On the night of September 28th, I had my first big Montana adventure-camping! Believe it or not, this was my first time ever sleeping outside in a tent...and it was quite an experience to say the least. As we sat around the fire at Fleecer Cabin, making S'mores and listening to Bruce's stories, I excitedly told anyone who would listen about how my parents never wanted to take my younger brother and myself camping as children; how they refused to view sleeping on the ground for a week with no amenities as a vacation-thus depriving me of what I had always seen as an essential rite of growing up. All of my friends went camping with their families, so it couldn't have been that bad right? Well, as I laid down in my sleeping bag a few hours later, clad only in two layers (long underwear with PJ's on top) I all at once came to the decision that perhaps they had been onto something. I was fairly comfortable on my blow up sleeping mat and mummy bag, but my naturally cold body temperature combined with the frosty 20 degree Montana night made sleeping impossible. I could not get myself to warm up at all, my attempt at throwing a blanket on top of my face resulted in the condensation from my breath freezing over and sticking to it, and I was so frigid that I did not want to give up what little protection my sleeping bag was giving me to throw on more clothes. Needless to say, the next morning I crawled out of my tent, bleary eyed and wondering why I didn't listen to my parents.
As the days went on, and some of the older members of the Corps learned of my struggle, I was gifted with advice, tips (and even a sleeping bag liner!) on how to keep warm in a tent. I began to wear more layers of clothing, including hats, gloves and even winter jackets, was shown how to better insulate my tent, and even experimented with a homemade solar panel. (It didn't really work, but I was proud of my innovation!) In the end, I grew to enjoy the simplicity of living in nature, and the peaceful quiet that comes along with camping. That night was my very first challenge, and I am proud of myself for sticking it out. I know that there will be many more trying experiences throughout this year, and I now feel as if I am much better prepared for them, all because of one night in a tent. After all of this, I am both nervous and excited to see what the future in this program holds for me.