Here’s our guide to surviving Senior Week:
1. Be smart when you’re packing – especially your food and drinks.
Be sure to pack plenty of nutritious snacks, meals and beverages in addition to your celebratory drinks and cheap breakfast pastries. Pauline Wallin, a licensed psychologist in Camp Hill, said grads should aim to eat at least one balanced meal a day.
An easy way to do this is to make your meals beforehand and freeze them when you get to the beach. Love your mom’s veggie lasagna? Ask her to donate a pan to the cause. Then all you have to do while you’re vacationing is heat it up.
If everyone brings a covered dish, then you don’t have to go out to eat so much, and you’ll save a lot of money, said Hilary Radic, 21, of Swatara Township.
And a note on nutrition: You’re inevitably going to get the late-night munchies and sprint to the nearest pizza joint. That’s OK, sometimes. But pack these healthy snacks, too, to satisfy those cravings, according to fitday.com:
2. Call your parents before they call you.
Then they’ll leave you alone.
“Parents nag because they worry, but if you keep them informed of where you are, when you get back, your parents won’t worry as much, and they’ll ask fewer questions,” Wallin said.
Listen up. Your parents are going to call you. It’s just going to happen. Set aside a time once a day when you can take a few moments and call them (not text them) to reassure mom and dad that you’re OK. Send them snapshots of you and your friends having fun in a safe way, like when you’re playing mini-golf or building a fort in the sand.
3. If you’re under 21, don’t drink.
Senior Week is a time to celebrate your accomplishments over four years of high school – don’t ruin it by doing something stupid with alcohol.
“If you’re under 21, you’re not legally allowed to drink. At 18, it can go on your record and affect getting a job later,” Wallin said.
4. When you don’t listen to No. 3, just be responsible.
Police in popular beach destinations crack down during Senior Week on underage drinking, according to Chief Keith Banks of the Rehoboth Beach Police Department. Think the cops turn a blind eye to this stuff? Think again.
"We do take it very seriously and because of that, they could lose their driver's license," Banks said. "It's a criminal offense and goes on their record."
If a person is cited for underage drinking, they'll likely have to pay a fine, come back to the area for court, or worse – Banks said many students have had scholarships to college revoked because of one citation during Senior Week.
On a given night, grads can be seen falling on the ground, too intoxicated to stand. They’ll be drunk in public, vomiting on the boardwalk, the list goes on and on. Be careful when you’re drinking and be safe about it. If you’re intoxicated, stay inside. And whatever you do, don’t get behind the wheel.
"We don't want them to get behind the wheel or cause an accident," Banks said, "Or kill someone."
If you're headed to Ocean City, Md., sign up for the Play It Safe program. There's access to free concerts, laser tag and other activities. The best part? You'll get a free wristband which lets you use the bus system for a week, at no charge to you. So park your car and avoid a DUI.
And one last trick of the trade: Disorderly conduct is a real thing that police are searching for. Don't do things like standing on your porch at 3 a.m. and yelling "YOOOO WE IN OCEAN CITY" because officers are patrolling and you'll probably get a disorderly conduct citation. And maybe busted for underage drinking.
5. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a future employer to see on Facebook.
Think you look great in that shot of you owning your arch enemy at beer pong, or maybe that super cute photo of you and your bff winning a case race? Leave it on your iPhone.
“Don’t post pictures or let yourself get tagged in anyone else’s photo of you. Employers are looking at Facebook now,” Wallin said.
She’s not kidding. According to a 2012 study commissioned by CareerBuilder, 37 percent of employers are using Facebook to prescreen job applicants. We’re guessing they won’t love your pong pics.
6. Get enough sleep.
Whether that begins at 10 p.m. or 2 a.m., you know the drill. Shoot for eight hours of sleep a night so you can revitalize your body and recharge for the next day.
“You can’t run on no sleep. At some point, take a nap," Wallin said. "Sleep deprivation can affect your judgment and can make you prone to accidents."
7. Never go off by yourself and have a support system with you.
Christina O’Donnell, 21, of Lower Paxton Township, went to Senior Week after her graduation in 2010 and said one her biggest tips is to always stay with someone you know. Remember the buddy system from elementary school? In a town flooded with thousands of visitors – many of which may be drinking or using drugs – it’s important you have someone to be with.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of physical or sexual assault. Drunken fights are common, and Banks said those who in engage in that type of behavior will be arrested for it.
8. Stay hydrated.
With average temperatures reaching the scorching level in June, dehydration is a force to be reckoned with. Adding alcohol – a diuretic that causes more frequent urination – to the mix can be add to the problem.
Drink plenty of water to stay healthy and happy. Take a break from beer pong and play a round of water pong. Or, have a funnel with you for, er, sand? Clean out the sand (beer) and fill the funnel with water and drink up. See? Rehydration is fun.
9. Be careful with tattoos and piercings.
Just when you start to think it’s a great idea to tat your new girl or guy’s name on your backside, take a step away from the tattoo parlor.
According to WebMD’s skin division, there’s a litter of questions you should ask before you get a tattoo or piercing to be sure the studio you’re going to is clean and safe. Are sterile needles being used? What training does the artist have? What type of sterilization processes are used in the facility? Keep these questions and more in mind before you get that jewel on your bellybutton. Or elsewhere.
10. Have fun, and don’t let your week be ruined by bad decision-making.
Senior Week can be the time of your life if you act responsibly, take care of yourself and look out for your friends. Don’t come home to central Pennsylvania with a citation – or worse.
A version of this was found on Penn Live