The inaugural Quill Camp: Republic is in the books and to see the reports from the first-ever cohort, the program was a success.
Quill Camp: Republic brought together about 50 like-minded students new to George Mason University who share an interest in government, politics, and international affairs. For three days, the students traveled, dined, and learned together as they explored Washington, D.C.—many for the first time—and discovered aspects of their future home at Mason and the Schar School of Policy and Government in a program designed to expand their orientation to the university and the region.
A parallel opportunity, Quill Camp: Vision, was designed for incoming students with interests in leadership and service. Both programs were developed in coordination with the New Student and Family Programs at Mason’s University Life and the Schar School.
All food, housing, and transportation costs were included in the $150 fee. Many of the students’ costs were offset with $125 scholarships funded in part by the Parents Fund.
“Quill Camp was created to give new students a deeper transition experience to the university beyond orientation, and connect them to opportunities and resources around a common interest theme,” said Rick Gray, director of New Student and Family Programs. “We have plans to grow the program for future years and offer more themes and camps to engage more students.”
Highlights of the first-ever Quill Camp: Republic included a welcome dinner attended by newly installed Mason President and Schar School Professor Anne Holton; a tour of the Capitol and shaking hands with U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.); visiting the United States Institute of Peace; a trip to Mason’s Arlington Campus for a talk by Larry Pfeiffer, director of the Schar School’s Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security; taking part in a team-oriented “escape room”; a visit with officials at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany; and a tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
During a morning visit to the U.S. State Department, the inquisitive students heard from representatives from various units. Topics included immigration, refugees, genocides, and the duties of a foreign service officer. Officials were generous in providing advice for obtaining internships and possible employment.
“Honestly, Quill Camp was such an amazing experience for me,” wrote one participant in a follow-up report. (Because of the nature of the funding grant, students’ names cannot be used.) “I am an out-of-state student from Florida and really didn’t know anyone at Mason. This camp, paired with orientation, allowed me to build relationships with people I might not have been able to otherwise. I did all this while learning about the things that I am so interested in. I also built connections with adults that could help further [my] career!”
“To begin with, Quill Camp has made me more confident in choosing George Mason to further my education,” wrote another. “It has been an extremely positive and rewarding experience to see the similarities and differences in other’s interests. I have discovered new interests and friendships to explore at [Mason].”
“Because of the Quill Camp scholarship, I was able to have the experience of a lifetime in D.C.,” said another student. “I learned about inner-workings of our nation’s important departments. I shook hands with a Congresswoman and talked with a former refugee about how to invoke change and help people in a crisis. I learned and I am very grateful for this experience.”