The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Duck Camp?

We love it!

Imagine being surrounded by thousands of energetic summer campers in a packed gym, united in school spirit. After a long day of fun outdoor activities, chanting, and dancing with fellow incoming freshmen, Tarleton State University President James Hurley takes the mic. 

“Duck Camp…” he shouts. In response, campers scream with excitement, “We love it!”

Duck Camp is a two-night getaway for incoming students at Tarleton State University to learn campus traditions while bonding with their freshmen class. 

Future students, or “baby ducks,” arrive on campus and are split into several groups led by their team leaders, or “mom” and “dad ducks.” Then, everyone is loaded onto a bus as their summer college adventure awaits.

Story continues below advertisement

“It was just a very lively experience. There wasn’t a single moment where you weren’t doing something. There was always some activity set up for you to do, and you were always interacting with new people,” Tarleton State freshman, Emily Balderos, said.

This is an experience that most Tarleton students will never forget.

Eva Kate, a Duck Camp team leader, looks back on her summer camp memories pretty fondly.

“I was always one of the ones that was up on the chairs first, yelling as loud as I can,” she said. “I had a blast. I had the best time ever.”

Whether someone is eager to show their school spirit and talk to as many strangers as they can, or if they are a little more nervous, Duck Camp is a great way to make new friends before the first year of college.

“I was really nervous, because I’m not like a super social person. At first, we all were just sitting there and being quiet,” freshman student, Racie Romero, said. “But then, they did this thing with a ball and they had questions written on it. They would toss it around the group and people would answer it, and that’s when people started to open up more and it shifted towards being less awkward and scary.”

Baby ducks more often than not, will make memories and relationships that last a lifetime. For example, Roy Rifenburgh, a Duck Camp team leader, still talks to his team leader who encouraged him to become a Tarleton Transition Mentor (TTM), as well as his best friend whom he met at camp as a freshman.

“Samuel Coats, he’s one of my best friends now. He actually dropped out to go into the military,” Rifenburg said. “He was my roommate and I didn’t even realize. We found out at Duck Camp.”

Noah Reynolds, a freshman at Tarleton State University, met his girlfriend at Duck Camp just six months ago.

“We just started playing cards together with some mutual friends at the time and she was really quiet at first, I thought she hated me. But, then it kind of blossomed into something really nice,” Reynolds said.

This summer adventure not only encourages incoming students to come out of their shells and bond with their Tarleton State family but also to try new things.

“I am petrified of heights. It even took a bit to get off the zipline, but my TTMs were there at the bottom encouraging me. And also I had some Duck Camp friends behind me,” Valderos said.  “They were like, ‘Yeah, you can do this!’ I was also given a GoPro to record. I think it displays that every once in a while in the student center on the big TV.”

So, how does Tarleton feel about Duck Camp? We love it! And as the Tarleton State University campus continues to grow, more students will come to love this tradition for years to come.

For more information, go to or

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Brooklyn McKinney
Brooklyn McKinney, Staff Writer

Comments (0)

All the JTAC Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *