Chris Wallace photo
Students Ben Eric Weber (left), Corbit Tyler Roberts (foreground) and Ian Michael Wooten relax next to Pike County Lake, about 10 minutes from campus. Weber is a computer science major who was a junior in the spring; Roberts, a history major who was a sophomore; Wooten, a criminal justice major who was a freshman. All are from Panama City, Florida.
Yee Hans Ng
They were ready for a fun week.
Gene Foster and his friends were planning a weeklong spring break away from school and home by visiting a beach in Florida.
While everyone was gathering beach essentials, one of the men thought of something that some might consider odd: He brought along his Xbox and played Fortnite at the beach.
“Till this day, I still don’t understand the logic behind that man’s packing,” Foster said.
According to The Odyssey Online, over 1.5 million students go away on spring break to all parts of the country. Popular spring break destinations from Troy range from Panama City, Florida, to Santa Barbara, California.
But some students, especially internationals, may take this opportunity to travel around major cities in the U.S. as well, such as San Francisco and New York.
“My five friends and I decided that we wanted to go somewhere last spring break during high school, but then our parents were strict on us choosing where to go,” said Foster, a geomatics major from Atlanta who was a freshman in spring 2019.
“Eventually my five friends and I decide to go ahead with the plan, even though our parents were being difficult.”
Take money with you
He offered advice: “Make sure that everyone is on the same page, coordinated, and, most importantly, have enough money with them because nothing is worse than being on a vacation and running out of money.”
Hunter Jacklyn, a sport therapy major from Lapeer, Michigan, who was a freshman in spring 2019, told of a last-minute trip that went wrong in Pensacola Beach, Florida, during spring break in 2018. Jacklyn said things didn’t turn out mostly as planned.
“Since we kind of winged it, we did not really plan much before heading to Florida for spring break,” Jacklyn said. “Everything from lodging to eateries were either closed or sold out when we were there.”
Jacklyn also emphasizes the importance of checking twice.
“Make sure to double-check and double-check on what will be open and what will not,” Jacklyn said. “It’ll be best if everyone is on the same plan and not to go overboard when having fun.”
While many students escape to the Florida and Alabama beaches, international students such as Jin Rong Kam take the opportunity to visit major cities in the United States.
Kam, a global business major from Ipoh, Malaysia, who was a senior in spring 2019, visited Orlando, Florida, during spring break in 2018.
“Me and a few friends of mine planned our four-day trip a few days ahead and then drove to Universal Studios in Orlando,” Kam said. “We booked a place on Airbnb, and it took us more than 10 hours to get there from Troy.”
Kam said that the only downside was that the long drive consumed a day of the planned vacation. He also said that it’s important to estimate the travel time each day will take.
“Be sure to check the weather if you’re planning to be outdoors, and also make sure to eat healthy and be hydrated while traveling because it’s hard being sick when you’re on a vacation,” he said.
The Panama City, Florida, area has its share of crime during spring break, which illustrates the need for students to be alert wherever they go.
According to the Panama City Beach Police Department and Bay County Sheriff’s Office, spring break in 2017 saw 46 firearms confiscated, 210 drug arrests, 11,000 Panama City Beach Police Department calls for service, 5,100 Bay County Sheriff’s Office calls for service, 1,100 arrests, 176 beach alcohol arrests and 43 DUI arrests.
Advice from police
“Travel in groups, and don’t go anywhere by yourself,” said John McCall, Troy University’s chief of police. “If you are driving, it’s better to have a designated driver; if you’re drinking, make sure you and your drink is safe because we’ve definitely heard of drinks being spiked.”
Lt. Clayton Jordan of the Panama City Beach Police Department said he’s met Troy University students in his city.
“Yeah, I encourage them to come down here for spring break since all sorts of people visit Panama City Beach during that time, such as church groups and also families,” he said.
“It is also important for them to know that we ban alcohol on the beaches because officers are always responding to calls on the sand, and it can definitely get out of hand during spring break.”