This is no ordinary campground.There’s a grounds crew that monitors trash pickups. High-profile guests—the trumpet section from the Penn State Blue Band, the Penn State cheerleaders, coaches from several Penn State teams—give advance notice that they’ll be stopping by. Food deliveries—pizzas, doughnuts, cookies—are regular occurrences.
This is Nittanyville, a patch of concrete at the base of Beaver Stadium that has been home most of this week to 812 Penn State students camping out in the days leading up to this weekend’s football game against Ohio State.
We interrupted Darian Somers late Thursday afternoon as he was painting a flag to show his support for Akeel Lynch, the Nittany Lions’ running back who hails from Canada. Darian usually waves a Canadian flag at games to make the running back feel right at home in Happy Valley. Given the Nittany Lions’ opponent this week—Ohio State, with its scarlet letters—Darian is going to keep the Canadian flag under wraps (“since we’re playing Ohio State this week, that would be kind of awkward”). Instead, Darien was painting a blue maple leaf on a white sheet to show Penn State’s true colors.
We asked Darian, a junior from Altoona majoring in print journalism who serves as Nittanyville’s public relations officer, to name five things that people might be surprised to know about Nittanyville. Here’s his list:
1. Class matters: “A lot of people think we never go to class. They see a tent community, and they saw it’s just a bunch of students who only care about football. That’s not true. We have some pretty smart people here who care about their schoolwork. I studied for two exams and wrote two papers while I was here this week so we do go to class, we do work here.”
2. Happy campers: “We have Internet out here. We have Wi-Fi. We have bathrooms. We don’t have showers, though. We have almost all of the amenities of home. The Wi-Fi allows us to do homework. Plus, on Thursday nights, we’ll watch Thursday Night Football.”
3. Weather or not: “We’re probably not right in the head. We camp through just about anything. Technically, we have to shut down when there’s thunder and lightning or when the temperature goes below 32 degrees but other than that we adjust. As long as we’re allowed to camp out here, we’re out here.”
4. It takes a village: “Not all of us are die-hard fans, but we all do it for the same reason. I’ve been going to games all of my life, there are people who have only been to a couple of games throughout their entire lives, and there are people who only come out here to do this just so they can say they did Nittanyville. Not all of us could tell you every single thing about every player, which is OK. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
5. Room and board: “The biggest tent at Nittanyville doesn’t belong to the organization’s officers. Actually, the officers have two of the smaller tents. We don’t have to have the biggest, greatest camping technology. As long as we have a place to put a cot, we’re good.”
Want to learn more about Nittanyville? Go to http://www.nittanyville.com/home/443#.