By Louisa Benatovich, ECS Student Reporter
The first day of summer vacation inspires a sense of joy and excitement only otherwise felt by children on Christmas morning. Students anxiously await this day, pencils drumming on desks, eyes fixed on the clock. As soon as that final bell rings, they rush from the school building, a frenzied, screaming mass akin to the bulls of Pamplona. This momentous occasion, extolled in countless works of prose and film, is the lauded catalyst for all things good. Glorious summer—the time of sunshine, suntans, and sunburns— is when you get to sleep late, do nothing, and not feel bad about it. Summer vacation, the movies proclaim endlessly, is when your dreams come true!
The older we get, the more the prospect of summer seems un-dreamlike. Gone are the days of the Park Program, soccer camp, and lazing away at the Holiday Valley Pool. Now, as high schoolers, we work at these locations. Sure, we are blessed with no more homework or tests, but (I think this is Newton’s First Law) an object at rest stays at rest, and a void left by stress will be filled by more stress. Boy, does summer provide some lovely gems to replace its anxiety-inducing predecessors. Are you going on vacation as a family? Well, let’s fit some college visits in, too. There, the red-bricked buildings will laugh at you: “Hahaha, I’m going to wring your bank account dry while gifting you chronic sleep deprivation.”
For our dedicated coaches, summer is merely preseason. Soccer and football coaches facilitate workouts, often deathly early. We are grateful for these, for both the sweaty euphoria felt immediately post-workout and how surprisingly strong our bodies have become on the first days of practice in August, but the early mornings take their toll. With summer workouts come summer nap schedules.
Summer is a dangerous thing—a veritable eternity of endless time. What is today’s youth supposed to fill it with? In the glory days, we used our imaginations. Little boys enjoyed bottle rockets, plastic soldiers, and being rowdy. Little girls became princesses, played school, and promenaded plastic dolls down the porch. Thankfully, we’ve edged away from these restrictive gender expectations. We’ve been thrust into the age of technology. In the two weeks after school ends and before summer activities start, we see a change. Deprived of routine and social interaction, students resort to the screen. Hours upon hours of mind-numbing, eye-straining video games and television become the Black Hole of Discipline and Action. Suggestions to go outside, play cards, or even just sit and talk, are met with excuses. “It’s too hot” is my favorite. Have you forgotten your desperate pleas for summer every day since November? As we hit our teens, we slowly break these habits. I’ve gotten 13-year-old boys to agree to make a daily schedule for the summer. I believe the guilt of doing nothing increases with each summer after 6th grade. Now, these boys and girls latch onto their summer reading projects, desperate for routine to return.
If you act wisely, summer is a gift. Two months of time to travel, make money, intern, exercise, apply for all things imaginable, learn to drive, see relatives, catch up with old friends, and figure life out. Sadly, our summers can no longer be for doing nothing. Summer gives us an opportunity to balance our lives, and achieve personal goals that may have otherwise been hindered by school. We have to remember that as adults, summers of rest and relaxation don’t exist. Until we retire, our years will become all flow and rarely ebb. Whether we like it or not, our summer mentality will become increasingly less distinct from our professional one, like our childhood is slowly slipping away. As students at any age, we must balance “work” so we feel like we deserve the “play” because, unfortunately, summer will be gone before we realize it started.