While some students were stressing over an internship or college prep over the summer, Blythe Berk ’19 was sitting around a campfire at the edge of a lake, making s’mores with her camp friends.
“I felt like going back to camp to see all my friends was more important to me than preparing for colleges because it’s just a good break where I get to relax,” Berk said.
While Berk said she does think using the summer to prepare for college is beneficial, she still decided to go to camp.
“So many kids spend their summers preparing for college and although it’s very important, I have been waiting all year to see my friends from Toronto at camp,” Berk said.
She said she believes that every student has a different idea of how to spend their summers.
“I would say it depends on the person,” Berk said. “For me, summer is a time where I can take a break from school and stress.”
Upper school Counselor Luba Bek agrees that summer is different for every student. She recommends that students spend some time working but reserve the majority of their time for fun.
“I think a healthy balance is key. I would say 40 percent hard work and 60 percent fun,” Bek said.
However, Bek said she believes there is a distinction between having fun while working and really enjoying the summer.
“That’s not to say having an internship is not fun, but this is not the kind of fun I’m talking about,” Bek said. “I’m talking about free time. Hanging out with friends in town and going to see a movie, that is fun.”
Tali Perluss ’18 also spent the summer having fun at camp as a counselor-in-training. As a counselor-in-training, Perluss spent time with campers in third through eighth grade for most of the day. Perluss has been going to camp for 15 years and thought it was fun to be with her friends.
“I love working with young children and the people I consider to be some of my closest friends go to camp, so this summer was a way for me to spend more time with them,” Perluss said.
Perluss did not consider a different way to spend her summer because she believes summer should be primarily for fun.
“In my opinion, I spend all year preparing for college and school,” Perluss said. “Summer is my time off. My camp is my definition of fun.”
Other students travelled over the summer. They worked on projects or with community service organizations and relaxed on beaches and toured cities.
Bella Carino ’19 spent her summer in Europe with her family and volunteering in Nicaragua. In addition to traveling, she also worked at an internship.
“We planned a lot of the trip around a Greek wedding we were attending and while I was in London I did an internship at the Victoria and Albert Museum,” Carino said.
While she enjoyed her travelling, Carino also appreciated her internship and volunteer work.“I think it’s important to gain a variety of experiences at this age so that was the main motive behind that internship,” Carino said.
Bek said she believes many students do not spend their summers being idle. However, she said she hopes they find something to do that they enjoy rather than something boring just to put it on their resumes for college.
“Not forcing yourself to do something you really dislike is important,” said Bek. “Finding something that is both work and fun would probably be the most realistic way of approaching real life.”
Will Berlin ’19 also travelled over the summer in an effort to enhance his debate skills and assembled a portfolio for photography competitions next year, while still taking time off this summer.
“My summer plans were just decided by what I enjoy,” Berlin said. “I like debate and photography so I spent some time working to improve those [activities], while having fun doing it. I also travelled Europe during that time for a much-needed break.”
Although he prepared for his extracurricular activities during the summer, Berlin said he primarily wanted to have a good time.
“I definitely enjoyed that my summer was more fun-oriented,” Berlin said. “Colleges didn’t really come to mind; it was more about doing what I wanted to do.”
Although colleges have become an influential force for students planning for the summer, upper school Dean Adam Howard believes they should not dictate a summer schedule.
“There is no ‘big summer thing’ that a student can do that is going to have some major game-changing effect on their college process,” Howard said. “What a student does over the summer is just part of the overall application.”
Many students end up preparing for classes or tests during the summer, which Howard believes can be both monotonous but sometimes necessary.
“Some students may need to prep over the summer if their schedule necessitates it. Perhaps [if] someone knows that athletics takes up a chunk of their year, they might get a head start during the summer,” Howard said.
On the other hand, Bek is strongly opposed to spending a summer in that way, since she thinks the SAT prep classes are neither relaxing nor engaging.
“What a lot of people do is go to a SAT boot camp and that is an absolute no-no for me,” Bek said. “It is mechanical. Taking and retaking over and over. I don’t consider that fun.”
Although these students spent their summers traveling, at camps or internships, some said they considered having fun and being with friends to be more important than school responsibilities.
“It’s important to do what you want to do over summer and not think about how it will look on a college app because now is the time that you can have fun as a kid,” Perluss said. “Now is the time you can go to summer camp instead of work, and I think it’s important to take that opportunity when you can.”