I really haven’t minded growing up.

Sure, passing through the different stages of my still-somewhat-brief life has meant giving up the freedom and innocence that childhood offers. But the exchange rate in the world of adulthood is one I have found worth the trade. Well, mostly worth the trade.

At this time of year, however, I am reminded of a sensation that goes nearly beyond the realm of words. A day that represented the doorway to a kingdom of sunscreen and the smell of chlorine: the last day of school.

Whether it was elementary, high school, or college—that glorious moment in time brought with it a promise of hope that still puts a smile on my face.

In grown-up terms: it’s like a Friday afternoon before a long three-day weekend. Except instead of three days, it’s three glorious months of endless possibilities. Or at least it was for me. Sure, there were weeds to pull, lawns to mow, and fences to paint—but there were also late nights, tackle-football games, days at the beach, and—as I got into high school—the prospect of meeting mysterious girls from other schools.

I pass by a small elementary school every night on my drive home from the office. Last week, I witnessed the kids storming out and plunging into the freedom of summertime. I couldn’t help but remember.

I remember finishing up that last final. Nearly coming unglued waiting for that bell to ring. Turning in textbooks. Signing yearbooks. Basking in the glow of climbing up one more rung in the social ladder.

There’s just a nostalgic-filtered magic I get when I think about those times. It’s matchless and spectacular. And seeing those kids experiencing it with the same inexpressible glee put a smile on my heart.

Like I said, I really haven’t minded growing up. But the times, places, and people left behind still live in a treasured place that my heart loves to visit. I don’t miss scantrons, report cards, and homework. But I remember my old friend—the summertime—and it fills me with fondness and wonder.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.