Welcome back to the blog! Today I’m super excited to tell y’all about what I was up to June 10th through 14th – Baylor Orientation and Line Camp. Orientation should be a given, but unless you’re in a Baylor family you probably have no clue what Line Camp is. Line Camp is Baylor’s new student program that gives incoming first-year bears an opportunity to learn Baylor’s traditions, make new friends, and learn their way around campus a little better. Line Camp has been one of my favorite parts of summer so far and it’s hard to explain why without telling you all about it, so that’s what I’m doing today! If you’re looking into Baylor or college in general I’m hoping this post will be extra interesting for you. Enjoy!
Given that I usually fly into San Antonio over the summer to visit my family and I knew I’d be coming to Texas for Baylor Orientation and Line Camp, my family decided it would be best to send me to Texas for two consecutive weeks; the first to spend time with both my mom’s and dad’s family, and the second to go to Baylor. My immediate family was in intense packing mode for our recent move, so I came to Texas and orientation alone. Fortunately, one of the girls (Lexi) I’d met through the BU ’23 Facebook group and had become super good friends with through Snapchat, Instagram, frequent texting, letters, and FaceTime calls offered to let me stay with her family in Waco the night before and between the two days of Orientation! Funny story – after talking for months, Lexi and I realized that our mothers actually knew each other in high school. Small world! My grandmother drove me to Austin to meet up with Lexi the before Orientation and it was so fun finally getting to meet in person!
Finally together, Lexi showed me a few of her favorite places in the Austin area (where she lived up until a few years ago) including the cutest crêpe place, some cute boutiques, the 360 Bridge Cliff View of Lake Austin, Starbucks (which I very quickly learned is a major staple in Lexi’s daily diet), and her favorite pizza place! Later in the afternoon we left for Waco with her parents and drove through the craziest storm. Once we made it to Waco, we watched the sunset from the Waco Suspension Bridge before going to bed to rest up for our first day of Baylor Orientation!
We woke up bright and early for Texas-shaped waffles and Starbucks before Orientation! Orientation began with a welcoming session in Waco Hall, where we quickly began running into people we recognized from the countless Baylor social media groups we had been thrown into. Throughout the day we attended several informational sessions including ones on schedule building, libraries and other available study areas, and more. During our lunch break, we were able to snap a few photos in front of Baylor’s famously picturesque Pat Neff building! After lunch in Penland dining hall we attended more sessions and the Dr. Pepper Hour club fair (since Dr. Pepper was actually founded in Waco, Dr. Pepper Hour is one of Baylor’s many traditions and it typically takes place every Tuesday between 3:00pm and 4:00pm in the Barfield Drawing Room of the BDSC where students and faculty enjoy free Dr. Pepper floats!).
In the evening, incoming freshmen were shuttled to McLane Stadium for dinner in the Baylor Club! After dinner, we were taken to the bleachers, where we learned about the tradition of the Baylor Line. In the corner of the stadium, to the right of the Jumbotron, there is a yellow line that leads into McLane. At each home game, freshmen wear their gold Baylor Line jerseys (which bear their last name and graduation year on the back) and run down that yellow line and onto the field to create a tunnel for the football team to enter through. Once the players have made their way onto the field, freshmen stand in the section immediately behind the opponent bench. Only freshmen participate, but seniors get the opportunity to run the Baylor Line one last time at their last home football game. After we wrapped things up at McLane, we took a shuttle back to campus, where Lexi’s parents picked the two of us up and took us back to the apartment to get some sleep!
Day two of Orientation was a little more relaxed, giving students time to attend their scheduled advising appointments. Lexi’s advising appointment was about an hour before mine, so I went back to Waco Hall to meet my roommate (who was in the combined Orientation and Line Camp session that began the day after mine) in person for the first time! I found my roommate, Perri, through the BU ’23 Facebook group and we decided to room together based on our similar interests (like YoungLife), natural conversations, and good FaceTime calls – despite the fact that she lives a couple states away and we hadn’t had the chance to meet in person. Meeting Perri in person was so sweet and she’s just as normal as I thought she’d be (thank goodness).
After meeting Perri, I headed over to my own advising appointment. I was super nervous going into the appointment since my parents weren’t with me to help me pick classes, but it went really well! I’m not taking any 8:00 a.m. classes first semester – whoop whoop! My appointment ended and I met back up with Lexi and her family to choose our meal plans, took our yearbook photos, and had our IDs made before attending a couple more sessions.
My stepmother attended UVA and was in a wedding with a man on Baylor’s new student programs staff, so I broke away from Lexi’s family to have lunch with him! We had a pleasant conversation during our lunch at Penland and it was so nice to meet him. After lunch, I rejoined Lexi and a couple of our mutual rising freshman Baylor friends for coffee at Common Grounds! Common Grounds is the best coffee shop and it’s just a short walk away from Baylor’s campus…so basically they’re going to eat my money when school starts. It was so fun getting to hang out with a few fellow future bears and I’ve already started to see friendships bloom from that little hangout. After an hour or two at Common Grounds, we headed back to campus to say goodbye to Lexi’s parents and check into Line Camp.
