Facts about colleges you’ll visit during Camp

A fraternity pledge distantly related to one of the only two winners of the Jeff Foxworthy-hosted game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, the winningest pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball, what we can call “horseshoe nomenclature,” confusing calamities of intramurals, and a prank-obsessed late night talk show host. 

This amalgamation of educational trail mix is just a glimpse into what students can expect when they sign up to join us for ZinkerzCamp, as we tour Boston’s world-renowned academic systems. This blog also serves as the pilot of our two-part series documenting highlights from each of the schools that camp-goers will be visiting this summer. These facts and stories represent only the crust of the pizza that is ZinkerzCamp. There’s so many more aspects of the academic adventure! Sign up now to take part in the sauce, cheese, and [enter your preferred toppings here – even pineapple, if that familial disgrace of a dietary choice floats your boat!] of ZinkerzCamp this summer!

Boston-area Schools (BS, like bachelor of science) (there’s actually only 2 schools in Boston, so we can count Chestnut Hill and Cambridge)


In 2011, the word “smoot” was added to the American Heritage Dictionary, and its origin story extends back to MIT’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity’s shortest and “most scientifically named” pledge of 1958. 

Looking to make connections and become a part of a brotherhood in LCA, Oliver Smoot arrived on MIT’s campus in search of a group of friends he could be tied to for life as a professional. As a pledge activity, Lambda Chi Alpha proposed a challenge: measure and mark off the interestingly named Harvard Bridge — which spans from Boston to Cambridge across the Charles River and connects the Commonwealth’s capital city to MIT’s campus— in the goofiest way possible. How did the pledges do this? By having Oliver Smoot repeatedly somersault for two hours across over 2,000 feet of concrete. Towards the end, nausea began to get the best of Oliver, so the fraternity’s brothers made a makeshift stretcher out of their hands and forearms to transport Smoot across the remainder of the bridge in increments of just under six feet. Smoot could not have realized the vice grip that his 5 foot 7 inch frame could have on the fraternity and school as a whole. To this day the bridge’s length is listed officially as 2,164.8 ft (659.82 m) while the sidewalk linking Storrow Drive and Cambridge across the bridge has been measured to be 364.4 smoots +/- 1 εar in length. 

Today, the bridge is still marked in increments of 10 smoots. Each year, new pledge members are instructed to repaint the markings while the graduating class temporarily adorns the sidewalk with their graduating year’s marking. The 182.2 smoot mark is captioned “Halfway to Hell” with an arrow pointing towards MIT. When the bridge was to be renovated in the 1980’s Cambridge police officers lobbied for the markings to be left intact as they are often used by officers to describe locations across the bridge.

According to Boston tradition, it is customary for vehicle passengers to chant the name “Smoot” with incrementally increasing intensity and volume for the duration of the drive across the bridge. 


Northeastern University

Being headquartered in Boston, and with spring and summer right around the corner, we would be remiss to not mention the Boston Red Sox and their organizational legacy in this blog. Denton True “Cy” Young has been posthumously memorialized by Major League Baseball as the namesake for their annual award towards each league’s best pitcher. Having led the Red Sox to a championship in baseball’s inaugural World Series, Cy Young has been memorialized by both Boston and Northeastern with a statue of himself on the mound on campus.

Though they were nicknamed the Americans at the time, not the Red Sox, the Rally Rooters’ favorite team played their home games at Huntington Avenue Grounds before establishing their home base at Fenway Park in 1912, which they still call home today. Huntington Avenue Grounds once stood where Northeastern’s campus now presides, but has since been torn down. The spot where Cy Young pitched from is remembered by his statue. The statue stands between Northeastern’s Churchill and Hayden Halls, and features Cy Young poised in his signature stance, with his right hand gripping the ball behind his back and his gloved left hand on his knee. 

Northeastern is also home to the oldest ice hockey arena in the world. Built in 1910, Matthews Arena continues to hold home games for the Huskies’ men’s and women’s hockey teams over a century later.


