Submerging in the Atlantic seemed intimidating to Eleanor Brock. She said she never liked being underwater. She took the plunge, however, diving into a summer of new experiences.
Within the first few days of a sailing program in the British Virgin Islands, Eleanor, a Girls Preparatory School freshman, realized what she'd been missing.
"I actually didn't really want to go when I first heard of the program because I wasn't that big a fan of being underwater," she said. "Then I got there and I was just like, 'I actually do like this.' "
This summer, Eleanor will return to the British Virgin Islands for a sailing, scuba diving and marine biology intensive course. Her three-week adventure will further her certifications in open-water scuba diving and night diving. She will also be learning how to be an underwater naturalist, researching and photographing. Eleanor has also learned practical skills on her trip that she will use again this summer.
"When we're on the boat, there are certain jobs for each person, and they rotate each day," she said. "One day a person is the skipper who is in charge of the boat. The second day is engineer. There are cooks, 'deckies' who clean the top of the boat and maids who clean the inside of the boat."
While Eleanor will see an abundance of marine life, her fellow GPS student, junior Parker Mallchok, 17, will encounter the sharks of Washington, D.C., working as a page for Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee.
"It's being a lady-in-waiting of sorts for our government and doing whatever needs to get done," she said of the job, which includes running notes back and forth among senators.
This will be Parker's first experience in the working world. She said she looks forward to acclimating to the culture of a different city.
"I'm really excited to be on my own," she said. "I hope to gain a better worldview, just getting out of Tennessee and meeting new people."
While Eleanor and Parker will cross many miles this summer, Grace Kling, 18, a senior at Dalton High School, will stay closer to home, working with United Way, as she has done throughout high school. She contributes to community projects through yard work, painting porches and, her favorite, playing with the children at the Boys and Girls Club.
"The community is always looking for assistance," said Grace, "and sometimes entertainment can improve the community as well."
Active in theater, Grace has used her talents to conduct a puppetry camp and even improv-comedy classes at the Boys and Girls Club.
"There are always new and fun ways to volunteer," said Grace.
Summer activities are more than just fun; they expose students to experiences outside the classroom, said Margaret Smith, college and career adviser at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.
"It gives them a new dimension, a new layer to whatever it is they get involved with," said Smith. "Einstein said, 'A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.' Jobs, travel, missions [and] internships give students the opportunity to live outside themselves."
Caroline Hetzel is a student at Girls Preparatory School.