ROCFest boat race returns to Campus Pond

Chrissy Miller, Staff Reporter

“Residents On Campus Festival” is already in full swing, as the residence halls prepare for the annual boat race set for 5:30 p.m. today at the Campus Pond.

Nick Bamert, president of the Residence Hall Association, has participated in the boat race for the past three years. For his fourth year on campus, he said he is excited to see how a new group of students will carry on the tradition that has brought the hall residents together in past years.

“It’s designed as a way to engage the residents that we have on campus and encourage both communication and friendly competition,” Bamert said. “My first year, I lived in Weller Hall and we had an amazing amount of team unity and team spirit there.”

Bamert said Weller Hall had their boat all “decked out,” with most of the hall turning out for the boat races.

“We all dressed up in the Rocfest theme to cheer on our team and it was a lot of fun,” Bamert said. “It propagated a lot of team spirit in Weller Hall.”

To participate in the boat races, a hall has to build a boat out of duct tape and cardboard. A residence hall team has a total of five people. There are three people who go across the Campus Pond and two people who help the boat launch. Each person goes across one time then the two helpers ensure that people can get in and out of the boat safely.

Bamert said having people in each residence hall participating, even if they are not part of the boat races themselves, is important.

“All of Rocfest has a point based system, and there is a winner at the end of the week,” Bamert said. “Winning events as well as spotting Panther Babies and attending events are all worth points. So the more people you bring from your hall to the events, the more points you earn for your hall.”

Maddie Smart, the associate resident director of Greek Court, said she enjoys the boat race because of its connection to the spirit of Rocfest.

“All the halls come together to compete against one another, but in order to do that they have to work effectively with the members of their community,” Smart said. “So, I like that the different residence halls come together to compete against one another in the spirit of fun.”

Neither Bamert nor Smart knows how the boat race was originally started; however, both said it is a deep-rooted tradition they enjoy immensely.

“It is very ingrained in our culture and we’re very proud to have such a long standing tradition,” Smart said.

Although the competition can be serious, there are some funny moments too, Smart said.

“I always think it’s funny when someone falls in, just because I think people work really hard on their boats, and you think it is going to work and then it doesn’t,” Smart said.

Bamert said decorating the boat might have something to do with whether or not it will float.

“I haven’t found a precise correlation, but some of the flashier boats are not the ones that are built to be the most seaworthy,” Bamert said. “There was a specific hall last year that had a wonderfully decorated boat that made it about four feet in the water before it sank.”

David Emrick, a junior pre-nursing major, who was part of the team with a sinking ship last year, said it was a team bonding experience.

“There was a lot of time and effort that went into building the boat last year even though our boat kind of sunk,” Emrick said. “Our boat didn’t even make it halfway across the pond. It was so funny.”

Bamert said a similar thing happened to him when participating in the boat race his freshman year.

He was still figuring out the college environment at the time when someone suggested he get involved in the boat race. They needed an extra helper to push the cardboard canoe and he volunteered. He did not really know what he was in for until he got there.

“They told me I needed to run around the lake three times then push the boat in, but by the third lap, I was pretty tired, and I managed to stumble face first into the panther pond trying to push the cardboard boat in,” Bamert said.

Emerick said whether the boat sinks or floats, these activities are worth getting involved in.

“They don’t force you to do these activities,” Emerick said “If you are scared or new to campus and everything definitely try and get involved in these programs. It’s a good way to get to know people and create your social life.”

Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].