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Keeping entertained on a Solo Trip


Lunar_Herbalist
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Lunar_Herbalist

My attention span is pretty short.  Very, very short.  What do you do for keeping children entertained when at camp?  On the trail I am good, i'm walking but once I set up my hammock and I lose an objective it hits instant bored mode, especially when I am solo.

I am in Florida, so firewood is not really necessary.  A lot of the challenge in Florida terrain are insects, and not sweating to death.  Keeping these challenges in mind, I don't have many camp chores.  I set up my hammock, my tarp, pull out my food bag, and put my bag on my chair, using the pack cover to keep the chair and pack dry.

I don't really know how to change my hiking trip into a more enjoyable camping trip when I have nothing on the schedule for hours on end.  Where I am local spots only have about 6 miles of trail or so at most.  What do you do to keep the trip more fun when you have hours to kill at base camp?

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Aaron Zagrodnick

For me it seems there's always something to do - I'm usually hiking until late afternoon to evening and setting up camp takes a while. After that are the duties of filtering water, dinner, and hanging food. By that time it's usually time to jump in the tent for the night. However, any free time I do have would most likely be taken up with photography before or after sunset, or if the fishing is good I'll have my fly rod along. In the morning everything gets reversed, just add coffee! 

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I usually spend a lot of that time simply scouting and observing whatever wildlife might be around.  I enjoy everything from observing wildlife, looking for tracks, even checking out the local vegetation.  Anything I find that might be of interest, I usually take photos of to show friends or family. 

I began teaching my daughter tracking basics from the time she was about 4 years old and made a game of it.  Kids, especially young ones, usually tend to enjoy things like this once their apprehension of the unknown is overcome.

Also, I like to use the time to simply chill when I want.  Naps are good :) 

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I could go hiking with Jay. 

First you have to become your own best friend.  Some people never really learn to be quiet and have deep thoughts.  Being solo is a time to think.  Reflect on your life,  Show gratitude for your good fortune.  Learn to deal with things you cannot control.  Develop self awareness.  

I do not really meditate which is a type of quiet where people turn off their thought processes.  But I like active thinking. 

I am a retired forester, so there is barely enough time in the day to look at the vegetation and figure out what is happening.  Wildlife tracking and observation is one of my other favorites.  I like to fish sometimes.  These activites take up most of my day. 

I like to read sometimes at night.  Once I decided to write a play to honor my Dad's 90th birthday and my parents 70th wedding anniversayr.  It took the peace and quiet of backpacking to get it done

Edited by ppine
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On ‎11‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 10:53 AM, ppine said:

I could go hiking with Jay. 

Based on what I have read in your posts, I could go with that.

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I go with a group only rarely like two years ago with 6 people in the Ruby Mtns of Nevada.  Our camp was at 9,800.  We cooked steak and lobster on three backpacking stoves.  An interesting group. 

My lady partner does not like backpacking much.   Mostly I go with the same person all the time.  We have been going on adventures for 30 years. He is a philosophy major who is a great conversationalist and a great cook.  We help each other.  He is like a Brother. 

I used to hike solo all the time up in Washington.  Now I mostly do day hikes solo with my dog. Perfect time to reflect and do some thinking. 

I feel sorry for people that have never learned the skills to keep life interesting without electronic gizmos. 

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A book and my camera tend to keep me occupied in camp, but I am also hiking more than 6 miles so there is not usually a lot of "in camp time". Sometimes it is nice to just sit and watch the clouds move across the sky.

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I thought at first you were inquiring about how you keep children entertained.Then you went into asking how to keep yourself entertained...on solo trips?

To each question can be different answers. However, you already know, at least in part,  the solution to addressing both questions. You said it in the beginning:                                                 "My attention span is pretty short.  Very, very short.  What do you do for keeping children entertained when at camp?  On the trail I am good, i'm walking but once I set up my hammock and I lose an objective it hits instant bored mode, especially when I am solo." *Spend more time on trail - hiking. Don't relegate yourself to so much in camp time. This can work with children too. Keep them and yourself engaged by seeing a hike as not only being about a starting pt, destination, and walking.

Don't ever define your time in Nature and with children as "killing time." It's a genuine opportunity to educate and be educated(YES let children and Nature educate the adult!), to feel that which isn't normally felt especially for kids these days, and to disconnect from some things our culture tells us we should be connected to, and to rekindle that connection to Nature and humanity that is innate in our souls and DNA.  It's a required time spent getting "healthier."  

When solo hiking which is most of the time and with others in a small group(less than 8) that includes children being able to walk 4-5 miles where I'm in the lead(and that's acknowledged from all adults!)  I like colorful fold out big picture pamphlets of butterflies, plants, wildlife, clouds, geology, etc I give to each of the kids. I hand out cheap instant cameras the kids all use to take their own pictures maybe of the things they saw in the pamphlets. I build in many slow down and learn as we're stopped periods. This decreases standing around in camp time. If we go by a waterfall I get them to safely feel the spray on their faces, the wind blows to enjoy  feeling  it on their faces, and the different colored leaves and leaf shapes even if it's different tones of green. Once in camp we share in camp responsibilities. We also share our pictures. Then, while still light out before sunset I pull out wildlife oriented or Dora the Explorer coloring books and crayons. It brightens up their visual cues and associations. Then we go see a beautiful sunset. Then we build a small fire and a bag of marshmallows are roasted.

All along without it seeming so while I have their attention I'm slipping in LNT ethics, how to safely ford a shallow stream, teaching respect for wildlife, how to set up a 2 p tent, how to proceed more safely on a descent,  and respect for themselves and others, etc. 

At some pt when deemed situational appropriate I stop having the notion I have to keep them entertained. If Nature and I have done my best inspiring their natural interests and awareness have evolved they can spend more time entertaining themselves and others with some degree of budding personal outdoor character.    

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Lunar_Herbalist

Dogwood, that was a glorious post.  Speaking to me on levels man.

I'm pretty green on the trail, I have done about 10 trips now I think, and all other time I spend on computers both for a job and for pleasure.

11 hours ago, Dogwood said:

I thought at first you were inquiring about how you keep children entertained.Then you went into asking how to keep yourself entertained...on solo trips?

This is true.  I was asking how to keep myself entertained, and asking how to entertain children as a comparison on my attention span.  If it works with a child it should work for an adult if the adult is humble enough.

12 hours ago, Dogwood said:

*Spend more time on trail - hiking. Don't relegate yourself to so much in camp time. This can work with children too. Keep them and yourself engaged by seeing a hike as not only being about a starting pt, destination, and walking.

my area doesn't have much in the way of miles, but we can definitely slow the pace down and spend more time with the flora, like you suggested with the next bit saying to take more photos of things.

21 hours ago, ppine said:

I feel sorry for people that have never learned the skills to keep life interesting without electronic gizmos. 

Me too, ppine.  I'm trying to learn those skills as a youngish adult.

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Another way to engage is turn the hike into an obstacle course like affair on shorter hikes. Children,  and even us older ones,  love obstacle courses. Don't just plod down the trail. It doesn't even have to be on a trail or hardcore bushwacking. Build interest for camping/hiking trips and other needed social and communication skills, wider physical and mental abilities,  by a 1 mile course down to the playground, lake, grocery store, creek, etc., Walk curbs, go down slides, see who can hang on a tree branch the longest, climb etc. I like to let children take turns individually leading. This takes me out of the helicopter in stress governed by fear parenting/guiding approach that is common. Keep things in check though. Sometimes it's best not to have their parents along. 

TU for the very kind words. My writings have been called many things but never glorious. 

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