As you check in, Line Camp leaders give you your room number/meal scan card, a tee shirt, and a water bottle as you turn in your cell phone. I personally loved that we turned in our cell phones for Line Camp because it gave us all the opportunity to truly connect with each other (and not having a phone felt a lot like YoungLife camp). Once we checked in, we settled into our dorm rooms in Earle before meeting in front of the building to be introduced to our Line Camp leaders and separated into groups. My leader’s name was Peria and she was the BEST! The groups reentered the building for ice breakers so we could all get to know each other before heading to dinner. My eleven-person Line Camp group was comprised of people from all around the country and world, including Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, and Puerto Rico!
From ice breakers in Earle, we walked to dinner, which was held in the top floor of another building at Baylor, giving us an incredible view of the entire campus. After dinner, we participated in the Bruiser Games, held in one of Baylor’s indoor athletic facilities. The Bruiser Games, named after the Baylor mascot Bruiser the bear, included several activities that incorporated most everyone’s strengths at some point. Once the Bruiser Games winning team was announced, we headed to Sing group announcements in one of Baylor’s auditoriums. Sing is one of Baylor’s many long-held traditions that allows student organizations to perform 7-minute Broadway-style productions in competition with one another (read more about it here and watch a YouTube video on the history of Sing here!) and at Line Camp, we got to produce our own smaller-scale performances! Each Sing group at Line Camp was composed of two Line Camp groups and was given a theme – ours was firefighters! In Line Camp Sing the songs to be used in our performances were assigned to us with the theme, so we prepared a three-ish minute performance to a mashup of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel, “Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston, and “Burnin’ Up” by the Jonas Brothers. Our first rehearsal was mainly just getting to know each other and brainstorming for our routine.
Following Sing practice, we had another small group family time (which included pizza) in which we all shared how we chose Baylor. We were all free after family time ended around 11:30 p.m., and something fun about Line Camp is the fact that there isn’t a curfew. I’m not going to lie, this stressed me out at first as someone who loves sleep and experiences extreme FOMO, especially when trying to make new friends in a setting like Line Camp. Tired but not ready for the night to end, I went to one of my friends’ dorms and, knowing my birthday was the next day, she and a couple other girls took me to the lobby to sing happy birthday to me at midnight. After midnight struck, we went for a walk around campus before heading to bed.
Our first full day at Line Camp began with breakfast from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (although my friends and I didn’t go until around 8:15 a.m.). After breakfast, we attended a short seminar on story and calling, which was followed by family time in which we discussed why we felt called to our majors. It was so fun to hear everyone’s stories about how they knew what they wanted to do with their lives! From small group, we went to lunch until 12:30pm, when we had another Sing rehearsal.
We walked out of Sing rehearsal and awaited buses that would take us to Independence, Texas – home of the original Baylor campus. Independence is two hours away (keep in mind none of us had phones because they had been collected), so our Line Camp leaders kept us entertained first by singing happy birthday to me (so sweet but also slightly uncomfortable), then learning the lyrics to “That Good Old Baylor Line” and the Baylor fight song “Old Fight!”, then “speed friending.” Speed friending consisted of the aisle person moving up a seat every three minutes (then down a seat when they rotated to the other side of the bus) and a new conversation starter being provided by the boss every rotation. It was fun to talk to people I hadn’t met yet, but overall I wouldn’t say it was super effective because I remember maybe three names from speed friending.
When we finally arrived in Independence, we ate a Southern dinner consisting of memorably good barbecue and rolls. Following dinner was an educational talk on Baylor’s history inside an old chapel. When the talk was over, we rode the bus to the spot where we’d begin our walking tour of historic Independence. Many goofy moments and group photos, we were loaded back onto the buses and asked by our Line Camp leaders to sit silently and pray or think about what we’d heard that day about calling and what we wanted our Baylor story to be.
When the five-ish minute ride was over, groups were dismissed from the buses by small group and in silence, we were given our Baylor Line jerseys (which we’ll wear to home games in the fall) then prayed over by our Line Camp leaders. Once all the groups were off the buses, we walked down a candlelit path to a grassy area in front of the four columns, all that remain of the original Baylor University campus in Independence. While standing in front of the columns, we sang two worship songs before a speaker asked us to take a moment to reflect and pray before meeting our Line Camp leaders behind the columns and joining the Baylor Line. When I met Peria behind the columns she said “welcome home,” and told me to put my Line jersey on. I then walked through the columns as a member of the Baylor Line. As soon as everyone had completed their ceremonial walk through the columns, group photos were taken. Everything about this experience took me to a place of disbelief. I’ve never attended a Christian school, so the fact that we sang worship songs as a group and God was so openly invited into our journeys was just so cool to me. I knew I had chosen the right school – being part of the Baylor Line isn’t just running onto the football field at the start of the games, it’s joining a community like one I’ve never had the opportunity to be a part of before. At Baylor, your relationship with Christ is encouraged and fostered. I’m so grateful this is something I get to be a part of.
