When I was a senior in High School, the Jump! program for incoming UMass undergraduates didn't exist, so I had to wait until after my Freshman year to experience my first summer in The Valley. Now that the Jump! program is established and growing, there's a chance for UMass students to spend a summer in the area before even starting their freshman year. I have to say, I definitely didn't feel completely comfortable and at home here until I spent the summer. There’s something about being in The Valley when you don’t have classes that really makes you realize: this is my home, this is where I live. I’m so excited for the incoming class of 2020 to be able to feel at home by the time they begin their freshman year! If you’re thinking of spending your summer with us in the Jump! program, here is a list of things you absolutely have to do this summer!
1. Swimming at Puffer's Pond
Puffer’s is a sweet little pond behind campus. It’s about a 15-20 minute bike ride or a 5 minute car ride, or you can take the bus there! It’s right by a lovely breakfast spot called Cushman’s Market and Cafe. Last summer on Sundays I loved to get a late breakfast at Cushman’s (they have delicious Challah French Toast) and then spend all day at the pond. It’s a relaxing, woodland spot with lots of trails around it and a little beach area where there are always children and pups splashing in the water.
2. Taste of Amherst
Taste of Amherst is an annual food festival that takes place in the center of Amherst town. This year, it will be June 16th-19th. During those days, the center of town wil be full of local restauraunts offering free and cheap tastes of their food. It's a great way to get to know the restaraunts in town and find your favorite! Plus, there's always live entertainment, games, and usually some farm animals. Last year I met a sloth there!
3. Take advantage of the nearly empty Recreation Center
UMass Amherst has a huge, new, and exciting Rec Center. There's basketball courts, an indoor track, excercise machines for cardio and strength training, and classrooms dowstairs where you can take classes in everything from Yoga to Kickboxing. During the school year, the gym is crowded with students. A lot of people like to work out in a social environment, but if you're like me, that can be really scary! Personally, I'm always nervous about starting a new exercise routine or trying a new machine when there's a lot of people around, because I don't want to embarass myself. But over the summer, the gym is almost completely empty. You could try out every single machine if you want and see what you like best. You can spend as much time as you want and try out new things without being embarassed. Then, when you start the school year, you'll be able to continue your workout like a gym pro!
4. Pick Fruit at Apex Orchards (or any other local orchards!)
The Pioneer Valley is full of farms and orchards, and that makes the summer as sweet and juicy as you can possiby imagine! If you love fruit like me, you simply have to spend a day walking among the trees and plucking ripe fruit to eat. At Apex Orchards, you can pick peaches, plums, and tons of other delicious fruits. It's just about the sweetest day ever.
5. Red Fire Farm Strawberry Soiree
While we're on the topic of fruit, let's talk about my absolute favorite event of the year, the Strawberry Soiree at Red Fire Farm. You can pick berries and buy fruits and veggies at the farm any day, but the soiree is realy special. They have live folk music, tasting of TONS of different kinds of strawberries (so you can figure out exactly which ones you want to buy), and yummy treats like strawberry shortcake and strawberry lemonade. I met the sweetest baby while I was there last year and she asked my to dance (a.k.a. hold hands and spin in circles).
6. Bridge of Flowers
The Bridge of Flowers in Shelbourne Falls is just about the best thing ever. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a bridge covered in flowers. But ok, they're the most beautiful and varied flowers ever! When I went last summer I spent a good hour walking up and down the short bridge, noticing new and beautiful flowers every time! It was a total dream. There's different flowers blooming during different parts of the summer, so you may even want to stop by a couple times!
7. Go Exploring With Friends
Some of my best summer memories are from days that weren't planned. If you're brave enough to journey down paths you've never tried before, The Valley will almost always reward you. There are so many beautiful hidden spots here it's pretty easy to stumble upon a swimmig hole, waterfall, or beautiful field of flowers. One of my favorite memories from last summer was finding a huge, expansive field of yellow flowers behind a swimming spot on Stanley Street. Now, that's just another lovely spot I know!
The summer is yours. Exploration, creativity, growth, and a place you can call home. Come bloom with us!
If you are planning on attending UMass in the fall, check out the Jump! program for incoming undergraduates:
If you are a high school student looking for something to do this summer, check out our wide variety of pre-college summer programs for high school students: