Baylor Line Camp is overbearing and outdated

By Kalena Reynolds | Reporter

The day started around 1 p.m., as I stood in a line of hundreds of other students in smoldering heat with my mom, joyfully awaiting my initiation into the famous Baylor Line Camp. I debated whether I would abide by the policy of turning my phone into my leader or lie and sneak it in.

“It seems kind of absurd that I’m now a college student, and they are taking my phone away,” I said to my mom. “It makes me feel like I’m back in third grade.”

Like most, I had no clue what to expect. Even though I would be an official Baylor student as of fall 2022, I didn’t know much about the school or its traditions.

It didn’t hit me until I was lying in bed the first night, checking the schedule for the next few days, that I realized just how jam-packed Line Camp was about to be. I did a double take when I realized the schedule for most days started at 6 a.m. and went until around 1 a.m.

I woke up the following day chilled to the bone, enveloped in freezing dorm air. The thermostats were locked in the mid-60s, and I remember crawling into bed one night after being out until 4 a.m. and being so cold that I went to the communal bathrooms and stood in the shower for an hour-and-a-half, waiting for the day to start.

The first full day was filled with excitement and first-day-of-school-type nerves that quickly died down when I found out that most of the day would be spent brainstorming choreography for a dance that each group had to create, centering around a specific theme. My group’s theme was firefighters; I remember them giving us props like dog ears and plastic firefighter hats to wear.

“I’m about to start pursuing my degree, and they are having us dance to ‘Fire Burning’ by Sean Kingston,” I thought. But despite my preconceived notions, I continued and helped choreograph the routine.

Then came the start of multiple long nights. They would keep us up doing worship services or group activities past midnight every night and then encourage us to stay up mingling with one another and exploring campus. I ended up not sleeping until the third night.

Despite the long days and nights, they did not provide us with snacks. There was also limited food, and if you were one of the last groups to be called to go through the line, there was barely any food left over.

While one can argue that a prime college experience is the communal bathrooms, the half-inch of flooded bathroom water that covered the floor by the second night was something I did not plan for.

However, all this aside, the events that took place on the second-to-last day took the cake. After a full day of more dance rehearsals and group bonding, our leaders loaded us onto assigned buses to head to the famously known birthplace of Baylor: Independence.

Despite being utterly exhausted on the hour-and-40-minute bus ride, we were not allowed to sleep and had to sing “That Good Old Baylor Line” for a good duration of the trip there. Side note: If anyone accidentally nodded off, one of the leaders would signal to the person next to them to wake them up.

Once we arrived at Independence, the leaders told us we weren’t allowed to talk until told otherwise. So, we spent the next hour in complete silence until we finished listening to a sermon from a pastor in a church with stained glass windows.

After this, they handed us a paper with song lyrics on it, and we were corralled to an outdoor area where the remnants of the original columns still stood. There were worship leaders who sang for what seemed like hours, and after about 30 minutes or so, people started crying. I’m talking snot-running-down-your-face bawling. It wasn’t until people began dropping to the ground that I realized how peculiar this was.

I remember walking to the back of the group of people because I felt uncomfortable with the events that were taking place. What some people called “spiritual awakenings” seemed like emotional coercion facilitated by exhaustion. At this point, most people hadn’t slept in around two days and were both physically and emotionally exhausted.

After the out-of-the-ordinary worship service, they had our leaders line up through the archway of the columns, intending for us to walk through and meet them as an official welcome to Baylor. We were finally able to get on the bus and head back to our dorms after this, but as luck would have it, they had more stuff planned for us once we got back that night.

With all this being said, there were good parts of Line Camp, such as the friends I made and the knowledge I left with. It also helped familiarize me with the campus and nearby areas. However, between the emotional rollercoaster and the sleep deprivation, it was overbearing and a bit peculiar at times.