I first got into blogging on January first of 2012, and my memory of that day is far from vague in my head. After receiving a few pieces of camping gear for Christmas, I did what I always did with new gear- give it a test run in the backyard. I was getting a drink of water after coming in early the next morning, and my dad walked in with a challenging look on his face. In the moments that followed, he proposed a project, a goal for me to work towards. He challenged me to spend every Saturday night for a year sleeping outside. There would be no reward at the end, at least no physical reward. For those of you asking the question “then why do it?” I quote “if you have to ask the question, you will never understand the answer in the first place”. That question and answer was something I exchanged with people many many times. But for those of you who do get it, let me share what the experience taught me and how I grew as both an outdoorsman and an individual.
I’ll admit it, the first few nights were a little rough. I had done tons of camping before that year, and it wasn’t the sleeping outside that was the problem. It was the challenge, the road ahead of me- it seemed to go on forever. 52 may not seem like a big number, but it was pretty big to me at just 14 years old. I decided to start a blog to help me stay motivated. Expecting maybe a few hundred views by the end of the challenge, and mostly from family members, I was really surprised to see that I hit over 14,000 views after uploading the 52nd post. Through the blog, I learned my writing style, and improved it. I was able to reach out and interact with others, especially various outdoor forums, and gained even more support and advice through them.
There were a few standout things I remember from my Saturdays outside. The one big highlight I always talk about came in the form of an angry raccoon my 32 week. I had just fallen asleep when I was awaken by the most hideous sound I had ever heard. Sleepy and in a hammock, I freaked out a bit, not able to come to my senses for a few seconds. When I finally got my head straight I realized I was staring straight into the eyes of a raccoon that I really hope looked larger in my head than it actually was. I yelled at it, I’m not sure what exactly came out, but it definitely wasn’t words- just a bunch of loud noises from a surprised and sleepy guy. The whole thing went down in less than a minute, and the raccoon scurried off. The screaming woke up my dad, who is generally a very heavy sleeper, and I think he was just as surprised as I was. I had a few other run ins with wildlife, but none were really story worthy. The weather was something else I remember, I slept through severe summer storms and one winter storm that brought nearly a foot of heavy snow. I loved going with out a tarp during the quieter winter, and watching the snow fall all around (and on top) of me.
As I said above, there was no physical reward for hitting my 52 week goal. What I did gain though, was priceless. I don’t even realize some of the things I learned through my experience, they just happened. I gained a lot of real world skills, a lot of things many kids my age then do not have. I learned to write and take good pictures, two things that I am now very passionate about and hope to make a career out of someday. I learned a lot of communication skills, interacting with people big and small and getting advice and support for my project. This truly was a great experience for me, and I am happy a million times over, for a thousand different reasons, that I completed it successfully
You can check out the blog here: http://52nog.blogspot.com
-The Urban Outdoorsman