The Overlooked Purpose of Summer
by Eliza Scharfstein on Friday, June 6th, 2014
It’s that time of year again: the book fair opens, students hand in their DYOs, and senior girls obsess over prom dresses. It’s summertime. Of course, the start of summer means that everyone will soon go in different directions, whether that’s off to internships, different countries, the beach, or the living-room couch. We are finally free of the stresses Milton ensues. We can, at long last, relax.
Nowadays, however, letting oneself relax doesn’t come so easily to everyone. While many of us would rather watch Grey’s Anatomy than do a math problem set during the school year, we still get that nagging feeling that emphasizes doing work instead of procrastinating. A reasonable amount of stress is beneficial during the school year; it drives us to get done what needs to be done. Summer is the exception; it is a time when we should be relieved of this stress. The summer is for sleeping, dancing, drawing, swimming, and even working if that’s what we truly want. It is a time when we should make our own choices in the interests of happiness and fulfillment, ignoring the pressures of college applications and long résumés. While definitely important, applications and résumés—even homework—are best done when we are focused, and, as everyone who has worked in the demanding Milton environment knows, we focus best when relaxed and rejuvenated. As a student takes a power nap before finishing a history essay, we should also take three months off before going back to nine months of work.
This summer, I am returning to camp. When I tell people this, I often must add, “Yes—I still go to summer camp.” Sometimes, I wonder if I should be doing something else. Does spending two months singing songs and making friendship bracelets mean that I miss out on many other opportunities? Then I remember that summer is the one time of the year that we are all allowed—and encouraged, let’s not forget—to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of high school life. For others, the idea of a relaxing summer might be interning at a lab, but for me, letting loose at summer camp is my favorite way to spend the best months of the year. We should, to the best of our abilities, spend at least part of our summers doing something we enjoy.
When asked about his summer plans, James Little (II) said, “Along with an internship, I’m going to be an assistant marine biology teacher in Woods Hole, MA and (ugh!) work on my college essay.” He added, “I’m most excited about seeing friends on the Cape whom I don’t get to see during the year.” Of course, we all have some summer responsibilities—college applications, in James’ case—but even this hardworking junior feels it important to also take time to catch up with friends and spend time enjoying his time off.
In an April 17th Harvard Crimson article, student James C. Barton wrote about the very reasonable decision to go through summer without participating in a fancy program to develop an extensive resume. Barton states, referencing public posting of acceptances to these programs, “By publishing acceptances so prominently on social media, we perpetuate the myth that the only route to a successful summer is through an expensive, intensive program in a foreign country. It would seem that the notion of having ‘just a summer job, at home’ has been stigmatized to the point of irreconcilable inferiority…This is neither the case nor an acceptable course to maintain.”
Many other Milton students are planning to to take advantage of summer and do what they enjoy. Emmie Atwood (I) said that her summer will include “spending time with family and friends” and “going to Paris with one of [her] close friends,” among other things. Ellie Lachenauer (IV) wrote, “I am going to a camp at Brown University about analytical writing and…a series of basketball camps and tournaments.”
Whatever our plans for summer entail, we should all try to devote at least some time in these couple of months to doing what we love. That way, when we return to school, we can work onward with with clear minds and ample energy to last the year.
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