Many cool to "polar plunge"

Hagen Davis recently plunged into the ice-covered frozen Pleasant Lake in Deerfield. Photo courtesy of Nick Nelson.

The latest fad among high school students in New Hampshire is a dare called the “polar plunge.”

A quick jump or dip in an icy lake, river or pond in nothing but a bathing suit has caused controversy between parents, administration and students all around.

Much different than a sponsored event for charity, such as the traditional Penguin Plunge at Hampton Beach, which benefits Special Olympics, the polar plunge is initiated by  being dared, or “called out,” by a peer who has already taken the plunge.

The person dared then has 24 hours to make a plunge into near hyperthermic waters and then call out five new culprits.

What might be just plain spring fun to some is of great concern to others.
Concord High School Principal Gene Connolly sent out an e-mail to all teachers and parents early last week warning that “possible consequences to the health of students who choose to take the plunge dare include hyperthermia, bodily injury, concussion, post-immersion collapse, being pulled by current, and more.”
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department yesterday issued an urgent warning that youth not participate and that family and community members “stay alert” to teens discussing plans to making the plunge.
“The potential for life-threatening incidents to occur, because of the Polar Plunge trend, is huge,” said Conservation Officer and Fish and Game Dive Team Member Glen Lucas.
Student opinion is mixed.
“I think it’s fine. I don’t think it’s dangerous like some of the adults at our school. I think it’s a dumb new trend that teenagers are doing. I did it with a group of friends and nothing bad came of it,” said CHS junior Chelsea Hoadley.
Nick Lajoie, a senior, believes the entire craze is “lame.”
“No one cares if you can jump into a cold body of water. Communication in general is to share interesting thoughts and ideas with one another, and everyone posting almost the same polar plunge video defeats the purpose of even sharing it,” he said.
Connolly also cited the peer pressure aspect of the plunge. “The thing that bothers me the most is the impact of peer pressure on those who don’t want to participate. I don’t condone this latest craze.”
“I understand how it can be bad, the whole peer pressuring kids to do it, but I don’t see it as harmful,” said Tris Patoine, a CHS junior.