In my day-to-day life I have few thoughts about Antarctica. I have never seen the Werner Herzog film (okay, I once saw like half an hour of it but I think I was perhaps sleeping? Because all I remember is that they were sad about global warming — but then again, duh.) so maybe that’s how I’ve gone so long without daily contemplating what life must be like for those scientists and researchers and bartenders who choose to ply their trade in the frigid winds of our most remote and isolated continent. But, no longer.
Because I stumbled upon this, the lovely blog of one Alina Simone — a singer, songwriter and author from the former Soviet Union who is currently based in Brooklyn and who also once met someone on MySpace (!) who actually really lived in Antarctica. Simone interviewed said friend, and here is the most revolutionary and important thing that I learned from it: Antarctica is summer camp.
Consider this article, “Why Go To Summer Camp?” by PBS Kids (obviously!) and see the ways in which Antarctica answers all reasons for summer-camp-going therein proposed:
1. “To meet new people”
Community. Friendship. That feeling you get late at night sitting up with people chatting about personal things.
- Alina Simone’s MySpace friend, when asked to name “one small good thing about Antarctica”
2. “To try new things”
I ran my first marathon there, learned to skate ski, turned a cafeteria tray into a sled, hiked as much as possible and ran outdoors almost every day. …. Before Werner Herzog visited and wrecked a snowmobile we were able to take those out every now and then, but now you can only use them after being trained.
- Alina Simone’s MySpace friend
3. “To challenge yourself”
“Spirits are high and we are all thrilled to be here, but every facet of our lives here is work. It is challenging to do normal everyday things like dress, eat — and just leaving the tent is often an act better suited for Houdini.”
4. “To appreciate nature“
5. “To get a change of scenery”
We can stare across McMurdo Sound at the glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains or at the smoldering Mt. Erebus volcano behind the station, but most people never get anywhere near those landmarks. We’re stuck in a supremely ugly town, sitting at desks and staring at computers like so much of the rest of the world. Except of course, we’re in Antarctica.
- Emily Stone, friend of Alina Simone’s MySpace friend, in The American Scholar
6. “To learn new skills”
7. “To get healthy”
8. “To have FUN!”