Ironically, those words were written by the same woman whose best-selling and critically praised book published in 1955, “Gift from the Sea, “was inspired by her secret getaways to Captiva Island off the Lee County coast with her husband, famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. But the author, philanthropist and avid shell collector was on to something when she described the beaches a place to clear the mind and relax–advice that serves the studious, always busy young population of Florida Gulf Coast University well.
Either go to the on-campus waterfront or drive west about 20 minutes, and textbooks, lectures, midterms, research papers and finals are sometimes miles away literally, and worlds away figuratively, as students gather a few of their favorite things and soak up the sun, sand, surf and, most of all, sense of togetherness with friends. A few even bring along their FGCU-inspired love of the environment.
Heather Kobrzynski, a junior environmental engineering major from Chalfont, Pa., tosses her paddleboard atop the Jeep of close friend and 2018 English literature grad Zoe Skrivan of Naples and spends Saturdays getting “in touch with the environment.
”We also try to bring out a trash bag, knives and scissors so we can collect trash and fishing line tangled in the trees,” Kobrzynski said.
Another steward of the environment, senior integrated studies major Cathy Shepardson of West Palm Beach, takes discarded coconut shells and repurposes them as bowls (1), even selling them through what she calls her “zero-waste shop,” Mango Earth. The pictured bowls are ones Shepardson said she “custom wood-burned for two friends to help them live more sustainably and make, as I like to call it, a sustainable statement.”
A day at the beach often includes music, and Alexsey Goodman, a senior from Parkland, brings it with her personal speaker (2). “I believe music is essential to bring good vibes and positivity when just relaxing and hanging out with friends,” said the communication major with a minor in education. “I love listening to music that lifts my spirit and gives off a positive message. There is nothing better than playing your favorite songs surrounded by your favorite people and the beach.”
Beach essentials also include sunglasses and hats, and some have more meaning than just being off-the-rack accessories. “My sunglasses (3) are special to me because I’ve collected them over many years, and you can have a pair to match any outfit, especially bathing suits,” said Jordan Seavy, a senior environmental science major from Anna Maria Island. “I think it’s important to protect your eyes …as well as look stylish.”
Andrea Prytulak has a special beach hat (4) that was “gifted to me by a good friend on the day of my surprise birthday party at the beach. “I love that the hat is embroidered with ‘do not disturb’ because it makes it fun and unique … the perfect summer hat to feature in vacation photos,” said the senior integrated studies major from Venice Beach.
Another must-have at the beach is a cooler (5), and Vincent Pace, a senior accounting major from Waterbury, Conn., makes sure his looks as cool as the drinks and snacks it keeps that way. “My cooler is special to me because I’ve been able to collect stickers over time that showcase my different hobbies and the different places I’ve lived,” Pace said.
Of course, the ultimate necessity is the beach towel (6), and senior art major Juliana Newman of Fort Lauderdale owns one that’s refreshing-looking, indeed. “My watermelon beach towel is special to me because it has become a beach trip tradition,” Newman said. “Its fun colors and unique design always spark impromptu photo-ops with my friends, which create memories and photos that’ll last a lifetime.”
So just as Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote that shells were her “island eyes, “these students have created and coveted their own personal reminders of salty but-sweet times along the shore.