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Spring break, then and now

March 1, 2011

By Ali Neese, Staff Writer

Across the Young Harris College campus, new life is beginning to stir. The sun is shining and students are beginning to shed their winter layers and head outdoors. The new warmth in the air is hinting at the end of cold temperatures and everyone is looking forward to the summer months to come. Before we can skip to summer, however, there is one much-anticipated activity that must take place: spring break 2011.

When most people think of spring break, they think of the beach, parties and hanging out with friends. It is a week-long celebration that allows students a chance to unwind in the middle of a stressful semester. What many do not know, however, is that the history of spring break can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. According to CoolestSpringBreak.com, “The young men and women of these cultures welcomed the return of spring.”

The website also reveals that these ancient people enjoyed a good party, too, saying that they celebrated with days of drinking and dancing, probably not unlike today’s spring break parties.

Our modern-day idea of Spring Break, however, began in 1936 when the swim coach at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York brought his swim team to Fort Lauderdale to practice. The trip was successful and became a tradition for the school and for college swimmers in general. Gradually the popularity of travelling to Fort Lauderdale in late winter grew among college students with approximately 20,000 visiting in 1954.

For years Fort Lauderdale was the “official” spring break headquarters, but in the 1980s it lost its title to Daytona Beach. Daytona was the main Spring Break destination in the early 1990s, but students were also beginning to explore others areas as their spring getaway, such as Panama City, which hosted over a half-million spring breakers in 1997 alone.

Along with different Florida cities gaining popularity for this mid-semester vacation, many people began traveling abroad, exploring areas such as Cancun, Mexico, the Bahamas and Jamaica. In more recent years, ski trips and mission trips have also become popular things to do on break.

Just like today, YHC students from years past felt the stress of school and looked forward to this much needed break as well. The assistant editor of the Enotah Echoes in 1984 wrote about the necessity of spring break in her column. She says that her fellow students were feeling run down, emotions were high and everyone was in need of a break from academic life—something that today’s YHC students can definitely relate to.

She continued by saying that many students would spend their break at the beach with friends, while others would go home to hang out with their family members.

A similar article written in April of 1992 tells what that year’s YHC students did for their spring break. As can be expected, several mentioned the beach and quality time with family, while others say that they worked. One student even travelled to Norway over her spring break.

Clint Hobbs, vice president for Enrollment Management and YHC class of ‘88, says that spring break was a blast when he was a student. It took place in April instead of March and oftentimes fraternities and sororities coordinated their trips so that they went to the same location. Just like today, popular places for students were Panama City and Myrtle Beach.

Whether you decide to head to the beach, go on a mission trip, or just relax at home, it is safe to say that everyone at YHC is ready for this much-needed break.

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