Solos Without Time
Kelby, CS18, Goshen, IN

Tick-tick-tick, time, always passing, always moving. Every second, every minute, every hour passes telling us when we wake up when we eat when we work, and when we need to be somewhere. But occasionally time slips away, it moves in a different way, with the sun and the birds. This is how time was on solos. During my solo camping experience time was not 5:30 or 6:00 but rather it was morning, midday, and evening, when I was hungry I made myself some food and when I was tired I took a nap.

I woke up early Wednesday morning excited, nervous, and ready to have an adventure. I came to breakfast with all my gear need for two night of solo camping trip, I had my pack, tent, mess kit, fire starting kit, and my personal clothing and other such things. At breakfast, my group ate together while talking about how the day was going to go. After eating we each filled our bear vault with snacks and food for the two days we would be eating out in the woods. Once we were ready we did one last thing, we put our phone in a sealed envelope. I also decided that I wanted to lose track of time, and took off my watch. Then we headed out to our sites to get dropped off by our group leader.

Lake and trees at dusk

The next thing I knew I was at my site, all the skills from outdoor skills class came to me as I picked a good spot for my tent not to close to the water, away from your kitchen area, and not at the bottom of a steep hill. After my camp was set up I had the rest of the day to do anything. I wrote in my journal that day saying, “I’m now going to read my book”. So that’s what I did I read while a muskrat swam by me in the bog I was on. A song sparrow called from across the woods. I read for...I don’t know, I did not have a watch or a phone so I read until I got tired of reading. When I looked up at the sky the sun seemed to have stopped moving. I wondered if I had not read long or did I just miss calculate where the sun was when I first started reading. But it didn't matter. Sooner or later the sun started sinking behind the trees so I made a fire in my fire pan, and cooked supper over the fire. My meal consisted of instant chicken noodle soup and tortillas with summer sausage. After finishing my supper I secured all my food in the bear canister and tidied up camp before retiring in my tent. That night my journal read, “The sun has set on the first day of solos. Good night”.
The next day, Thursday, May twenty-fifth, I woke to the sound of birds chattering instead of the sound of an alarm. How long had I slept? What time was it now? It did not matter. All that was important was being present and enjoying the outdoors. It was the perfect time to reflect on my time at Conserve school. However, all responsibility was not gone, we did have to check in so they (solos staff) would know we were ok. We did this by moving a bandana up and down a tree a few times a day. But that was not hard. Thursday went by quickly, I climbed a tree, cooked some food, took a nap in my hammock, watched a great blue heron, and reflected on what I love about solo camping. I wrote “I love how time does not matter. I love how there are no voices blocking out the birds and animals.” After writing in my journal that night I went to bed listening to owls hoot around me and wishing I had more than just one last night out there. 

Tent and Campfire

Friday came with a cold wind. I woke up chilly as I turned in my sleeping bag not wanting to get out of my tent or even my fuzzy sleeping bag. However, hunger overcame me. I scrambled out of my tent, pulling on my boots, as I ran over to my bear vault. After retrieving the vault, I grabbed some thin sticks and birch bark to start a fire, striking a match on a thin piece of started strip the match burst into flame. I carefully lit the birch bark which quickly burns black smoke into the air as it ignites the small sticks. Soon I have water boiling over the fire ready to make a packet of oatmeal and a cup of tea. After savoring every bite of the cinnamon oatmeal I relax in my hammock taking in and enjoying the last moments of my solo camping experience, before hearing a voice come through the woods “it's time to come back to the group site to pack up.”