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7 Ways to End the Summer Well

It takes about a week-and-a-half to climb Mt. Everest and then get back to civilization.  Obviously, this doesn’t include the weeks, or months even, of acclimatization before the big push.  But in anywhere from ten to, say, fourteen days, a well-trained, properly acclimatized mountaineer, with a friendly nod from the mountain and its weather, can get from Base Camp, to the summit, and back down again to Kathmandu.

You can get a lot done in twelve days, which reminds me of the fact that we have about twelve days left in our summer.  Pick your analogy:  Everest, maybe two-thirds of a Tour de France, the final two weeks of practice before the Super Bowl.  It’s a ​lot​ of time!

I think it’s a mistake to say, “summer is almost over” (even if it feels or is true).  Put yourself in your own shoes on the last day of school before Christmas Break.  Can you feel it?  The excitement?  Two whole weeks off!  Why is this any different?  Nearly two weeks off!

The next twelve days present an incredible opportunity to prepare well for the 2015-16 academic year: your ​only​ 2015-16 academic year.  Ever.

Read.  Study.  Sleep.  Spend ​quality​ leisure time with your family.

When our students are second semester seniors, we tell them that the way they perform during the final weeks of their senior year is the way they will begin their freshman year of college.  The same holds true here.  The way you end your summer will, in large part, determine the quality of your first weeks of school.  And even a well spent, diligent summer ended with two weeks of poor habits, can set you back big-time when class begins on September 9.  This is the time for focused preparation for the task at hand; the opportunity to put yourself in a position to give another year of school your best shot.

Actually, it’s error to speak of this as an opportunity.  It’s not.  It’s an obligation.  Take a second to consider the plight of Christians in the Middle East.  First world problems.  We ​get​ to go to school–safely–and we ​must give it our best.

Seven suggestions for the 288 hours between now and D-day:

1) Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night.  It’s science!  You’ll be smarter, faster, stronger, and even college football coaches are going to extreme measures to make their players sleep.

2) Make your bed when your alarm clock goes off the first time.  A SEAL Admiral thought this was important enough to share with UT’s graduating seniors.  I’d listen to the man.

3) Pray for 5 minutes before breakfast.  Perhaps you read the Bible; if you’re on vacation look at something beautiful and think about Who made it.  However you grow closer to the Lord, grow closer to the Lord.

4) Enjoy quality time with your family:  take your mom to coffee; ask your dad what he’s working on; go for a run with a sibling.

5) Speaking of running, run–or do something physically demanding that exercises the body.  Exercise leads to better sleep and more productive work.

6) Exercise your brain, principally through reading (hopefully you’ve finished required reading; if not–good time to start) and ‘rithmatic (Kahn Academy is an incredible program that many Heights boys use to supplement classroom instruction).

7) And repeat.  The NFL Combine’s Bench Press is not about a max one-rep effort.  It’s about consistency and power across the long haul.  Sure, you might be able to bench 400 lbs. once, but what the coaches what to know is how many reps you can bang out at 225, because that ​is a more accurate indicator of how you’ll do on the gridiron, play after play, snap after snap.  The same holds true here.  Don’t put in a one-rep-max effort the day or two before school.  Let’s go with consistency at 225 for the next twelve days.

And parents, a little heavy handedness here is entirely appropriate.  Maybe a self-serving comment, but it really makes our job easier (and our efforts more effective) in a couple of weeks.  Again, College Football Coaches are cracking down on sleep and screen-time (inextricably related), and these coaches are just looking for physical performance; we have our eyes on a higher prize.

Somewhat relatedly, if you’d like a good read for yourselves on healthy leisure–hopefully a major goal of the next few days–try Joseph Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture​: an outstanding book.

Best wishes for a good and productive last 12 days of summer.  To the summit!

About the Author

Rich Moss


Rich is the Director of The Heights Forum and the Director of Admissions at The Heights School.

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