Seniors forgo typical beach week, travel with friends


Three seniors forgo the conventional beach week at Dewey Beach in Deleware and enjoy time together in Portugal. Beach week, which falls between the end of seniors' classes and graduation, is often criticized for some alcohol and drug use at Dewey. Photo courtesy Zoe Taswell.

By Jack Gonzalez

The sun beats down on senior Mary Kate Skilling as she lies next to the ocean. Thinking of her peers at Dewey Beach in Delaware, Skilling is glad she made the decision to go to the Dominican Republic.

After getting out of school May 24, many seniors took part in their unofficial summer opening celebration: beach week. While most headed to Dewey, others decided to travel out of the country to father, more exotic beaches—or to skip the beach altogether.

Skilling spent her beach week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with her family—including her twin sister, Jamie—and another senior friend. This trip was the first time Skilling had traveled outside of the country.

“The trip was amazing. It was 85 and 70 degrees the whole entire time; it was pretty much just sun and the beach,” Skilling said. “It was very different to a normal beach week. It was definitely a lot more relaxed, a lot more laid back and we got to do cooler activities.”

This year isn’t the first students are opting out of the traditional Dewey trip. Some students choose to go to a different destination themselves, while others’ parents don’t allow them to attend conventional beach week, senior Zoe Taswell said.

Taswell spent her beach week with two friends in Portugal, where she explored the country and culture. She toured Lisbon and Algarve, took a food tour and enjoyed the nightlife, she said.

For beach week, one group of seniors chose to spend their week by the beach in Portugal, rather than in Dewey, Deleware. Photo courtesy Zoe Taswell.

“My parents preferred for me to go on a different trip just because of the party culture that happens at beach week.” senior Zoe Taswell said. “I love traveling [and] I thought it was a good opportunity to travel and have a cool summer trip.”

Taswell says she had fun in Portugal with her friends without partying all day and potentially engaging in risky behavior. It was relaxing not to have to worry about getting in trouble, she said.

“I don’t know if it was better or worse, like I definitely would have had fun at beach week the traditional way, it’s just we never got tired of Portugal,” Taswell said. “It was sad to come home, and I wouldn’t have done it a different way.”

Senior Olivia Matthews also went to Europe: she spent a week in Copenhagen with seven of her friends. Matthews and several other members of her group had never been to Europe, so the trip was a perfect opportunity to see a different part of the world, she said.

“We didn’t want to go to ‘beach week’ beach week, and a lot of our parents said they would contribute if we found a cool cultural experience,” Matthews said. “Copenhagen is a relatively easy place to go in terms of a language barrier since a lot of people speak English there, and it’s not crazy expensive.”

Parents often encourage their children to go to alternative locations for beach week because of a reputation of misconduct at Dewey. There have been multiple cases of students being cited by police due to drinking and drugs in past years.

Cristina Hilsenrath, mother of senior Hope Hilsenrath, let her child go to Dewey for beach week, but understands why other parents would not. The parents of the Hope’s group met beforehand and agreed on measures for their kids to stay safe but still have fun. Many groups—including hers—also had a parent staying nearby to ensure the students’ safety and health, Cristina Hilsenrath said.

“It’s definitely a personal decision by a parent and their child whether they do go to beach week,” Hilsenrath said. “Kids don’t always follow the rules. I can’t say that I support going, I tolerate it.”

Matthews says she values getting a different experience from her peers, and she felt she got more out of traveling to Copenhagen than she would have from spending the time at Dewey, she said.

“It’s just to experience a culture, and visit a cool place that we haven’t seen before, and just have a really awesome last experience with our friends instead of just staying at a beach for a week,” Matthews said.