Just before the Perkins Institution closed for the summer, Miss Sullivan and Helen decided to spend their vacation in Cape Cod. As soon as Helen and Miss Sullivan arrived at the seaside, Helen put on her bathing suit and sprang out into the water, never having been to the shore before. She was joyful to at last be in the water, but soon found herself caught in a riptide, and tumbled to and fro in the surf. Finally, the ocean tossed her back to shore, and Miss Sullivan drew the confused and frightened Helen into her arms. After that, Helen preferred to sit on a rock near the waves and instead feel the surf spray upon her. She loved the shore, though, and felt she could never stay at the beach long enough—she loved the “free sea air” and all the creatures of the shoreline.
There was more to Helen’s education than just learning lessons and attending new institutions; she also had to learn about the world around her, and the beauty and danger combined within it. On this trip to the seaside, Helen flung herself into the ocean without any idea of the perils lurking under the surface, and though she emerged unharmed, she learned an important lesson about the power of nature. For Helen, life is a series of experiences of learning through trial and error.