The Quaker Matchbox: Featuring Third-Generation Member Ben Camp ’05

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Out of 19,295 Swarthmore alumni, 2,958 are married to each other. That’s about 2 in 15 – not quite the 1 in 5 ratio that Jim Bock promised us at orientation (look two to your left, look two to your right…), but still pretty impressive. Food for thought on Valentine’s Day?

The term Quaker Matchbox is almost as old as the College itself, and the college doesn’t shy away from the label. In 2005, the Alumni Council even considered creating a Swat alum online dating service. According to the Alumni Council Minutes, the idea was rejected in favor of a social networking service that would foster relationships both romantic and non-romantic. Furthermore, a “presentation of ‘’ made that service seem highly promising as a vehicle for a Swarthmore-based dating service,” and plans for a website run by Swarthmore were scrapped.

This Marry a Swattie online dating service never materialized, but that hasn’t stopped Ben Camp ’05 from becoming a third-generation member of the Matchbox. Ben is currently Artistic Director of his theater company, Team Sunshine Performance Corp, and the Children’s Religious Life Program Coordinator for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. His wife, Sarah Gladwin Camp ’04, runs Zoomdance, which provides action-adventure storytelling dance classes to kids 18 months to 6 years. We interviewed Ben to better understand the intricacies of Swarthmore dating.

DG: How did you and your wife meet?
BC: We met in a movement theater class. We were assigned to the same group on the first collective assignment, and realized we got along pretty well. Granted, she was dating someone else long distance at the time, but I think it worked out at the end. I first noticed her because I liked her earrings. They had nice colors, and I wanted to poke them. This is true. So I guess that’s either fate, or I have the same interests as a kitten. We have a kitten now, by the way. She spends most of her time batting at things that are shiny. I can totally relate.  

DG: Your parents?
BC: Don’t remember. Probably something like Parrish Beach, blah blah, tripped over Adirondack chair, blah blah, eyes met, love, blah, etc.  

DG: Your Quaker Matchbox grandparents?
BC: They met at orientation. They struck up a conversation about some ridiculous giant name-tag/signs the women had to wear in those days and it went from there. Grandma was a total badass.

DG: Any notable similarities or eerie coincidences in the three stories?
BC: We all lived in the same freshman room in Willets! We didn’t actually, I was in Mertz my freshman year, but wouldn’t that be trippy?

DG: In your expert opinion, where’s the best place to meet your one true love on the Swarthmore campus? Best place for a date?
BC: Yikes. I’m definitively not an expert in anything that even resembles dating. Or anything that might one day resemble dating, after a regimen of training, and vitamin supplements. I would say the best place for a date at Swarthmore is anyplace not on campus you actually go on a date. At restaurants, or a movie theater, or another place where currency is exchanged for services and you don’t know anyone else in the room except for your date. Bowling is always fun. Who doesn’t like bowling? 

DG: When you came to Swat, did you feel any pressure from your family to find your soulmate?
BC: I didn’t at all. It really wasn’t the plan. Which is probably why it happened. 

DG: What will your reaction be if your kids marry outside the bubble?
BC: I will end them in cold blood. Publicly. With my disappointment and rejection and fists.

DG: Anything else to say? Words of wisdom for the lonely-hearted?
BC: For the lonely-hearted: You cannot even conceive of the amount of pornography there is on the internet.

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