Ditch Day begins
After many nights of going to bed in uncertainty, Caltech’s greatest tradition is here: Ditch Day. I wake up at 7:30 am and skateboard down to the Lloyd house kitchen. There, I wait with all the other not-in-house Lloydies until 8:00, when ear-piercing music starts to play and the seniors run around banging on every door. We all file out to the courtyard to see this -
Big Tim, one of my favorite seniors, explains how the sign-up for stacks works, and then warns everyone that the Phineas and Ferb stack(ditch day group) consists of paintball (“don’t sign up if you don’t want to get hit!”) - expectedly, this leads to everyone fighting over Phineas and Ferb spots.
I sign up with a few friends and get assigned to Team Isabella.
The first activity of the day consists of building a roller coaster with some provided materials and the environment around us, a throwback to the first Phineas and Ferb episode. As seen here, our group makes a track that consists of banked turns (from phys 1a), a loop (also from phys 1a), and other features. The judges correctly conclude that our roller coaster is better than the other teams, despite a one-story jump feature they implement.
We also get this incredibly photogenic shot of my teammates trying to build a jump which unfortunately only works during test runs.
Next, we enter a suspicious white tent where we learn that the nefarious Dr. Doofenshmirtz has planted these very dangerous-looking nuclear bombs as part of an evil plan. Unfortunately, unlike most of his gadgets, these bombs do not have a big red self-destruct button. Instead, we must cut the wires in a certain order to save the world. We hunt post-its around the area, complete a semantle, and finally puzzle out a truth table related to the cryptocurrency scheming of several Phineas and Ferb characters.
We clip the yellow wire, the green wire, and then the red wire. For a few femtoseconds, nothing happens and we completely expect a massive explosion to engulf the LA area. To our surprise, there actually was no nuclear bomb inside the suitcase!!
For our next adventure, we travel to the Geology building and discover that Perry the Platypus has been locked into a cage and the key is missing! First, we had to cross a dangerous obstacle course with lasers. Then, we solve a crossword, an alphabet puzzle, and a giant maze (which had been constructed around a rock sample in the middle of the table - geology amiright). This leads to a 3D printed puzzle lock and a key which we use to free the unfortunate platypus.
Our team. Me, pictured, placing Perry back in the cage due to his lack of appreciation for our efforts.
Obstacle Course and Building
After lunch at the park behind the track, we head to the next activity - the seniors have set up an obstacle course/ build challenge. We have to bear crawl under “barbed wire” (yarn), climb up a tunnel, jump a hurdle, and crab walk on floaties, all while carrying equipment for towers. After the crab walk, we are then forced to wheelbarrow across the Gene Pool with our partners.
Pictured: Jonah and Aditya wheelbarrowing across the pool with newspapers and a basket.
After all the materials were transported, we set about building the highest tower possible. The rules are very unclear with regard to what constituted a tower, so my team goes up to the skywalk and throws down a basket attached to unrolled duct tape.
For the last activity of the day, we get into cars and drive up to a paintball place. After receiving safety instructions from the staff, we play 4 games of capture the flag. The games go back and forth, but for the final one, we are told that we can play until we give up - we don’t have to go out when we are shot until we can’t take the pain anymore. Camping behind cover (as I had been doing the whole time), I nervously peek over every 30 seconds or so before quickly ducking back down. Suddenly, I hear a burst of fire from several paintball guns to my left. I look over and Ryan, another one of my favorite seniors, is walking down the lane right at us. My teammates are shooting him with paintballs from behind cover but he keeps walking as if he has a force field. I shoot him a few times and duck in anticipation, but he has at least three people firing at him and doesn’t even notice. After running out of ammo, instead of taking cover, Ryan simply begins to reload in place while standing in the open. This was a truly terrifying sight and I soon surrender. Later, Ryan tells me he was trying to recreate a scene from the matrix where bodyguards with bulletproof armor reload in the open.
The Lloyd Seniors! Ryan, pictured center, with paint on almost every square inch of his body
After all this, we have tacos in the Lloyd courtyard and then take pictures.
Pictured: All of Lloyd Ditch Day Participants
Center: Big Tim
Ditch Day was truly an unforgettable experience - it really took me back to the days of being a kid at summer science camp, completing high-level challenges, and forgetting about school for twelve hours.