Given that 2020 will likely end up being one of the weirdest years of his life thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Bangor High School student Evan Soucy knew that he wanted to do whatever he could to make his summer vacation count.
A burgeoning YouTuber and video producer, Soucy decided to do something he’d never done before. More specifically, he decided he’d do 15 things he’d never done before in the 15 days before he starts his junior year on Wednesday.
“I wanted to make the last 15 days of summer count, instead of wasting time indoors on our phones or in front of the TV,” he said. “We’ve all been home since March, so we really wanted to get out and try new things.”
Joined by a small army of friends from Bangor High, Soucy, 16, started his Make It Count project on Aug. 17, kicking it off by exploring the roofs of three downtown Bangor buildings — the Tarratine, L/A Fitness on Columbia Street, and the Camden National Bank building.
On day two, he baked a cake from scratch (chocolate chip). On day three, he created a painting and walked around downtown Bangor asking people to display it until someone said yes (the Zillman Art Museum said no, but the Briar Patch bookstore said yes). On day four, he ran a mile in blue jeans (not as uncomfortable as you’d think).
Day five was his favorite so far: he and his buddies went cliff jumping at the Mount Waldo quarry in Frankfort.
“That was definitely the coolest thing we did. Getting up the courage to jump was really exciting,” Soucy said.
For days six and seven, he went out to his friend Fritz Oldenburg’s camp on Alamoosook Lake, where he did lots of things he’d never done before: waterskiing, kneeboarding, fishing and driving a boat. On day eight, he walked to another town (Brewer); on day nine, he and his friends taste-tested fast-food French fries (McDonald’s won); and on day 10, he was interviewed by a newspaper (the Bangor Daily News, the results of which you are reading right now).
Soucy will round out the project with several more quirky activities, including touring all the public parks in Bangor, and finding a restaurant in town that will name a sandwich after him — something he tried to do earlier in the week, but he had a hard time finding a restaurant to get on board.
“I think people were like, ‘Who is this guy?’ when I asked them,” Soucy said.
Soucy has been documenting each day with a series of videos on his YouTube channel. He said he’s inspired by famous YouTuber Casey Neistat, who in 2012 produced a viral video called “Make It Count” for Nike. In that video, Neistat and his friend spent the entire budget Nike gave them to make a film about them traveling around the world, rather than on making a more traditional promotional video. The resulting video has since gotten more than 30 million views on YouTube.
“That just really inspired me to do what I could to make this summer count,” Soucy said.
Soucy actually tried to do a similar sort of project last summer, on a smaller scale, but found that he didn’t have the resources and hadn’t planned far enough in advance to make it work. This year, he started planning months ago, and found that with the help of his friends, and with the help of a number of Bangor-area businesses, he was able to pull it off.
“It was really cool to meet all these people that we’d never met before, and realize that sometimes all you have to do is ask, and people will let you do stuff,” said Roland Ladd, a fellow Bangor High junior and one of Soucy’s regular cohorts on the project. “It definitely gave me a new appreciation for Bangor.”
Soucy plans to attend school full time in person this fall, as opposed to taking classes all remotely or opting for a mix of remote and in-person learning. He said he’s not very worried about going back to in-person instruction, and is actually looking forward to it — though he knows that just about anything can happen, and the future is still unknown.
“That’s kind of why it’s important to live for the moment,” he said. “You never know what is gonna happen.”