Camp ROC: Hundreds of BYU students camp out for football opener


The BYU campus looked like a scene from “The Walking Dead” from 4:30 p.m. to 4:59 p.m. last Thursday. Hundreds of students were spread across campus, staring into their phones and refreshing social media accounts.

One student began running toward the courtyard, and the rest followed suit.

Students across campus Thursday rushed into the JFSB courtyard for the BYU “ROC Drop.” The location was announced on the official social media accounts of the BYU student section at 5:00 that night.

The Roc Drop will continue before each home football game this season.

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A group of BYU students cheer from the front row of the ROC section in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Sept. 17, 2016. (Ari Davis)

The mad rush was prompted by a new set of rules created by the BYU ROC Board to better organize pre-game camping. Some of these rules include picking up ROC Line Cards on campus, one-day camping restrictions and keeping the camping line more organized.

“The rules are the same (ROC pass) wise,” ROC president Spencer McGhie said. “The only changes we’ve made are so people aren’t camping out all week.”

The rule change is simple. Instead of ambitious campers waiting out all week by the stadium, the ROC Board hands out cards to determine the order of the line for a one-night camping event.

“We got a lot of complaints like ‘Hey, I can’t camp out all week,’ ‘I’m failing assignments,’ ‘There’s no WiFi.’ So we just listened to the voice of the students,” McGhie said. “We actually talked to Gonzaga. They have a very small basketball stadium and a lot of demand. They pick a random spot on campus two days before the game and give out cards. And then everyone goes and camps and has fun. This way it’s fair for everyone, everyone has a shot at the front row.”

Freshman Austin Stutz received the first-ever ROC Drop Line Card.

“We had different groups of three people all over campus waiting for 5:00,” Stutz said. “We were walking by the JFSB and we saw them setting up tables so we thought, ‘Might as well stay there, hopefully it was there.’ And it ended up being there, so we were just really close.’’

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BYU running back Jamaal Williams high-fives fans during the Cougar Walk prior to the game against UCLA. (Ari Davis)

Stutz explained, “We reserved the first three (line cards) for 15 people. The other people I was with were stoked. It was pretty sweet.”

But the rule change came with mixed reviews among students. The new ROC Drop was a positive change for most, but freshman Kjerstin Roberts expressed how some students felt at the back of the line.

“I think it’s sad that you have to race across campus to get there,” Roberts said. “We’ve been planning on camping out for weeks, but it’s okay as long as it’s what’s good for a lot of people.”

ROC Board member Caroline Burke felt sympathetic for Kjerstin and other students who couldn’t get to the drop fast enough.

“It is unfair to people that have to be in classes or at work, and people can’t save their spot,” Burke said. “Even though it is a little crazy and hectic, I think this is way better than how it was done before.”

Making the camping process just one night allowed the ROC to have much more fun while camping in line, instead of making it a chore.

Campers had a good time despite having to endure the sprinkler system overnight. The ROC Board attempted to make them as comfortable as possible; the board delivered pizza on Friday night and hot chocolate on Saturday morning.

“It was fun, especially at the front of the line,” freshman Ben Williams said. “I kind of woke up (on Saturday) when everyone was coming over. It was cool to have some hot chocolate right when I woke up.”

McGhie and the rest of the ROC Board members were impressed with the student section turnout, saying it was “great” to see nearly 800 passes handed out. But McGhie is still looking to improve the overall experience for students.

“We want to let the students know that we are listening to their feedback,” McGhie said. “If they have any ideas of how to better their game day experience let us know. Shoot us a DM on any of our social media pages. We want to hear from you.”

Students will have a chance to claim the first ROC line card two days before each home game. Follow the BYU ROC on social media for the location reveals.

BYU Roc announced where to pick up roc line cards on social media, including Instagram. (Instagram/@byuroc)
The ROC announced where to pick up ROC line cards on social media, including Instagram. (Instagram/@byuroc)
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