~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS5 student Tessa Chambers. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Tessa is from West Fargo, North Dakota where she attends West Fargo High School.~
Learning Goal: After completing a semester at Conserve School, a student: Demonstrates the skills necessary to feel comfortable and confident in the outdoors, both alone and with others.
I’ll admit, when I learned that students at Conserve went on a solo camping trip once within their semester I was nervous before I was even accepted as a student. As a novice in practically all outdoor activities, the responsibility of enduring a night or two seemed quite daunting. As the semester went on, and solos got closer and closer, I felt a mixture of things.
While I love it here more than anything, the academics can be fairly rigorous with a full schedule of study-intensive classes. I was perfectly aware that these two nights were not only a much needed break but a chance to catch up on things, so I began to anxiously await my initially planned one night solo experience followed by a group night.
As time progressed further, though, I realized I needed more than a single night of seclusion. One thing about living in such a small integrated community here is there is hardly any alone time. When one is in their room there is the inevitable sound of your wing mates’ voices among other human noises that makes everyone aware they are not unaccompanied – which is amazing sometimes, believe me, but definitely not all the time. Even when going out to my phenology site I expect to see at least person because that is the norm. With this being said, the evening prior to setting out and beginning the solo experience I informed my group leader that I had a desire, or perhaps necessity, to be out in my spot for two full nights.
For me personally, alone time is indispensable. The experience was wonderful and definitely something I will do again. I must admit, although I loved my group, exploration week did not have me aching for another camping trip but this was truly amazing. At the time it was happening, I can’t say I felt the admiration of my solo time as I do now, but I knew I was enjoying myself. Looking back on it, I can’t imagine anything more personal. I think of the brief hour or so that the sun was visible, and I crawled out of my tent. I was in awe as I stood with a bog ahead of me, and an overwhelming line of forest separating the infinite-appearing sky that was scattered with rotund white clouds against what seemed like a painted back drop of cerulean. I definitely would not have protested had I been asked to stay another night.
I know some people were nervous about their evenings without anyone else but I couldn’t say I felt the same. Setting up a tent is nothing more than a simple task to me at this point and while I’ve never been too great at getting a good fire going, as long as I don’t go out into too-harsh of weather and have nutritious food already prepared, that extra work is unnecessary in my mind. I recall hearing birds when I awoke and odd noises after dark but these were things I welcomed. Comfortable is definitely a word to describe my mindset during solos despite the less than exceptional weather. I don’t think I was ridiculous in being nervous when first hearing about the opportunity, but I know that’s definitely a mindset which won’t be returning to me. I discovered that for me personally, I get the most out of nature when I am the sole person experiencing it, and I’m so incredibly glad to have had this door opened to me – I will definitely allow it to lead me toward more experiences to come.
~Tessa Chambers, Conserve School Semester 5
Note: The photo above is not mine. I came across it in the “Nature Photos” folder on our shared picture drive, and think it may have been taken by Jeff Rennicke but am unsure. I would like to thank the photographer, though, for sharing it so I have the ability to post it here.