Boston University

Originally based in Newbury, VT, Boston University was relocated from the Green Mountain state, residing briefly in the Granite state’s capital of Concord, NH, before establishing its home in Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore and Allston neighborhoods. While its mascot, Rhett the Terrier— named after Rhett from Gone With the Wind, because “No one loves Scarlett [the school’s official color, more than Rhett!”)— is more likely to be seen at hockey games, the most prominent sport from Boston University is one you’re likely unfamiliar with: broomball.

As this sport is brand new to every incoming freshman, be prepared to stink. And, with the rigorous course load at BU, prepare to remain bad at the sport. Nobody has time to practice, so the sport is all about having fun and goofing around with a team of new friends! Watching as a spectator, the game can only be described as a chaotic cornucopia of confusion. Combining ice hockey, golf, and curling, the only apparent goal seems to be to score more points in the most unorthodox ways possible.

Teams must have a minimum of six players, composed of at least three men and three women, and, in years past, the intramural league has seen over one hundred teams participate. In three periods of twelve minutes, players run on the ice with sneakers on their feet and helmets on their heads as they use their brooms (constructed from modified lacrosse sticks) to pass the ball back and forth until shooting it into the opposing net. While winning is fun, the most important aspect is being able to make a fool of yourself with your friends!

Bonus BU “fact”: Rumor has it that Red Sox games at Fenway Park can be seen from the roof of BU’s dorms with either a pair of binoculars or a heavy childhood diet of carrots. However, several Google searches and Reddit deep-dives did not corroborate this rumor. Google only provided deals and offers for tickets to tour Fenway as a BU student, while Reddit was a cesspool of former students complaining about COVID spoiling graduation two years ago. So, to verify this “fact,” you may have to do some snooping around the campus to find out for yourself.


Boston College

The sports teams at Boston College go by the nickname of the Boston College Eagles. Fun fact: every part of that name is wrong! While the school is called Boston College, it is technically a university, and is located about six miles west of downtown Boston in Newton, MA. Not only that, but the “eagle” mascot is actually in the image of a hawk. In 1923, a schooner off the coast of Cape Cod’s elbow at Chatham, MA rescued an exhausted hawk. The bird had tried to take refuge on the boat during a storm and had become entangled in their fishing gear. The bird’s resilience in the storm led the fishermen to present the bird to BC as a live mascot. 

So, in actuality, the school and its sports teams should be referred to as the “Newton University Hawks”. But, we’ll classify Boston College’s naming as “horseshoe nomenclature”, because it’s close enough and close only counts in horseshoes. Today, the Newton University Hawks Boston College Eagles are represented by both a costumed “Baldwin the Eagle” and an actual eagle, named Welles (after Welles Crowther), who lives nearby at the Franklin Park Zoo, and makes ceremonious appearances at their football games – especially against their rival schools from Worcester and Blacksburg, VA (Holy Cross and Virginia Tech, respectively).



Should we discuss how the Widener Library at Harvard, home to 3.5 million books, was donated to the school by an alumni who perished in the Titanic’s sinking? Or how the John Harvard statue is full of lies despite the motto of the school being Veritas, which is Latin for truth? Or how eight United States presidents have attended Harvard? Or how you can’t actually park your car in Harvard yard? As “the granddaddy of them all,” Harvard is most likely the college you think of when you first think of college. So, we’ve got to have the fact of facts when it comes to this blog for Harvard.

To set the scene: It’s the early-1980’s. The Boston Celtics are being led by the three-headed monster of Parish, McHale, and Bird. Whitey Bulger is having fun with the lottery. And Conan O’Brien is an undergraduate at Harvard. After stealing a jackhammer and several hard hats, Conan and a group of friends sequestered at a street corner in downtown Boston. As the friends began hacking away at the pavement, Conan went to a nearby payphone and called Boston police on himself and his friends. Almost immediately after hanging up on BPD, Conan called the Massachusetts state police claiming that he and his fellow construction laborers were trying to get their work done, but were being harassed by students dressed as police officers. 

As O’Brien anticipated, BPD arrived first to arrest the students. When the staties arrived on scene, they saw what looked like imposter cops harassing construction workers and began trying to arrest the officers of the Boston Police Department. Less celebrated than Smoot and Lambda Chi Alpha’s prank, Conan spent that night in jail in reparation for wasting the officers’ time. But, as Babe Ruth’s ghost says in the movie The Sandlot, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”



Will one of these schools be your new college home away from home? Did any of this new information sway you to want to learn more about Boston’s schools? Join us for ZinkerzCamp this summer to get a first-person perspective of these trivia tales!


