Are Summer Vacations Too Short?

Lachelle Yasutake takes the drop as Joe Teipel paddles out at Sandy Beach. Twain Newhart photo

As thousands of island keiki prepare to return to school, some as early as July 30, parents across the state are crying out, “Hallelujah!”

And while one can understand the need for a little peace, quiet and order in homes, it is still very odd to see our beaches starting to empty as July comes to a close.

“You can tell summer is almost over,” says Joey Winters, who bodysurfs at Sandy Beach at least three times a week. “Fewer kids in the water and more parking. In a week this place will be empty and quiet.”

The changes started in 2005, when the Board of Education voted 12-0 to approve a uniform school calendar beginning with the 2006-2007 school year.

The new calendar meant major adjustments for families all across the state. Although the new calendar provided a one-week break in the fall, three weeks off in the winter and two weeks off in the spring, it also meant summer vacation would be trimmed from the traditional 10 weeks to only seven.

“I love it,” laughs Rebecca Bello, a mother of three. “I’m counting the days. I can’t wait for summer to come to an end so I can send them back to school! I’m tired of cleaning up after them. Maybe I’ll actually have time to go to the beach by myself.”

Three weeks may not seem like much to a parent, but when you’re a teenager, and you’re in the midst of making childhood memories with friends, three weeks can feel like three months. And if you’re a surfer, bodyboarder, bodysurfer or any type of wave rider, missing any swell in August can be very painful.

“Guarantee, when we go back to school the big one (south swell) going hit,” says Kolten Miyasato. “It always happens, never fails. Summer is way too short. My dad laughs at me and tells me his summers were way longer than ours. I don’t like it!”

Well, not way longer, but I do recall not returning to school until the first week in September. In fact, I remember surfing during the long Labor Day weekend. Now, in just about every neighborhood, school bulletin boards are welcoming back students, parents, teachers and staff to the new school year.

Instead of sharpening their surfing skills, teens are sharpening their No. 2 pencils in preparation for English class. It just seems very strange.

Still, despite the “short” summer, it’s been a pretty good one as far as south swells go. It hasn’t been an epic summer, but it’s been a solid one. Winters says the surf at Sandy Beach has been “solid” almost every day in June and July, and the winds have “cooperated.”

“There have been no flat days, I think it’s been one of the more consistent summers in years,” adds Blake Madison. “Too bad it’s coming to an end because you know there’s still plenty of juice in the ocean. Look how many storms have already approached Hawaii and it’s only July.”

Yes, it’s only July, but soon we’ll be hearing the jingles and commercial spots for back-to-school shopping, and parents will head to the malls to replace board shorts with khaki shorts. Summer is starting to fade away.

My children agree their summer vacation went by too fast and I feel for them, knowing how special my summer vacations were when I was young. It was a time to make memories with family and friends; memories I still cherish.

I think my wife feels the same way, but my children have their doubts. Especially whenever she belts out an occasional, “Hallelujah! Summer is almost over!”