Amanda Blagg

Outside the Tines with Amanda

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Camp Fargo: A College Football Tradition

Spending a week in a tent with a beautiful mountainous desert backdrop, clear, starry night skies and friends makes for the perfect fall Arizona getaway close to home. The newest hotspot for such an experience? Arizona State University. If you haven’t kept up with the latest craze for diehard Sun Devil student football fans, nicknamed Camp Fargo, a quick drive by Wells Fargo Arena will reveal hundreds of ASU students camped out. What moves these students to spend a week sleeping outside next to the football arena? Sun Devil football, of course.

For my first couple years as an ASU student, we were lucky enough to have assigned seats in the student section, which meant no standing in line to get the closest seat possible. Now, students are camping out days before games for a wristband to ensure a front row student section spot.

This isn’t the beginning of Camp Fargo; students have been camping out for tickets for several seasons.  ASU senior, Jesus Castillo’s first time camping out for a prime spot in the student section was the Territorial Cup game vs Arizona in 2011. The History major recalls how he thinks the name Camp Fargo came to be. “I’ve camped for many games…I think the official name started at the camp out for U of A in 2013. We tried to use other names to describe it, I think OccupyWFA was one of the names, but we were joking around and a friend of mine, I think it was Kaytee Chincarini, said Camp Fargo and we just ran with it.” Castillo joined Camp Fargo for this week’s game vs Notre Dame on Sunday morning when security cleared for the line to begin. Sunday morning was the allowed time in an effort to prevent students from missing the Utah game due to being in line for the Notre Dame wristbands.

Camp Fargo has grown popularity this season, partly due to the established name. The camp has its own Twitter account and is generating interest on social media similar to traditionally acknowledged student sections in other college stadiums. Campers are tweeting about the experience and sharing the goings on through photos and 140 character updates. The area around Wells Fargo Arena has been gated off for the campers and their gear. The essentials for campers, Castillo says, are cases of water, a sleeping bag/mattress, a laptop for school work and entertainment, an extension cord/surge protector, comfortable clothes and most importantly, good vibes. “A common misconception is that people at Camp Fargo have joke majors or blow off class in order to camp out. People do go to class/work,” Castillo said.

Covering shifts at camp is quite important this season especially, as security greets people joining the line with rules for Camp Fargo. The rules are new for this season and the one that’s most crucial for campers is the check-ins every four hours to make sure tents are not left unattended. Tents left unmonitored will be taken out of line and upon return campers can choose to rejoin at the end of the line. Castillo’s not concerned about the addition of rules for camp this season, “Lately, it’s been a little stricter but it’s mostly about spending your free time at the camp out, making your face known and having your friends vouch for you in case you need to leave for class. Some rules are basic and some rules have a back story, clean up after your pets for example was put on there because someone brought a pet pig to the arena.” New for the Notre Dame camp out is the “Camp Fargo Gazette”, a newsletter that includes a “Camper of the Day” and “Tweet of the Day” along with camp rules and line check times. The addition of the Gazette encourages tweeting about this ASU tradition and the #campfargo continues to trend on Twitter.

We know that the students of Camp Fargo are dedicated ASU football fans but why is it so important to camp out when you would still get into the game without spending nights on the concrete? Castillo says “I love ASU athletics and I love being front row at games…it’s my senior year and my last football season as a student so I’m trying to soak in as many memories as possible. Camp Fargo is definitely an experience that all Sun Devils should do because it’s a unique experience and it promotes school spirit.” His favorite thing about Camp Fargo is getting to meet all the new people who care about ASU as much as he does and walking down the line and seeing people bring their dorms or apartments to the camp site.

The way Camp Fargo is joining students who share immense Sun Devil pride and ASU football support is creative and encouraging. Campers are also getting support from players and coaches, often in the means of food and photo ops. Sometimes the players visit Camp Fargo to hang out and play video games. Last year, Coach Graham brought pizzas to the campers and they sang him Happy Birthday. Those shared moments between ASU football fans and the players and coaches they covet are priceless, worth every hour spent outside Wells Fargo Arena.

So, after nearly a week of camping out for a good spot in the student section of Sun Devil Stadium, what if the Devils don’t win the game? Does the time at Camp Fargo then feel wasted? Castillo doesn’t think so, in fact the relationships he’s gained through camping out on the concrete make the chilly nights entire worth it, “Even if the team loses, I think it’s still worth the experience because of all the people you meet. I got closer to some of the people from Camp Fargo I now consider my best friends after last year’s Pac-12 Championship loss.”

There’s still time to join Camp Fargo before the game on Saturday. However, If you’re not a student ready to pack up your gear and set up camp outside Sun Devil Stadium, you can still support Camp Fargo. If you’re near campus, students are sure to appreciate food donations at any hour. Donuts for breakfast and pizza for lunch or dinner are great ways to encourage struggling college students and their loyalty to ASU football.

As the tradition of Camp Fargo grows, so does the related social media and will the national coverage and buzz. Let’s continue to bring out the positive and astounding ASU football support for the NCAA football world to see and just maybe we will get ESPN College GameDay to make the trip to Tempe.

About Amanda Blagg

Amanda Blagg

Amanda is a 2002 Arizona State graduate. When she began at ASU in 1998, so began her love of Sun Devil football. She and her husband, also an ASU alum, have had football season tickets since then and travel to road games every season. They are currently raising two little Sun Devils. Her eight year old son was born a Devil; he began singing the fight song before bed when he was two. Some of her son's happiest moments have been on the field at the spring games; when Coach Graham tweeted a photo of him and when he got to meet Coach Graham at the Utah game in 2013. The Sun Devil Pride & Passion runs deeply in the Blagg family and Amanda strives to share her passion with you in Outside the Tines.

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