Boston Adjacent (BA, like Bachelor of Arts) 

A “bear-y” innovative free-for-all curriculum, collegiate pipelines into professional careers, confusing calamities of intramurals, an entrepreneurial Earth, consortium castles, and a campus-wide ruckus of overdressed (and one taxidermied) elephants. Continuing from our previous blog where we highlighted assorted facts about some of the schools that will be visited during ZinkerzCamp, may we now present five more schools that campers will pay visits to this coming July. 

This smorgasbord of an academic buffet is just a peek into what students can expect when they sign up to join us for ZinkerzCamp, as we tour world-renowned academic systems adjacent to the city of Boston. These facts and stories only offer the anticipation of standing in line for the rollercoaster that is ZinkerzCamp. There’s so many more elements of this academic adventure! Sign up now to take part in the educational loop-de-loops of ZinkerzCamp this summer!



If you think naming the university after a color is boring, just know that it was originally founded as the “College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” so “Brown” is actually a great improvement. It was changed when Nicholas Brown donated $5,000 to the university in 1804 to help pay for students’ tuitions (In 1804, tuition for Brown was US$5. In today’s money that would be about US$120.22).

As an Ivy League institution, Brown obviously prides itself on the educational challenges it is able to present to its students. However, what makes Brown’s academics stand out is its “Open Curriculum” plan. Most colleges and universities lay out a blueprinted core curriculum that requires students, regardless of their major, to take certain courses while attending the school. Not fulfilling these requirements will result in a student not graduating. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at the core requirements at Boston College; one course in each of: arts, cultural diversity, literature, math, and writing and two courses in each of: history, natural science, philosophy, social sciences, and theology. At Brown, students can say “heck to all that!” Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students of any major to take any course they’d like to (and students can take any course as pass/fail). Brown allows their students to be the “architects of their own syllabus.” If you like economics, and would rather drink hydrofluoric acid than perform experiments with it because you don’t want to study chemistry, then don’t! 

Here’s a fun way to think of the curriculum that loosely relates to the school, as Brown’s athletic teams go by the nickname ‘the Bears’: earlier this year, residents near Lake Tahoe in California complained of a 500 lb (227 kg) black bear, named Hank the Tank, reportedly breaking into their homes upwards of one hundred times. Why it took one hundred burglaries for residents to notice a bear had been entering their homes remains a mystery to this writer. Anyway, Hank the Tank, as a bear, decided he didn’t want to eat salmon and jars of honey. Instead, he developed a hankering for Oreos, Hawaiian Punch, and Hillshire Farm (Go meat!) turkey. Hank the Tank broke the dietary mold for what it means to be a bear, just like Bears can break the mold of what it means to be students at Brown.


Have you seen this? Have you heard about this? Though this famous talk-show host only spent one semester in Waltham, Jay Leno often joins Charles Taylor, convicted Liberian war criminal and member of the class of ‘77, on Bentley’s list of notable alumni.

The Princeton Review has previously ranked Bentley University as the number one college in career services, and in the top five of this same category across America for the past eight consecutive years. The school also has ties to the Big 4 accounting firms (Deloitte, EY, PwC, and KPMG). Bentley students are often seen as top graduate candidates to fill employment opportunities at these firms. Thus, school heavily prides itself on being an investment for its students’ future professional careers. As a business-centric school, with 97% of students holding at least one internship during their four years of study, Bentley’s educational system is a developmental tool for business-centric students to swiftly enter the worlds of finance, economics, accounting, and actuarial science.

Not every student who goes to Bentley will become a career talk-show icon. Sorry to be the one to break that news, but NBC simply doesn’t have enough hours in the day to chat with every celebrity about their new NFT purchase. I’m not saying that you can’t become a host through Bentley, but just know that even if television doesn’t work out, Bentley is one of the best colleges in the country for ensuring that you’ll be able to find a fulfilling and rewarding career. 



