After the stress of exams, seniors eagerly venture to Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach in a phenomenon known as "Beach Week."
But, it is known as much more than a simple, stress-free week of sun-soaked relaxation. The disturbing number of beach week horror stories has escalated it to an event of almost mythical proportions. Many parents see it purely as a week of intense partying, arrests and destruction.
Generally, many seniors head to Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach or Ocean City during the week preceding graduation. Groups of friends stay together either in family homes or rented houses as they enjoy a week free of parental supervision. This freedom, however, often carries heavy consequences.
It is still an exaggeration to affirm that all who attend beach week end up in some sort of trouble. In fact, most leave relatively unscathed. But each year, something inevitably happens. Evictions, party busts and arrests are not uncommon but expected.
Police are particularly attuned to the happenings of beach week. During a PTA-sponsored meeting, a Delaware police officer reported that their budget counts on the revenues collected from beach week activities. In other words, the police are looking for underage drinking.
The police again raised the stakes of attending beach week when we were informed, at an April 12 senior meeting, that students can be charged with alcohol possession by simply attending an underage drinking party.
And if a minor-age student is cited or arrested at beach week, the police promptly call the offender’s parents, who then must drive to Delaware to pick up their very unfortunate child.
Still, many parents trust their children enough to permit them to go. After a month of highly stressful AP and IB exams, most seniors are desperate to escape from the area and exercise their newfound freedom. It is a rite of passage, a long-awaited tradition many do not want to sacrifice because of the unwise decisions of past seniors.
It’s simply a week “to spend time having fun with friends right after we graduate high school” senior Ava Farrell said.
Others require a compromise. Parents hesitant with the idea of beach week often go to the same beach as their child but stay elsewhere. This balance of supervision and freedom is surprisingly popular with students, especially since most rental houses require an adult’s signature on the lease.
And then there are parents who completely reject beach week.
“My parents weren’t thrilled with the idea that our entire senior class would be down at the beach together without supervision” one senior said.
There are still many alternatives for students forbidden from the Delaware shore. Many people are making the pilgrimage to Bonnaroo, a four-day music and art festival in Tennessee. Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are headlining this year’s event of 150 performances and countless other awesome activities.
Others enjoy their week at less populated beaches or exciting yet not so drunken places such as New York City.
How do you feel about beach week?