Originally Published in the February 2014 Issue 4 of "The Mainsheet"
You’re done with finals. You get in the car and finally what feels like the weight of the world is off your shoulders. You blast some “Timber,” maybe the throwback classic “Mrs. Officer,” and you can finally relax. While some people head home for some much needed sleep, Netflix, and chocolate, many Chadwick students make the trek up to Mammoth Mountain for a weekend of fun and no regrets (my count for the amount of times I heard “Mammy No Regretz” was 49 times--I kid you not). So what’s the big deal?
Mammoth provides an opportunity for kids to have some outdoor fun: skiing and snowboarding. For those who don’t like the outdoor fun, there’s lots of hanging out with friends at Starbucks, Pita Pit, or cuddling up watching movies inside. But sometimes we forget that this particular opportunity is not available to everyone who goes to Chadwick.
Skiing and snowboarding are really expensive sports. Renting equipment can cost upwards of $250 for a 3 day weekend. Additionally, ski passes are over $100 per day. You’ve already blown through a cool $550 not including room and board. Then you need to stay in Village because that’s where everyone stays. Rooms there cost around $275 a night. Multiply that times three and you are already at $1375. And add in food and gas (or airfare), the cost of the weekend is easily over $1500.
Yes, there are ways to minimize the cost. You can pile 10 people in a room, not eat, or not ski, but any way you look at it, Mammoth costs a lot of money. We often don’t acknowledge the fact that there is a big divide at Chadwick. It’s not the divide you’re thinking of. It’s a socioeconomic divide.
Not everyone can afford to go to Mammoth just like not everybody can afford tutoring, special summer programs, and vacations to Europe and other far away places. Sometimes people may take for granted the fact that growing up in a family where money is not a problem gives them a lot of advantages. We like to think that we all have the same opportunities, but this is simply not
You can look around Chadwick and see from the cars the students drive that there are a lot of people that don’t have to worry about money. There are kids at Chadwick who drive cars that are far more expensive than those owned by many of the adults who send their children to Chadwick. Kids are
lucky to be able to drive such nice cars at such a young age. The same is true of the clothes and accessories that some people wear.
In fact, recently I was sitting with a group of people and someone made a comment about a store (side note: that I happen to shop at) and how gross it was. While this store may not be super “quiche” in the eyes of many Chadwick students, I was really upset the entire rest of the day that someone would say something like, “Why would anyone shop at (said store)?”
Upon further reflection, I could care less what people think about this store, but what really bothered me was the assumption that everyone must think the same way or shop at the same stores. There was a total lack of appreciation for the fact that maybe people can’t afford fancy clothing stores or that their values are different, and they don’t choose to spend their money that way.
As long as I am on this rant, I might as well bring up an expensive Chadwick tradition: formal and major school dances. For girls, by the time you get your dress and shoes, you could have spent anywhere from $50 to $400 (or more I suppose). Then, many girls want to get their nails ($50), hair ($65 or more), and makeup ($70) done.
For guys, I have heard that a “good suit” costs anywhere from $100 to $600, and then boys need shoes ($100 or more) and a haircut ($50) to top off their look. And this doesn’t even include a formal ticket, which this year was over $50, and the cost of riding in a limo, which is usually around $45 or $50! If you are a boy and you ask someone to formal (don’t get me started on gender norms), you are often expected to pay for your date's ticket too, so that’s another $50 added to your dance bill.
Often, when you participate in a sport or activity, you are often expected, if not required, to purchase a team shirt or jacket. While $20 or $25 may not seem like much, over time, with the number of activities that Chadwick students participate in, purchasing these pieces items each year can really add up. After I recently cleaned out my closet, I counted over 10 Chadwick related jackets, and 12 Chadwick t-shirts. This is a little bit ridiculous. It’s not only a waste of precious resources, but I think we have enough stuff.
Again, we often don’t think of the economic burden participating in different activities puts on students and families. I am not saying that we shouldn’t go to formal, prom, or Mammoth, but I think we need to be more sensitive to the cost and the fact that not everyone can afford to do all of these activities.
My point is don’t assume, and try to be more sensitive to the fact that not everyone has the same advantages and opportunities that you may have. My intention is not to make anyone feel guilty. My purpose is to urge more sensitivity about an issue that we often don’t readily acknowledge.
Photo Courtesy of Kate McEvilly January 2014