Once all the small group photos were taken, we got back on the buses for our two-hour drive back to Waco. This time no speed friending was required, the leaders put on the movie Sing and most of us went to sleep. I sat next to a girl named Lauren who I’d gotten to know fairly well already, but we talked the entire bus ride and by the time we got back to campus I knew we would good friends for a long long time.
When we all sleepily got off the bus super late, we were led into a large room we hadn’t been in before, where all of our Line Camp leaders were standing on tables shouting the “Milk and Cookies” chant – “M-I, L-K, C double O-K-I-E-S, I say milk and cookies! I say milk and cookies! What? I say milk and cookies, I say milk and cookies!” We probably would’ve been pretty mad at them for waking us from our ready-to-go-to-bed state if it weren’t for the actual milk and cookies awaiting us at the end of the tunnel of screaming Line Camp leaders. The cookies were from a local bakery and were so good. It was during this gathering that we wrote on our slime caps – another Baylor tradition that isn’t quite as well known or attractive as the Baylor Line jerseys. For years, Baylor freshmen have ceremoniously written their name and hometown on the inside of the bill of these caps, which is then flipped up for other students to see. This hasn’t been as popular in recent years, so the hats were more symbolic for us. After Milk and Cookies, Lauren and I walked around campus and talked for a couple more hours before heading to bed.
Breakfast spanned from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. again, and again my friends and I waited until breakfast was about half over to go eat. After breakfast, we had family time with our small groups before attending a seminar about the significance of friendships in college. Following the seminar, we had another family time in which we talked about our best friends at home and what we were looking for in friends in college. From family time we went straight to lunch, then to a 4-and-a-half-hour Sing rehearsal. My group honestly really needed this rehearsal, because we didn’t have much prepared before it at all. With a little frustration and a lot of patience, we finally finished choreographing and memorizing our performance with a little extra time to spare to get ready for our banquet at 6:00 p.m. The banquet dinner was held in that same top-level room as our first meal, and it was so funny to see how much closer we’d all gotten in the forty-eight hours since we’d last eaten there. We were all dressed up nicely (which was a nice break from the tee shirts we’d been wearing all week), so we took lots of photos.
After the banquet, we had our Sing performances in Waco Hall. It was so much fun to watch everyone’s routines, I know they all worked so hard! The other themes were so much fun too – 80’s jazzercise, under the sea, zoo, spies, superheroes, and school to name a few! None of us would have believed it if you told us twenty-four hours before, but the firefighter group placed second overall! We were pretty dang proud of that considering we choreographed the majority of it in the rehearsal that afternoon. We took some pictures on and around the Judge Baylor statue to celebrate!
Immediately following the Sing winner announcements, we all walked to Common Grounds, where a DJ was set up in the small performer space out back. We had so much fun singing and dancing and celebrating the week we’d had together! Once the celebration at Common Grounds ended at 11:00 p.m., we headed over to the SUB, where an introduction to another Baylor tradition would take place.
Every Friday and Saturday night during the school year, Baylor hosts something called “Sundown Sessions” in the SUB. These university-sponsored events give Baylor students safe, fun, and free activities to participate on campus from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. (read more about Baylor Sundown Sessions here). To give us a little preview of Sundown Sessions, we were offered pizza and Common Grounds coffee and were able to participate in painting and karaoke! Eventually, the Sundown Session ended, and many Line Campers pulled an all-nighter with their new friends. I made it to 4:00 a.m. walking around campus and talking to my friends but then knew I’d reached my limit given the lack of sleep I’d already had that week (not to mention I was about forty-eight hours away from leaving for Wyldlife camp where I’d be leading a bunch of middle schoolers for a week in Florida).
Friday morning I (accidentally) slept through breakfast due to the late night we had, then I met with my small group to head over to our closing session. The speaker reflected on the week we’d had and got us all excited about the year to come! Once the session was over, we had our last family time as a small group. We all shared things we’d learned and things we appreciated about each other and it was so sweet! Our Line Camp leader returned our phones to us along with sweet personal notes (complete with Bible verses that she specifically picked for each of us) and a printed group picture of our group in front of the columns in Independence. Saying goodbye to Peria and the rest of my Line Camp group was so hard for me, it’s so crazy how close you can grow to people in just a few days! After our last small group session concluded, we took our luggage to the lobby and people began to leave. I then said my goodbyes to my new friends outside of my Line Camp group, which was equally as hard if not harder. Even though I knew I’d see them in just a few short months, I didn’t want to be apart. How fortunate I am to be going into college with such an awesome community!
At Baylor Line Camp I made friends that I’m so beyond grateful to start college with, but I also fully believe that many of them will be friends for a lifetime. It’s so hard to explain the experience to someone that didn’t go, but hopefully you’ve gotten an idea! I left Line Camp in awe that I actually get to go to Baylor, it’s a blessing I did nothing to deserve. God is so good! Thanks for reading!
P.S. – A current Baylor journalism student reached out to me shortly after Line Camp and asked me a few questions for an article she was writing about Orientation! If you’re interested in reading my responses and learning more about the unique ways Baylor’s Orientation and Line Camp programs allow students to connect, you can read the article here!