The problem: the day-to-day pressure of daily life as a responsible adult
The big idea: Summer camp for college alums
Who didn’t love college? Almost no one, according to the six people I asked. Keg parties, fraternities, eating pizza from under your bed for breakfast, classes maybe four days a week. No one cared that you left your clothes all over the floor and blasted Springsteen at 3 am. Your biggest problem was having to rise by noon on a Thursday so you’d have time to plagiarize your term paper due on Friday evening. No job (work study doesn’t count), unlimited food at the cafeteria, and funnel beer contests every Saturday.
Flash forward 10-20 years and life is about mortgages, your idiot boss, PITA teenaged kids, the leaky roof, and another scintillating dinner with the in-laws. On balance, you’re thinking you should have stayed in school a while longer…and that’s where my idea comes in: summer camp for college alumni.
Think about it. Campuses are virtually empty from mid-May to mid-August every year. These institutions are warehousing valuable assets like dorms, food halls, gyms, and classrooms for 1/3 of each year. If schools promoted weeklong stays to their graduates, complete with frat parties, bbq’s on the quad, and a series of modified “classes” for people to attend during the day, “alum camp” would be huge! The only downside of college (finals and term papers) would be eliminated, and the fun stuff amplified. The schools would make money on their underutilized assets, promote alumni loyalty (and donations), and the oldsters could re-live their glory days in bliss, unencumbered by report cards and student loans. It could also be done as a three to four day adventure, since the old bodies may not be able to stand up to the rigors of a full week of college-level partying. The plan is subject to a few tweaks.
It should be limited to alums out of school for more than 10 years, in order to ensure a proper perspective and appreciation by its participants. I takes the weight of accumulated responsibilities and distance of time to recognize how sweet things were when your biggest problem was whether to venture into the mystery meat in the cafeteria: “beef medley.” Groups of similar years could coordinate their weeks. Stag and mixed weeks could be offered. Offering masters classes during the day provides the veneer of respectability.
And like any epic stag party or memory shattering bender, participants may wake up with a greater appreciation for their “boring” daily existence. Then again, what’s better than a pepperoni slice from under the bed?