Student orientation has a long history at Rensselaer. According to the 1937 Transit, the Class of 1940 was the first to take part in an organized introduction to Rensselaer:
Things have changed this year, especially for the Freshman class. Many of the group were able to attend the Freshman camp, a new organizationthe brain child of the Seniors. On the eighth of September, this group met at the Institute and from there were taken to Burden Lake. Here they enjoyed the informal life as well as swimming, tennis, baseball, and other sports. To be sure, the more formal element was not lacking, for in the evenings they heard speakers, both from the Institute and from outside. Bull Sessions with counselors played a prominent part in teaching the Freshmen the ways of the Institute.
World War II brought freshman camp to a halt for a number of years. The event moved to Silver Bay Conference Center on Lake George in the 1950s. Bob Pfeiff 50, photographer and editor-in-chief of the 1950 Transit, directed our attention to his photographs of the fall 1949 Freshman Camp at Silver Bay.
So far as I know, Pfeiff says, there was no freshman camp when I entered with the Class of 1950 in the fall of 1946. By 1949, though, Freshman Camp had already regained almost all of its pre-war importance, according to the Transit.
For many 50s-era alumni, a memorable part of the freshman camp experience was learning the song Ah Me, My Poor Freshie, which all freshmen were required to sing (on their knees, with hands raised, wearing red beanies!) in the presence of upperclassmen.
As part of this years revamped student orientation, Dan Sekellick 55 volunteered to lead a bus tour of area sites. Before leaving my tour-weary group, I asked them where their little red beanies were and did they know the words to Ah Me, My Poor Freshie. All now long out of date, as was my slide rule, which I showed them, still in good working order but now just an ancient relic.
(See Mail for more freshman camp memories.)
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