With every student at Babson working towards the same degree, a bachelor of science in business administration (with concentrations in subjects such as entrepreneurship, accounting, and marketing), the business and self-advertising campus often speaks for itself. For instance, Babson’s campus is home to the Babson Globe – a 28-foot diameter, 25-ton globe located across the street from the Sorenson Art Center. When it was constructed in 1955, the globe was able to rotate, a feature which made it the world’s largest rotating globe (besides the world itself, of course). However, in the 60+ years since its construction, the globe has grown tired and gone into retirement – it no longer rotates, but it remains a staple of campus photography opportunities. 

For academics, every freshman student at Babson is required to take a course called ‘Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship.’ In this course, students create, pitch, manage, and start up their very own business with a budget of $3,000. Throughout the course, students will work to improve their ventures and continuously increase their profits. At the end of the year, students will liquidate their assets and donate the money resulting from the business to a Babson-associated charity of their choosing.



Despite being the youngest school on this list, Brandeis is strangely the only one known for its unique architecture, which has ties to 12th century Ireland. Resembling the old armory just down the street from Zinkerz’ headquarters, Usen Castle on Brandeis’ campus sets itself apart from the rest of the architecture around the school and the city of Waltham, where the school is established. The reasoning behind why Brandeis has a castle? It seems to be that Dr. John Hall Smith, founder of Middlesex College—the preceding proprietor of the land that Brandeis occupies—simply decided that the school could have a castle. Until 2017, the castle was used as a dormitory for students, but campus occupants have since been relocated to new residences in Skyline residence hall. Outside of Usen, there are seven campus buildings named “Shapiro,” so, if Brandeis is where you end up going, make sure you’re paying attention to which is which during orientation.

Brandeis is also a part of the Boston consortium. What does this membership mean? Well, as a Brandeis student, you have the option of simultaneously taking classes at nineteen other schools in the Boston area. Schools like Harvard, Tufts, Brown, Boston College, Northeastern, Amherst College, and Bentley are among the partnering members that open their syllabi to Brandeis students in addition to their own. Attending Brandeis could potentially be like attending all of these schools as well!



Before Beatlemania swept through the world, but after Genghis Khan tried to sweep through the globe, Europe was infected with Jumbomania – continental excitement to visit and see Jumbo, the first living African elephant to be brought to Europe. Throughout the 1880’s, Jumbo was a circus act that brought exhilaration to cities throughout Europe and the United States. People were losing their minds with anticipation as they raced to their Conestoga wagons to get a sight of the behemoth. Just as Wordle has become the new fad, and Silly Bandz commanded attention a decade ago, audiences swarmed the elephant and collected as much of the merchandise with Jumbo’s visage that they could hold.

Why are we talking about an elephant from over one hundred years ago? Well, NESCAC fans may be familiar with the name, but Tufts’ athletics teams go by the nickname “Jumbos” after this elephant. How did this come about? The ringleader of ringleaders, P.T Barnum (the T stands for Taylor, not Tufts), was an early benefactor of Tufts University. In 1889, Barnum donated the taxidermied body of Jumbo to Tufts to be put on display. Students would interact with the elephant’s hide by placing pennies into his trunk for good luck before exams. Morbidly, Jumbo’s body was destroyed in a fire in 1975, but his spirit lives on in the athletic department.

Because that fact is more sad than fun (at least towards the end there) here’s another one: in the 1970’s, Tufts students began a finals stress-relieving tradition where they would run around the quad in the nude – the Naked Quad Run, which was eventually banned by Tufts in 2011. Students also had their forearms decorated in Silly Bandz, and the school said this flew in the face of the sanctity of the NQR. In retaliation, students reclaimed the idea of converging to the quad to celebrate the end of the semester with a new tradition: the ‘Excessively Overdressed Quad Stroll.’ Seriously. Now, students wear opulent attire or layer on as much of their wardrobe as they can withstand, and take a painstakingly slow stroll through the quad in response to the NQR ban.



Will one of these schools be your new college home away from home? Did any of this new information sway you to want to learn more about Boston’s schools? Join us for ZinkerzCamp this summer to get a first-person perspective of these trivia tales!

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