Thoughts on Top of Tinker Mountain

IT’S TINKER DAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Hollins students always wait anxiously as the month of October creeps by, hoping to hear those simple words.

So many different things mean Tinker Day has come:

  • seniors decked out in robes, banging pots and pans and screaming through dormitory halls
  • chapel bells ringing out at 7am, sharp
  • Krispy Kreme doughnuts gracing every counter top in Moody dining hall, a breakfast fit for climbers of Tinker Mountain
  • silly costumes (fairy wings, tiaras, bowties, hats, face paint, and above all – massive amounts of GLITTER)
  • President Gray in her crazy Tinker Day outfit, standing on the front steps of Main

Climbing Tinker Mountain means banding together in an attempt at dragging each other up the side of a mountain with sheer force of will and determination. Encouragements are shouted down the line of excited students hiking up the trail. Soon conversations start to dwindle as the climb gets steeper – the Hollins community is now a set of individuals hell bent on making it to the top of Tinker Mountain.

As you focus on putting one boot in front of the other, you can’t help but wonder at the first Hollins women to climb the mountain.

1895. That’s right – long dresses, heeled boots, tiny corsets – scrambling over the exact same rock faces that you are, only 120 years apart. The question just keeps running through your mind – how in the world did they do this and for the love of all things holy – WHY?

Then, you reach it. Senior Rock. The top of Tinker Mountain.

As you catch your breath you cheer on other students so close to the finish.

Exhaustion seeps away from you as you pose for photos in front of the view and laugh alongside peers that you suddenly seem that much more close to.

Songs are sung – bringing smiles, tears, and laughter.

Lunch is eaten – traditional fried chicken and chocolate Tinker Cake.

Skits are performed – with awards given to cheers that scratch your vocal chords in the best way.

By the time Tinker Day ends and you are back on campus, showering off and snuggling in for a much needed nap, the elation still hasn’t really left you.

More than any other day of the academic year at Hollins, Tinker Day brings the whole community closer than they’ve ever been before.

Tinker Day 2015 was October 24th – a beautiful fall day with clear skies and warm air.

Even these few days later as I am writing these words I don’t think the magic of Tinker Day has worn off just yet. My vocal chords still scratch, my calves still burn ever so slightly, and my heart still yearns for the view from Senior Rock.

Something happened the other day that made me smile though. Prospective students were visiting campus and I got to speak on a panel for them, then join their families for lunch. I received several questions that day, but my favorite was a simple one:

Hollins has so many traditions – how do you pick a favorite one?

My response was warm but uncomplicated.

Each tradition is my favorite because each one exists for a reason.

It’s like the campus knows exactly when to provide a day of community love and bonding. This past Thursday was Tinker Day and even if students chose to sleep in and not climb the mountain, the tradition was just what each person on campus needed.

Sleep, time for homework, exercise outdoors, dress-up opportunity, or needed interaction with the Hollins family – it didn’t matter what you found yourself lacking in the days before Tinker Day. Only that on that bright Thursday morning, a Hollins tradition gave you exactly what you needed.

I can’t wait for the next one.

View from Tinker Mountain