It’s hard to believe that it’s already November. It finally feels like fall: the weather is brisk, the wood stoves are in full swing, the leaves are falling, and the sun sets far earlier than it used to. Everyone took advantage of the fall weather this past weekend during our solos on the neck. Classes ended early on Friday and afterwards we gathered on the quad to make final solo preparations. We made our way through the dining hall, picking up food rations of G.O.R.P., crackers, cheese, carrots, and celery. I carefully selected my G.O.R.P. bag, trying to find the ideal combination of cheerios, chocolate chips, and raisins. If I was going to be out in the woods for two nights, I wanted to be sure that I had my meals covered.
Around 2:30PM, the students said their goodbyes and headed off to their separate solo sites with their advisors. My own advisee group was quiet; we were already in “solo mode”—preparing for the next few days when we would have no contact with each other. I’ll admit, nervous anticipation played a large part in my silence. I was well prepared to camp out by myself—we’d had a wilderness trip in September, an Outdoor Encampment in October, and the faculty had taught us how to set up our tarps—but the thought of being completely alone was new and different. I imagined myself getting bored halfway through and not knowing what to do.
I was pleasantly surprised. At MCS, you rarely have free time to yourself. Being alone in the woods, where I was free to make my own decisions about when I would eat, when I would go to sleep, what I would do next, was a great feeling. I was able to do what I pleased. I left all thoughts of homework and schoolwork behind and enjoyed knitting and writing in my journal, things I often don’t have time for.
The worst thing about solos was that they were cut short. On Saturday morning, I heard the foghorn, signaling that everyone needed to return to campus. A storm was on its way—one with strong winds and torrential downpours. Although I was disappointed, it was just as nice to be able to cuddle in my cabin that night, hearing the rain and wind outside, knowing that I was cozy and warm with my cabinmates beside me.
-Maddy Woodle, Bellport, NY