Tag Archives: summer

Summer at Sea

By Greg Lennon

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4 minute read]

Each summer, members of the US Navy ROTC program are required to participate in summer training.  The nature of this training depends on the class standing of the student, or “midshipman” as we’re ranked in the Navy.  Last summer, I spent a month in San Diego with my peers learning the ins and outs of the Navy as an ROTC member.  This summer, I would get a more hands on experience: living on a ship for over six weeks.

I was assigned to be living and working on the USS Shoup, a Destroyer that would be operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for the summer.  Our orders were to first embark on a week-long period at sea called PACDRAGON where we would be doing joint Naval exercises with the Japanese and Korean Navies.  Then, we would enjoy two weeks in port at Pearl Harbor before returning to sea for 24 days for the international exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Joining me on the ship were five other midshipmen from universities across the country, including one of my classmates from USC.  While on the ship, we were assigned “running mates,” crewmembers who we would shadow to get an immersive experience in regard to ship life.  My running mate was a technician for the ship’s radar systems, an unbelievably demanding job.  Because my running mate had such a technical job, I was free to roam the ship for much of the day (usually after finishing a morning’s hard work).  Every day on the ship starts at 6:00 AM, with a morning wake up call song played over the ship’s intercom.  After an early breakfast, each division on board the ship holds its daily meeting, followed by mandated cleaning.  Since I had no real responsibilities onboard, I was released after cleaning to work out, unless my running mate had other plans for me.  Afterward, the ship’s crew convenes for lunch, and then back to work.  Every day at sea holds something different; each day we would partake in a different exercise, whether it be testing weapons systems, meeting up with members of foreign navies, or refueling at sea.  After dinner, we were released to our living spaces to relax for the evening.  Most of our nights on board were spent rewatching movies, playing cards, or getting extra sleep before the next day’s early start.

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Solo Summer Adventures

By Rachel Priebe

[3 minute read]

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

Growing up, I often spent part of my summers traveling with family or friends. To me, travel was an opportunity to discover new places, as well as to strengthen bonds with my loved ones. It was not until my first semester of college, however, that I found myself completely alone in an unfamiliar setting. I spent my fall semester at the American University of Paris. Other than the architecture, world-renowned art museums, and cafes, what I appreciated most about Paris was its location. Living in Paris put me in close proximity to other amazing cities in Europe that I wanted to visit. Within my first couple of months in Paris, I had already been on several weekend trips with friends and on a study trip to Warsaw, Poland. In the middle of the semester, we had a week off for fall break. The city that was on the top of my list to visit was Munich, Germany. Unfortunately, all of my friends wanted to spend their fall break elsewhere. Thus, I found myself venturing out on my first solo adventure.

Since that week in Germany, I have taken several trips on my own. The majority have been brief weekend trips, but I have recently taken a trip in which I spent over a month traveling in the Balkans. The greatest benefit that I have found in embarking on these trips alone is the immense sense of freedom you feel. Solo travel can make you feel unrestricted and give you a healthy sense of independence. When you travel alone, all of your decisions – about where to stay, where to eat, and which tourist attractions to visit- are your own and don’t have to be filtered through the minds and desires of other people. Another benefit that comes with this sense of freedom is spontaneity. When you only have yourself to account for, it is easier to make decisions on the spot. You can arrive at the airport without a concrete plan and then make up your route as you go along.

Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash

A third reason to travel alone is that it gives you the opportunity to meet new people. I have found that when I travel with friends or family, I end up spending time exclusively with those people. While that is a great way to strengthen already existing relationships, travel is an invaluable opportunity to have new experiences, and one of the most enriching experiences is meeting new people who come from different backgrounds. There is a misconception that traveling alone is a lonely and solitary endeavor. This could not be further from the truth. When you travel unaccompanied, you instantly make yourself seem more approachable. It also becomes easier to go outside of your comfort zone and build connections with people who would have otherwise remained strangers.

Photo by Luca Baggio on Unsplash

Some of the most fascinating people I have met have been fellow solo travelers at hostels. I have found that people who travel frequently tend to be very free-spirited and full of interesting stories. Furthermore, bonding with more experienced travelers is an effective way to obtain travel advice. For example, when I was in the Balkans, I made most of my decisions regarding which places to visit based on the recommendations of fellow travelers.

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The Culture of Sleep Away Camp

By Katie Stone

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Most people have little knowledge of sleep away camp aside from classic movies like “The Parent Trap” and “Meatballs”.  The image that comes to mind when most people think about sleep away camp is of canoeing on a lake, tie-dying t-shirts, or making s’mores and telling stories around a campfire.  The truth is, all of these things certainly exist at sleep away camp, but there is so much more that is involved in this American summertime tradition.

Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

As a child growing up in the state of New York, my summers always took place at sleep away camp, where I’d spend my days in nature among friends. If you’ve never heard of sleep away camp, it’s a summer-long activity-driven community for children and teens. I have had my fair share of bracelet making and song singing, although my favorite part of camp is undoubtedly interacting with all of the people I’ve met over the years.  Because there are about 100 girls at my camp, and 200 boys at the neighboring “brother” camp, it is safe to say I recognize every face I see.  I can walk down the stunning lakefront path to the dining hall and see friends ranging in age from 8 to 21. There is a certain bond that forms between people who live together in an isolated, yet self-sufficient mini-world that is sleep away camp, and this made this a very memorable part of my childhood.

One of the strongest and most tight-knit communities I belong to is my sleep away camp.  Tucked away in the serene Adirondack mountains, camp is home to a small group of kind, creative, and unique people. The sense of comfort is so strong in this small, lakeside oasis that every person feels like a member of a family. We admire each other’s passions, supporting one another in everything from sports to plays to painted masterpieces; I have never felt more at home in a place besides my own house.  Growing up as a camper, I learned fun lessons from my counselors: how to french-braid hair, craft string bracelets, and effectively mouth words to songs that I was too young to memorize.  They taught me the games, songs, and customs that bind our camp community together, making sure to promote camp spirit.  Now that I am a counselor, I feel that it is my duty to highlight these traditions and pass down the skills I learned to my campers to demonstrate how special this place truly is.

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