It’s that time of the semester! These past weeks the students have been preparing both physically and mentally in their Field Instruction class for the challenge of solo camping.
In the 21st century, people seem to be in constant connection through the internet, Facebook, instant messaging, cell phones, and a plethora of other means. The solo experience is meant to be a way for students to ‘unplug’ and take time to reflect on their lives and their experiences at Conserve. Each student spends 24 hours alone at their solo site. They can read, journal, play an instrument, draw, write letters, and many other things. Electronics aren’t allowed, but students do have their cell phones in a sealed envelope for emergency use only.
Wednesday morning the students arrived at the Lowenstine Academic Building (LAB) with their packs and bear vaults at 10am for a hearty brunch. After brunch the students got underway packing their bear vaults full of an assortment of food and snacks. After packing their food and making some final checks to be sure they weren’t forgetting anything, it was time for the students and leaders to head out.
The student sites are spread out throughout the 1200 acres of Lowenwood. Some are on the shores of the lakes, others deep in the woods. Twenty-four hours alone in the woods can be an intimidating time for the students. Yet never fear! Throughout their time the students and group leaders go through a series of non-verbal, non-visual check-ins to ensure that the students are doing well. After their first 24 hours the students are able to come into the group site where the leader is and spend their second night with the group. For those who would like there is the option to have a two-night solo.
Rain or shine, cold or warm, the students all agree that the solo camping experience is a great one!
–Graduate Fellow, Leanna Jackan