Camping Solo: Reminding Myself I Can Rely On Myself

My camping setup

If you follow my instagram, you know that I have a deep love of nature and the outdoors. Many of my photos come from my own backyard, or on the woodland trails that wind through the forests of my neighborhood. However, you’ve probably noticed that a lot more of them are coming from my camping adventures lately. That’s because I’ve been able to escape more often.

Truthfully, I’ve always been capable of gifting myself the time to get away and recharge amidst the trees, but I haven’t always known that. I’ve enjoyed camping since I was a small child; my parents used to take my sister and I on short getaways. I’ve never felt as free in cities and suburbs as I do when hidden in a tent in the wilderness. My tent is my happy place, but until this year, it was woefully underused.

Dependence Led to Disappointment

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go camping last summer, or that I didn’t think of it. On the contrary, I tried to make plans with everyone in my social sphere who might have had even a passing interest. It didn’t work. Most of those people agreed that it sounded like an excellent adventure, and expressed excitement over it. Typically, we didn’t get much further than that. I would hear that we should make plans, but then couldn’t get the other person to look at their schedule. Still, that was somehow less frustrating than those who did form concrete plans with me, only to bail as the big day drew nearer. There were a lot of disappointments, and I started to feel like I couldn’t rely on on my friends.

That’s a horrible feeling, especially because I knew it wasn’t really true. I can rely on my friends in many, many ways. If I ever need a ride, or a good meal, a reference, emotional support on a bad day, or so many other examples, I know my friends will be there for me at the drop of a hat. I just can’t rely on them for everything. Some things I have to do for myself.

When I'm camping solo, I can fit my whole setup into my car. I have my air mattress on one side, and my cooler and hiking bag on the other side.

I’m Fully Capable

Like I said, I’ve been going camping since I was a kid. Even aside from the family trips, I spent nine summers of my childhood at Girl Scout Camp lighting campfires, tying knots, and sleeping in tents. When I took inventory of my skillset, it became obvious that my primary motivation for bringing someone along with me was the value of their company and not the practical assistance they could provide. If my main goal was simply to get out there in the woods, then the social contact could be sacrificed. After all, I can set up my tent, start a fire, and then cook without trouble and entirely unaided. I even have fairly extensive first aid training, should I be unlucky enough to need it.

I’m also perfectly capable of keeping myself entertained. When I go camping, what I’m seeking is the quiet, and a reprieve from the constant motion of my daily life. Conversations with the right people can be calming for sure, but they can also be a distraction from the nature I’m trying to immerse myself in. For the full experience, I may be better off bringing a book instead of a fellow human.

Books are the best companions for camping. A picture of an open book leaning against my knees inside my tent, looking out on my kayak and the water.

Going Alone Renewed My Love of Camping

Getting out there in solitude felt surprisingly different than doing so with company. I found a far deeper connection with the soil beneath my bare feet, with the wind rustling through the limbs of the trees, with the sounds of bird songs in the sunlight and the crickets when the moon and stars appeared. I would have been less inclined to notice any of these if my focus was on social interaction. In all likelihood, I wouldn’t have spent so much time meditating and flowing through my asana practice.

Those were some of my favorite moments during my recent excursions, and there’s a strong possibility that I wouldn’t have had them if I hadn’t decided to test my independence. I also discovered a new wealth of confidence inside myself. I touched on this a bit in my last post. By waiting for someone else to make time for the plans I wanted, I was essentially waiting for their permission. It wasn’t required. Once I had that realization, I had a newfound freedom.

Me smiling in front of my camping setup, including my tent, a folding chair with table, and a very dirty yoga mat.

I’m in charge of what I do with my time – both the commitments and responsibilities I’ve agreed to, and the way that I enjoy my unscheduled time. Remembering that allows me to stop hesitating and wavering in indecision, and I can maximize the moments that I have. Each of us only gets so many of them, after all.

I’m the one in charge of my life, and knowing that lets me live it so much more thoroughly.