it wasn’t. It was quite fun.
As the campfire became ash and the moon began to shine beautifully in the star-lit sky, it was still as hot and humid as a sweaty cabin mattress. Literally. Though only the “cool” mentors gained access to the highly desired case of an air-conditioned room, QUEST campers innovated by fanning the upper-bunk windows while simultaneously playing games into the night.

Was it hard to sleep? Of course it was. What kind of question is that? Trying to sleep that night while knowing that the next day would be my first full-day as an official member of QUEST was like the seven-year-old me trying to sleep on Christmas Eve. Was that a run-on sentence? I’m an engineering major.

But alas, it was morning, and, yet again, the QUEST thinkers were thinking and the QUEST mentors were mentoring. Juices were flowing and ironed-out ideas blossomed into astonishingly creative presentations made by each individual team. Foluké Tuakli’s group, known as Scoop, illustrated their idea through their foldable desk mat prototype— perfect for those in jam-packed lecture halls.

All-in-all, each team learned a lot about quality— the essential trait necessary for effective innovation.

As QUEST camp came to a close and friendships between cohorts ignited, it was now time to say goodbye to the pleasant and accommodating Camp Lett’s staff. As each QUEST camper stepped back onto the bus, busy minds began to ponder on the idea of creating a time machine— that is, to restart QUEST camp once again. Many will say the bus ride was much shorter than on the way there, mainly because we came there as classmates and left there as friends.

Author: Sam Lewis

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