The Alice Cooper song, School’s Out for Summer, accurately depicts the joy that students feel as they finish up a school year. It’s a cacophony of excitement as you finish your work and head off to what you know will be a summer filled with relaxing, beaches, good books, friends, (that summer job, of course), and no homework. That time of year has once again arrived. The year is drawing to a close: finals are done, the contents of your dorm room are packed into the back of your parents’ car, and you’re ready to head home to relax and enjoy the summer… or are you?
For some of you, this summer means another three months in Blacksburg. Some people love Blacksburg in the summer, but others are hesitant and find themselves thinking “but there isn’t much to do in Blacksburg during the year, what am I supposed to do over the summer?”
I was one of those people last year. But have no fear, there’s plenty to do in Blacksburg over the summer to keep you entertained and I have compiled a list of “a few of my favorite things.” (Sound of Music reference, anyone?)
1. On the topic of movies… have a movie party!
The summer is generally more relaxed than the regular school year, giving you more free time. Use this opportunity to make friends with your new roommate, suitemates, hall mates, classmates… whomever! Get a group together and prepare a string of movies to watch: host a Harry Potter Marathon, Lord of the Rings Marathon, Disney movie marathon, scary movie marathon…whatever you want! And don’t forget the popcorn and candy!
2. Throwback to board games
Remember how playing board games with your friends and/or parents was the best thing to do growing up? Well, it’s time to break out Scrabble, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Sorry, Life, Twister, and whatever else you have saved from your childhood. Throw in a few new games such as The Game of Things, Quelf, and Catchphrase and you have a fun-filled night ahead of you. Games allow for conversation between the people you are with, which is something that movie marathons don’t allow for so if you’re looking to get to know your new group of friends, break out those board games!
Side Note: If you’re over 21, it adds a twist to Twister if you play after a few cocktails. See who the most balanced is!
3. Visit the New River
A group of my friends and I visited the New River every weekend and it was probably the highlight of my summer. Plus, it’s a cheap way to beat the summer heat. You can rent tubes from the New River Junction and spend the day floating down the river for $9 (http://www.newriverjunction.com/). Or if tubing isn’t your style, there are spots where you can set up a few towels next to the river and spend the day laying out on the river bank with some friends. The best part of this is that you can take dips in the river when it gets too hot out, and you don’t have to pay.
4. Hike the Cascades
Spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon hiking the Cascades and enjoy the beautiful scenery while getting some exercise in. If you find yourself heating up during your four mile hike, you can always cool down in the Falls. For a very affordable $3 per vehicle charge, the Cascades are a must-do this summer. Make sure to bring your camera along, as well, because the views are breath-taking! (http://gilescounty.org/cascades.html)
5. Start a new “healthy living” plan
I know that I found the summer to be a lot less stressful than the school year, and used this to my advantage and decided to get myself hooked on some healthy habits. My suitemate and I started a triathlon training program together. Since she ran in high school and I swam in high school, we were able to motivate each other through the days that we didn’t really feel like working out. I definitely recommend working out with a friend; it gives you the extra motivation you need to get going and it also makes the workout a little more fun. We used this triathlon training program (http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/Programs/16wksprintRun.htm), but made modifications based on how much we knew our bodies could handle, and took into consideration the shape we were in before starting. Be careful when creating an exercise program, as you don’t want to injure yourself, and make sure to drink lots of water (especially if you’re working out outside)!
6. Visit the Farmer’s Market
One of the downsides about living on campus over the summer is the fact that D2 is the only dining hall open, and it’s open for limited hours for each meal (unless you manage to catch ABP during the few hours it’s open, which I could never seem to manage to do). I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t able to handle an entire summer of only D2, even after getting creative and making up my own meals there (get a chicken patty from the burger/fries place and dunk it in marinara sauce from the pizza/pasta place to make your own chicken parmesan), so I started making some meals on my own.
Pick up some fresh fruit at the Farmer’s Market, along with homemade jam, bread, flour, and other locally gown/produced foods (http://www.blacksburgfarmersmarket.com/)! A few examples of what you can make are: apples with peanut butter, blueberries in pancakes, apple muffins, your own bread, fruit salad, etc. These things are simple enough to make right in your dorm kitchen and don’t require a lot of effort.
*Eating healthy foods will also go hand in hand with your new exercise program, making you a happier, healthier you.
7. Have a barbeque!
Nothing says summer like barbequing, right? So pick up some burgers and hot dogs at Kroger or Wal-Mart and start up the grill! Invite people from your dorm and/or classes to celebrate the Fourth of July, the end of Summer Session I or II, a birthday, or just for fun. Have everyone bring something to share: juice, soda, plates, napkins, cheese for burgers, chips, fruit, etc! This is a nice change from D2 food and is a great way to get to know people better.
8. Take advantage of the special events that the summer has to offer
Each summer offers a new slew of fun things to attend, such as plays and festivals downtown. This past summer, my friends and I saw “The Complete Works of Shakespeare: Abridged Edition” and it was hilariously wonderful. We also attended the Steppin’ Out festival downtown and checked out all of the products made bysmall businesses in the area (http://www.downtownblacksburg.com/steppin_out.aspx).
9. Visit Floyd, VA
Even though it’s roughly a half hour drive away from campus, I’d definitely recommend a trip to Floyd,VA,especially if you can arrange to be there during Floyd Fest (http://www.floydfest.com/). There’s great music and some awesome small shops to look around. Make sure to try the fudge at Nancy’s Candy Co. on East Main Street and grab some lunch at the Country Store (http://www.nancyshomemadefudge.com/virginiachocolatecandy.aspx).
10. Take a trip to Smith Mountain Lake
Also a bit of a drive from campus, Smith Mountain Lake is also a must-visit if you have the transportation and time to spare. A wonderful day trip, Smith Mountain Lake features swimming, a slide in the middle of the lake, a small beach to lie out on, and an ice cream boat. The ice cream boat was by far my favorite part, but the whole day was very enjoyable and provided a refreshing break from the summer heat. It’s also really affordable at $3 for parking per car and $3 for an all-day pass to the lake (http://www.visitsmithmountainlake.com/).
* Images courtesy of Google Images.