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ASU Football: Social media, sense of community foster new student tradition in 'Camp Fargo'

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What goes on during the new tradition?

The first group of 10 lined up outside Wells Fargo Arena Monday night
The first group of 10 lined up outside Wells Fargo Arena Monday night

A group of roughly 10 kids surround a 60-inch flat screen TV watching former Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton make his his first start for the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Some are cuddled together on an air mattress while others sit in foldable chairs. All the while, they're eating pizza brought to them and paid for by Arizona State head coach Todd Graham. They're all waiting in line outside Wells Fargo Arena until Thursday morning, when student tickets to see the No. 15 Sun Devils take on No. 11 UCLA Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium will be distributed.

It is not Krzyzewskiville at Duke for basketball tickets, but it doesn't need to be. It is unique and it is the beginning of true student tradition that Arizona State hasn't seen in a long time. It is "Camp Fargo."

20-year-old Trevor Zero, a business and communications major, is the first person in line for a ticket which was 30 people deep as of early Monday evening. He got there at 7 p.m. Sunday night.

"I just happened to get here first, my friend came like five minutes after me," Zero said. "The camping out has been a big new tradition and we want to keep it going."

The first time people really started to take notice of the event was before the Pac-12 championship game last year against Stanford when the line for tickets wrapped around the arena. It became its own tent city with different businesses providing food for campers who often blared music late into the night while tossing footballs back and forth, watching TV, or doing homework.

Yes, that's right, doing homework. One of the biggest misconceptions that people seem to have is that campers don't go to class.

"All of us go to class, we don't skip classes. We have one person here that watches all of our stuff," Zero said.

Unwritten rules

How can kids go to class and still trust they will keep their spot in line? There are certain unwritten rules to Camp Fargo. As long as each camper sleeps in their sleeping bag or on their air mattress each night outside Wells Fargo Arena, they're in no danger of losing their spot in line.

"Sleep out here, have a good time, and don't be unfair to others behind you," said 21-year-old political science senior Tim Schodt, who is among the first 10 students in line.

According to Schodt, it's also important that if any student wants a ticket, they should camp out. Students shouldn't save spots for friends who would then come on the morning ticket sales begin and therefore cut in front of everyone else behind them who have been waiting for days.

"We all have friends who probably want to take advantage of the system, but respect it," Schodt said. "Respect that people got here and made an effort. In the end I want my friend there, but I also want that guy behind me, who is just as dedicated as me."

This will become even more of an issue this season as the student ticketing system changed again. Each student now has an assigned section, row and seat number with the first 500 students in the front of sections 32 and 33. Many see this as unfair to students who may not have the time or resources to camp out for tickets.

But those who are already at Camp Fargo have a different mindset.

"If you want to get front row, if you're dedicated enough, then there is no reason you shouldn't be out here,"  said 21-year-old business and management senior Tyler Moser, who is also among the first group in line for tickets. "We're all out here for a reason, we're all out here to support the Sun Devils and for people that get mad at us, they can be mad I guess but we're just out here doing our thing. We're not trying to effect anyone else. I know people think it's unfair because they don't have the time, but we all have school, we all have jobs. It's tough to manage but we make it happen, it's sad that some people can't come out but that's just how it is I guess."

Ummm we may have caused this...and the effect of social media

Sunday night House of Sparky sent out a tweet which said, "It's Sunday night, do you know where #CampFargo tent is?" According to Schodt, it was after that tweet was sent that many members of the 942 Crew started to stir.

"We had people text us after that saying ‘Are you guys camping out? Are people camping out?'" Schodt said. "They came over, checked, and nobody was here. We said ‘you know what, let's just do it.' "

Social media has played a large role in getting Camp Fargo off the ground. Although nobody really seems to know when it first appeared, the hashtag "#CampFargo" has found a home on Twitter and has been picked up and used by many local media. Early Monday morning, a Twitter account (@CampFargo) was created for people to follow along with the ongoing events at the camp. Other prominent accounts such as @ASUConfessions have also helped Camp Fargo become what it is today by promoting it and tweeting out pictures.

"You blow it up on social media and more kids know about it and more kids are going to come out and it becomes a bigger deal," Schodt said.

Local media has also come out to cover the event with features airing on local news stations around the Valley.

"We're not doing this for recognition, we're not doing this to get on TV or get all over Twitter," Moser said. "Even if it's not a big opponent, even if its not a big game we want to be out here. It shows how much we care, it shows support for the team."

Fostering a safe community

Every game might be excessive for some, but the camping isn't as rough as one might think.  Campers use power from Wells Fargo Arena and wrap extension cords around the building, then plug in power strips to charge cell phones and computers which can connect to the Arizona State wifi.

Security is provided, campers are able to use the restrooms inside Wells Fargo Arena and barricades have been set up to further protect those camping out.The Arizona State athletic department also makes sure things run smoothly. Associate Athletic Director Bill Kennedy checks in with the campers daily to make sure there aren't any issues.

"We all met each other through this stuff. We've all created so many friendships that are going to last a long time and that's why I'm so excited," Schodt said.

All of this has helped build a sense of community within Camp Fargo and the Arizona State players love it too. Freshman quarterback Manny Wilkins stopped by Monday to take pictures with campers.

The campsite is only expected to grow over the next few days. Moser and Schodt both estimated there would be 80-100 campers by Monday night and hoped for more than 1,000 by Wednesday.

"We're happy with the people out here right now and I think it will get bigger each night," Moser said. "We love coming out here we love getting in the front row and we love cheering on our Sun Devils and going crazy."