Last weekend, the current Pamplin cast (short only two) shared YMCA Camp Collins’ snazzy facilities with students from Beaverton High School and a Girl Scout troop. By the end of the car ride to Gresham, Oregon, I had already realized how lucky I was (and am) to be part of such a cohesive, energetic, driven group.
On the first night, our new Pamplin professor of history, David Campion, introduced himself by presenting a brief autobiography. He told us about his beginnings at a Jesuit high school—his first inspiration to become an educator. We learned that he paid for college by joining the Naval ROTC program, and subsequently went to grad school for engineering (against his better judgment) before becoming an officer on a ship in the first Gulf War.
Before bed, about half our ranks went on a nighttime walk to admire the stars. A handful of us played Banana-grams—a fast-paced word game using Scrabble-esque tiles. Katy ground most of us into fine dust.
In the morning, we met up with a couple of men who would guide us through team-building exercises and ropes courses. Laura Bogar, despite a nagging cold, was the first to volunteer to run as far as she could, while screaming as loudly as she could, stopping as soon as she ran out of breath. Zach, Benjamin and Micah raced her, Zach soon disappearing around a corner, the clear winner.
After everyone else had had a chance at the climbing wall, Professors Campion and O’Sullivan scrambled up like it was nothing, putting many of us to shame.
While waiting for our guides to prepare the zip line, we passed up the usual fall-back-and-trust-your-teammates-to-catch-you exercise, and went for the human gyroscope. That means that we all gathered around Kyle and Erica, in turn, and passed them hand over hand so that they each performed a back flip without touching the ground.
Nikki’s scream pierced the air as she stepped off of a platform in the trees, hurtling along a zip line toward a tree across the way.
In the afternoon, we had a few hours of free time. While the more adventurous among us rented bikes, went on runs or took advantage of Camp Collins’ bouldering and obstacle courses, the rest retired to the cabins to sleep or study. I fell asleep reading Zhuangzi, and a few minutes after waking up was summoned to a yoga session led by Kyle. Erica, Pirtle and I performed sun salutations while “My Heart Will Go On” played in the background on Micah’s Celtic pan-flute.
As soon as we had finished off our hamburgers (or veggie burgers) and ice cream sandwiches, Professor Johnson and Professor Campion introduced a “moral dilemma,” posing a situation in which we had to decide whether to drive a car with a bomb into a hotel, at which we were the manager; or to drive to a police station, at which point the IRA would kill our wife, who they had hostage. There was more to it than that, but I won’t go into detail. The discussion lasted about an hour.
Later, we separated into committees for the semester, each more popular than the last, everyone contributing grandiose ideas.
Back at the cabins, after the professors had left, everyone gathered around the snacks and talked—about school, about spirit animals, about superpowers. At some point, the circle turned its attention to Micah, who held us in thrall with ghost stories, many taking place on Lewis & Clark’s south campus. In the end, he promised to arrange a tour of the Corbett mansion with Campus Safety.
Driving back to Portland the next morning, everyone in my car stared sleepily ahead listening to the top 40. After a fantastic weekend, it was difficult to think about homework and the week ahead, but I have to say that I was more excited about the Pamplin Society than I ever had been before.