High Points: Freshman Envy | AspenTimes.com

High Points: Freshman Envy

Paul E. Anna

Tom the Dancing Bug 1209 the R word

When I come back in my next life, I want to be an Aspen High School student. Not only are they the coolest kids on the planet (and oh, how they know it), they also get to take the coolest trips to the planet's coolest places.

Jeanne McGovern's cover story in the Aspen Times Weekly — uh-hem, the award-winning Aspen Times Weekly — is a compilation of "postcards" outlining the various trips that the students can take in their ExEd, or "experiential education," programs. Designed to get the kids out of the box, the 36 options range from a tech-free exploration of the local mountains to a week in the Bronx exploring the volunteering and service opportunities in neighborhoods that are quite a bit different from those found throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

When I went to high school, readin', 'righten and 'rythmatic were on the daily docket. If you wanted to travel, you put out a thumb and left a note at home. But kids today…

In all seriousness, these adventures allow the students to explore and experience other worlds and other cultures. They can go sailing in Santa Barbara, learn to dance with the actors from Broadway plays, or explore American history by taking a tour through the key cities where the Civil Rights Movement had its origins.

It may seem that a spelunking expedition or a kayaking trip is frivolous, but for 15-, 16- and 17-year-old young adults, it may well be their first sojourns on their own. The chance to get on a plane, go someplace far away and rely, at least a bit, on yourself is part of the maturation process. It is great that the kids of Aspen can have those unique opportunities.

But my envy for them comes from the fact that they are seeing these things and places through young eyes. I would give anything to experience the anticipation, and even the nervousness of embarking on a journey into the unknown, with the innocence of youth. It's not just about being young, it's about everything being new and exciting and unknown. Travel is great, but it's even better before you get jaded.

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Of course all of this costs money and Jeanne's story outlines how tomorrow's Aspen Ski Swap helps to raise funds for the ExEd activities. Once again, only in Aspen can you take an epic Saturday morning, go to a ski swap where you will see all of your friends, save some cash on ski socks or long johns, get a new pair of killer skis and contribute to a great cause. Since 1954, that's 60 years ago folks, the Aspen Ski Swap has been one of this community's best activities.

See you there.

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