Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dorm Camp

As Princeton alums go, Aaron Burr, Class of 1772, is probably not the one that the University wants to hang its hat on the most.

Burr was the third Vice President of the United States, and yet in all the time that TB has worked here, he's never once included Burr in any context of famous alums. The two U.S. Presidents - James Madison and Woodrow Wilson - appear everywhere; Burr, a Vice President, probably would have been as well, were it not for what happened 208 years ago today in Weehawken.

For those who weren't paying attention junior year of high school, Burr became Vice President under Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800, when Democratic-Republican Jefferson defeated incumbent Federalist John Adams.

The procedure at the time was a bit different, and the President and Vice President didn't run as one ticket. As a result, Jefferson and Burr were sent to the House of Representatives, and it took almost 40 votes to have Jefferson be President and Burr be VP and not the other way around.

Along the way, Burr made a huge enemy in Alexander Hamilton, who had been the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Instead of, say, tweeting mean things about each other, Hamilton and Burr decided to settle their issues via a duel, which was on July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, right across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

It didn't go well for Hamilton.

Depending on which account you believe, Hamilton either fired straight up in the air or shot at Burr and missed. Burr, on the other hand, shot Hamilton in the stomach, and Hamilton died the next day.

From there, it didn't get all that much better for Burr, who tried to start a new country (in Louisiana) and then lived out his life in Europe, as he wasn't exactly welcome in the U.S., what with the whole murder charge and all.

So, yeah, there are reasons why July 11 isn't recognized here as a day to celebrate the first Princetonian to be Vice President.

Besides, this isn't the right time of year to be having great celebrations on campus. There are way more campers here than any other demographic, as camp season is in full swing.

TB loves to see all the different kids who are at all the different camps, from the little ones at the Campus Rec day camp through the elite athletes at the top team camps to the ones who are here for non-athletic camps.

As TB has said before, he thinks "dorm camp" would be a great idea.

Kids could come to Princeton, stay in the dorms, eat in the dining halls and basically do whatever they wanted with their time. The only rule? Nobody is allowed to cross a street.

If they wanted balls to play games, they could have them. Books? The library. Computers? Art? Dance? Whatever they want.

The only condition is that they engage in actual socialization, so no cell phones, no Facebook, none of that. Any activity they'd do would have be to in groups, not individually. It'd be a total commitment to learning to interact with actual human beings.

Alas, his idea is just that, an idea.

The reality of the camp situation is that the sport (or other activity) is the lure, but the opportunity to live and eat on campus are as beneficial for the campers than the games themselves.

As someone who works at Princeton, TB just takes it for granted that he's on the campus every day. For kids who are in a really impressionable period, coming to a school like Princeton has to be a complete and total thrill.

Hopefully, it has an educational purpose as well, showing them what is ahead in terms of being away from home and, for the luckiest of the lucky, the chance to do so at a place like Princeton.

In the meantime, TB will try to figure out a way to get dorm camp up and running.

And go back to celebrating Aaron Burr Day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here are two factoids to show what a small world it can be sometimes:

Alexander Hamilton wanted to attend Princeton but his application for admission was denied. This would have been rare at the time for a young man who had excellent preparatory training. Theories for his rejection include his age (16), his request to study and graduate in an accelerated timeframe, or his illegitimate birth. Hamilton's application for accelerated study was accepted at Columbia where he enrolled and became arguably its most celebrated alumnus ever.

After the start of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton organized and led an artillery company. Hamilton supervised the transportation of artillery pieces from New York City to shell the occupying British forces sequestered in Nassau Hall. Surely there has never been a more satisfying act of revenge by a rejected college applicant in the history of higher education than to lead an artillery barrage upon his first choice college.