Quill Camps Welcome New First-Year Students with Immersive Experiences


Orientation season begins in earnest at George Mason University in August, but for a number of rising freshmen, their first year of college began in July during Quill Camp.

A group of teenagers in tee shirts stand pose with the lighted Washington Monument behind them.
Incoming freshmen from Quill Camp: Republic got a twilight tour of Washington, D.C., landmarks. Photos by Ron Aira/Creative Services.

The series of four-day camps—there are five of them, each with a different academic emphasis—bring together like-minded students who explore not just the Mason campuses but also the surrounding Washington, D.C., region. For instance, True Crime members are provided insights into the criminal justice system; studio students are provided with hands-on experience in the arts; and Project Peak participants enjoy immersive outdoor excursions. The camps are organized by Mason’s New Student and Family Programs Office.

A mid-July field trip capped off Quill Camp: Republic, which sent new students by bus into the District of Columbia to visit landmarks, tour museums, and get a general idea of where decisions are made in one of the most important political cities in the world.

Not surprisingly, many Quill Camp: Republic students are majoring in degree programs hosted by the Schar School of Policy and Government. Having some knowledge of what the vaunted “hallowed marble halls” of Washington, D.C., actually look like provides good background for government majors who will be studying policy and politics.

The camp’s activities were even insightful for those who had been to Washington before.

“I didn't see too many things that were new, but it was fun to tour them with my future classmates and colleagues,” said incoming government and international politics (GVIP) major Griffin Crouch, who lives in Arlington, Virginia, not far from the District of Columbia. “I was learning from all the other students what going to Mason would be like.”

A group of teens in tee shirts pose in front of the Capitol building.
Quill Camp: Republic’s incoming freshmen got a tour of a place some of them may work as future interns—the Capitol.

The tour of the Capitol, the dusk visit to the familiar landmarks of D.C., and an excursion into the National Museum of African American History and Culture “was a great way to see the city with a different group of people and experience everything that’s here,” he said.

“It’s been amazing,” said Charlotte Bell, a GVIP major from Richmond, Virginia. Even though, like Crouch, it was not her first visit to the nation’s capital, Quill Camp: Republic afforded “a lot of really great opportunities this week,” she said after the visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I never would've known what this museum was or knew of its importance” without the visit, she said. “I really gained perspective. And the monument tour we went on last night was really wonderful. It was beautiful.”