Admittedly, there's not an abundance of downtime at Deep Springs. It's easy to get caught up in the strong and steady pull of things that need doing around the ranch, for the community, and for class. The trick is making work feel like play and making play count twice.
The type of fun that exists at Deep Springs is qualitatively different from the fun at other places. With the exception of wilderness trips, there is no "recreation" planned or scheduled here, no club, no theater, no bookstores or coffee shops to hang about. You have to build the fun from scratch, something from nothing. If you want to dance, you build the dance floor, you create the lighting, you pick the music. Several years ago, a student wanted soccer, so he welded two soccer nets. If you want art, you have to make art, create an art culture. So the fun feels more a part of us.
At Deep Springs, we call dances "boogies" (BOO-jie). The music is usually pretty terrible, the dancing is high energy, and the floor gets sweaty quickly. It's unclear whether the Student Body's preference is hip-hop or techno, but either way, Taylor Swift will be played.
Music and spoken word performances are called DSPACs (DIS-pác). DSPAC is an acronym that stands for Deep Springs Performing Arts Committee. DSPACs are held once a term and are beautiful and revitalizing evenings.
There is also a lot of movie watching, and a Saturday night movie can mean everything from Ingmar Bergman to Conan the Barbarian. Most years feature a drama production or two, for those interested in acting and directing. (You can see why there's not much downtime.)
The prime time for physical activity is just before dinner when students, just finished with labor, come back to the Main Circle to play soccer or Frisbee. Faculty, staff, and the children in the community often get even more juiced than the students for games.
If classes aren't enough, students will often start academic projects for their personal enjoyment and edification. Interests range from Political Economy to Real Analysis to Poetry Workshops. Reading groups, such as the 4H Club, which discusses Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Hannah (Arendt), are popular as well.
The crafts at Deep Springs accentuate what's different about the downtime here. Students like making things in their free time. If we're not making fun, we're making things, and letting fun come from the creating. From time to time, students may be found working on projects using the college's wooodshop, blacksmith's forge, potter's wheel, mechanic's shop, darkroom, and art studio.
Deep Springers also like conversation. We talk about everything and nothing, wherever and whenever. The most common traps are the Boarding House and the Rumpus Room. Light conversation is split up evenly between topics inside and outside the valley.
Some think all the time that is not spent working for class, for the ranch, or for the college should be spent tramping around in or walking softly through the desert. The desert is a deep wellspring of beauty and peace, and its old age brings perspective to the incredibly focused life at Deep Springs.