Op/Ed: Challenge Yourself This Summer

By Cynthia Dagenais

Wake up! Its 8:00 a.m. and I just accomplished wakeboarding for the first time before most people wake up in the summer.

"Wake up!" It's 8:00 a.m. and I just accomplished wakeboarding for the first time before most people wake up in the summer.

It’s the end of the spring semester and summer is just around the corner. When I ask classmates and peers what they have planned for the summer, they tell me that they do “the usual,” which made me wonder what exactly “the usual” is when it comes to summer plans.

The majority of Marist students come from the east coast states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Because of the geographical location of these states, access to a beach or lake can be reached by an hour-long car drive.  As soon as they get out of their car, they plop down on the sand and take a nap or try to obtain the perfect tan.

As relaxing as that sounds, going to the beach every weekend just to lay down for a few hours and then drive home can become boring and quite redundant very quickly.  While on your day trip, why not try something new?  It’s hot outside so why not cool down in the water and have some fun?

Some of the coolest summer activities are growing in popularity, and being a “beach bum” is no longer as appealing as it once appeared.  The summer season has so many options to offer the bored and lazy, and they just have to know where to look for something to do.  Get out of the air conditioning, get outside, and get wet!  This time of year is ideal to try a new sport and cool down at the same time!

Water sports are a popular way to have fun, cool down and even work out.  Some of the most popular ones to try are water skiing, wake boarding, and  slalom skiing.

Catch some waves instead of some rays this summer with water sports.  Instead of being a beach bum and taking a day-long siesta, get up and enjoy the day!  There are no excuses for being “bored” unless you have tried every activity there is to do on this fine planet we call Earth.  There are many things to try, and the possibilities are endless.

One sport that has been increasing in popularity since it had been invented in 1922 is water skiing.  A man from Minnesota named Ralph Samuelson built the first pair of water skis and was towed by a boat with an outboard motor.  Water skiing started as an exhibition sport in the 1920s and 1930s.  It became an official competitive sport when the American Water Ski Association was formed and hosted the first annual National Water Ski Championships at Jones Beach (Long Island, N.Y.).

Today there are roughly around 11 million recreational water skiers in the United States, according to USA Water Ski.  I am proud to be one of the many recreational skiers making wake in the fresh water of Lake Hopatcong, N.J.

I used to be a beach bum in the summer, but as much as I love reading and relaxing in the sun, I felt like trying something new while I had so much extra spare time on my hands.  I always acted as a spotter for my older brothers when they skied, so I wanted to try it out myself.  I fell in love with water skiing the first time I put on the skis and face-planted into a wave.

Trying something new in the summer is a great way to grow and challenge yourself when you aren’t challenging yourself with classwork during the school year.  If you have a boat, buy a tow rope with a handle intended for skiing and a set of skis at a specialty shop.  If you have never skied before, either find a friend to teach you or your best bet is to sign up for an introductory lesson.  Look online for an instructor located near you.  Or, if you want to completely immerse yourself into the sport, you can attend a camp specifically for waterskiing, such as Coble Waterski and Wakeboard Camp in Lillington, N.C.  The instructors of the lessons or camps can teach you how to position your body in the water and give you tips on how to get up.  Luckily I had my father explain the process so I didn’t need to pay for lessons.

The sport is pretty simple once you are able to stand up.  The hardest part of water skiing is planing off.  Sometimes your skis cross each other, or you fall backwards the first few times, but I accomplished skiing without lessons through my own trial-and-error. Once you get up, the challenge and the thrill of the sport is balancing on a surface that is as slippery as ice.  If you master two skis, you can try to do some stunts or challenge yourself by trying a different type of board, such as wake boarding or slalom skiing.

In slalom skiing, the skier uses one ski and stands straight forward with one foot in front of the other.  Wakeboarding involves riding the wide wakeboard sideways similar to a snowboard, but on water that is not frozen.  Last summer I learned how to wakeboard and found it much easier to plane off because I learned on skis.  Regular skis can cause your legs to go in different directions, but a wakeboard keeps your legs straight.

This slalom skier is maneuvering an obstacle course.

This slalom skier is maneuvering an obstacle course.

I plan on trying my hands at slalom skiing this summer.  It is my challenge that I have placed before me to get active and to attain a goal before I return back to school in the fall.  What will you accomplish this summer?

Challenge yourself in some way this summer, whether it is through water sports or another similar activity.  You will make new memories, pick up a new hobby, and you won’t be bored.  Besides, when your friends ask you what you did for the summer, you can say that you picked up a new talent instead of saying that you spent the entire time sleeping.  Who wants to hear how bored you are in the summer anyway? How boring.

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