About a year ago, while at a conference in Dubai I ran across a French colleague. He learned that I was about to quit my job to pursue an MBA at Duke. His immediate reaction was “Wow! So you are going to see Duke Basketball live? That is so fortunate!” … That was my first introduction to the charm of the Duke Blue Devils and how far their influence reaches. That was about six months before I came to Fuqua, and I was over 7,000 miles away from Durham.

After I arrived on campus, Campout was just around the corner. Campout is a big tradition at Duke, it is a rite of passage for new Dukies. Students spend one day and two nights outside in order to get ahold of season tickets for Duke Men’s Basketball. The event is organized like a big rock festival (like Rock am Ring in Europe) with components such as: camping, fun, dirt, bad weather, party and (just a little) alcohol, you name it. For someone from a country where college sports are virtually non-existent and where basketball is way less popular than soccer, Campout was a very unique experience.

Campout Tips

With Campout happening this weekend, I wanted to share some snippets from my memory of the event in order to help prepare this year’s students for what to expect:

  1. Make sure to have all-weather gear with you. Waiting for a probable check-in call in the middle of a rainy night when your eyelids are droopy can be very cold.
  2. If you are not from the US, use the occasion to find out more about popular games (like “Cornhole”). That will make time pass a lot faster and allow you to meet many new people.
  3. Apportion your energy well. There are so many parties going on around the camp. You definitely want to make it to all of them. One example: I had never watched a Bollywood movie in my life. But thanks to the great party with live music from our Fuqua Indian club (Indus), I can now appreciate the music, dance, and excitement those films are famous for.
  4. Be open to new experiences and sensations. At last year’s Campout, Coach K and the Duke Basketball team actually came to greet us campers. I was stunned by the enthusiasm the crowd exhibited. I had only seen that back in my country when a soccer team came back to town after winning a major title.
  5. Be a reliable team member. Do not let your teammates down. Campout is tough but it’s a team event.
  6. Lastly, everybody wins. It is a team competition, and if you want to see a Duke home game, you will see (at least) one.

A special note for fellow students with children: There is usually one Duke Basketball game in the season (in 2012 it was on January 1) whereby students can bring their families free of charge. It may not be the highest-profile game of the year, but nevertheless it is a lot of fun to see all the little kids cheer for Duke.

Enjoy Campout and make world-class basketball a part of your memories of Duke — it is a once in a lifetime experience, and something only we Dukies can claim!