When an experience blows your mind, it leaves a permanent mark. That being the case, I schemed about Ditch Day a lot during my sophomore (s’more) and junior years.
One of my favorite parts of ditch day was how it led to the discovery of parts of campus that I didn’t even know existed and seeing other parts in a whole new way. As a frosh, our stack experienced the “X marks the spot” scene from The Last Crusade by standing on the 9th floor of the library (where I’d never set foot) and seeing a huge painters tape X on an unexplored rooftop.
Then, as a s’more, our Ditch Day quest led us (on mine-cart-like skateboards) into a maze of drainage tunnels that I didn’t even know existed.
As with any creative process, making a stack involves improving on that which came before. I asked myself: “how could I take the thrill of discovery to the next level?”
Of course! I could build a part of campus specifically for my stack and hide it in plain sight. For the freshmen, this hidden stack component would have always been part of their reality without their knowledge and the the classes below me would need to barely notice the change (and hopefully forget or attribute it to the frenetic housing office.) Imagining the rush of discovery that all was not as it had seemed for months or years drove my imagination.
My thoughts first went to living things, whose natural changes over time would mask any artificial changes of mine. Perhaps I could seed a clue amongst a grove of swift – growing bamboo? Too expensive. Perhaps I could embed a clue in trees around campus and let the bark grow around it? It would take too much time. (Though this was done with RFID transceivers to great effect years later.)
Finally, I figured out the solution. After weeks of careful planning, in the dead of night, my co-stacker Oren and I put our plan into motion. We timed it so that it was during the dead period of the summer, after most underclassmen staying for research or jobs had left and before frosh arrived on campus for the year. We worked through the night, covered our tracks, and then waited. And you will have to wait as well (though not as long.)
To be continued…