Only time in summer is island time


Quotes from my summer:

"Hey Dave, what time is it?"

"Hey Dave, when do we eat?"

"Hey Dave, do we have to go night snorkeling? Won't the sharks eat us?"

My answers, in chronological order: "island time," "half past a coconut" and "yes, but sharks only eat scared scouts." 

Working at a High Adventure Boy Scout Camp (yes, not just an Adventure, a "high adventure") in the Florida Keys, I found that kids constantly ask questions. Whether they were from Ohio, Texas, Minnesota, Kentucky, Iowa or New Jersey, they had a difficult time just relaxing, especially those from New Jersey. 

No, they didn't act like the idiots from MTV's Jersey Shore, though one of them had apparently met Ronnie. "I see this guy coming down the street, and he looks like Ronnie, so I go, ‘come at me bro,' and then I realize it is Ronnie, and I was like [explicit Jersey slang here]."

As you may have gathered, between night snorkeling, deep sea fishing, canoeing across the ocean and traveling through Mangrove islands in kayaks, I had to do a whole lot of babysitting. 

But after a week of telling little Kyle to not ride the small Key Deer, and warning Pyro Kevin to not burn the poisonous leaves and kill us all, the kids all learned that not everything has to be structured. You can have pancakes at 2 o'clock in the morning. You don't have to eat until you feel hungry. It's OK to dress up in war paint, make a spear and go hunting for iguanas.

But with every group of smart-mouthed New Jersey kids and Ohio Skyline Chili lovers (Skyline Chili is an overrated restaurant chain in Ohio), came two adult leaders who had a far more difficult time grasping the concept of "island time." 

This wasn't their fault. With every year, our lives become more structured. Our minds are molded by Western education and thinking. We never question why two plus two equals four. We just memorize it. Kids grow accustomed to eating dinner when they always eat dinner, usually based on the time on their cell phones. Those kids grow into college students, whose classes are oriented by schedules and the exact amount of time it takes to cook a bowl of ramen noodles. 

I'm not saying schedules are bad. If they didn't exist, we wouldn't be able to organize all of our tasks into one day. 

What I am asking is for every straight-A, driven student at DePauw to take a break from studying to smell the roses. Walk in the Nature Park for a while.  Physically smell roses. 

Even watch prospective students walk around campus like lost sheep. Those yellow folders will forever identify them as "prospies," and they have no idea. I like to sort them into Hogwarts houses as they walk by. But as funny as it may be, don't yell "Baa ram you."

One of my adult leaders from Ohio this summer spent several nights looking up at the sky, watching shooting stars fly by every 10 minutes. At the end of the week, after much reflection, he announced that he was going to quit his job that he hated and find a new one. 

If I learned anything this summer, it was that you don't know how you truly feel about something until you take a break from it. Also, I learned not to allow kids to have hermit crab fight clubs. It never ends well.

Jorgenson is a junior from Shawnee, Kansas, majoring in English writing and film studies.