Most students spend the school year wishing it were summer. And as the end quickly approaches, students are in ready positions in the edges of their seats, waiting for the final bell to ring so that they can sprint into summer break. Many of these kids are blinded by the idea that summer means warm weather, no alarm clocks, and no homework. But they have neglected to consider that summer is far from a break.
I remember a time when the June through August months were relaxing and leisurely. Kids spent endless days at the beach or the pool, tanning, eating, sleeping, then doing it all over again. But, at some point, summer break stopped being a break. As I plan my own summer out and watch my classmates and friends plan their summers, I can’t help but wonder: What ever happened to summer break?
For me, and for many other students in the area, athletics consumes a large part of summer. If student athletes expect to make it through tryouts in August, they will most likely spend almost everyday of summer practicing their sports and getting into tip-top shape. Even if they don’t play a fall sport, their coaches will probably be running summer workouts, or expecting players to attend summer camps with their team mates. And then there are the students who play on club teams outside of school to keep up their skills. It’s probable that their teams will expect them to attend practices, games, and a plethora of summer tournaments. For athletes, the time between school years is anything but restful.
The end of the school year should indicate the end of schoolwork. But in reality, summer often means spending time doing a variety of school related activities. Of course, there’s the usual summer packets and suggested reading that all students are forced to complete before the first day of school. But with the rigor of high school schedules and academically competitive area we live in, many students have begun to engage in much more school-oriented work over the summer. There are summer classes that high schools offer to help kids get a leg up on the classes they will be taking the following year. There are summer classes that colleges offer to give kids college credits before they graduate high school. And then there are online classes that students can utilize to obtain credits for required classes so that they can fill their school year schedules with more challenging courses, or courses that interest them more. There are numerous students who will spend the majority of summer doing exactly what they did all year long: reading, writing, copying down notes, studying, and taking tests.
Sports are and schoolwork are certainly not the only things holding teens back from experiencing serene and relaxed summers. Many teenagers will spend their summer months getting a taste of the real world by working. Students have been known to work a variety of summer jobs, ranging from ice cream scooper to front desk manager at a doctor’s office. Most kids need jobs to gain experience in the workforce, and many of them want jobs in order to afford the necessities of adolescent life, including gas to fill their cars, clothes to fill their wardrobes, and food to fill their stomachs. In addition to the basic jobs that many kids will have during the summer, there are also many other opportunities for students to work. Several students will obtain internships for the summer or participate in volunteer work. Whether it is for the purpose of building a résumé, earning some extra cash, fulfilling Student Service Learning requirements, or simply pursuing an interest, there are probably more students than not who will be doing some sort of work this summer.
Athletics, academics, and employment are just a few of the things that students will be occupied with throughout the summer, but there are countless other things that teens will partake in between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. Between field hockey team camp, lacrosse clinics, summer workouts, calculus prep classes, and a couple of jobs, I know that I am just one of many students who will be incredibly physically and mentally active this summer. And while I often wish that things could go back to how they used to be, with long, sunshine-filled days by the pool, I realize that much of what I am filling my summer with is worth sacrificing some sun-tanned skin for. And there will still be plenty of time in between the busy, action-packed summers of teens to take a long nap, eat some watermelon, head down to the beach, or just lay back, relax, and take a break.