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Why All Women Should Try Camping Alone

5 Reasons to Leave Men and Children Behind While You Sleep Beneath the Stars

By Shell St. JamesPublished 3 years ago 8 min read
My home away from home! Tent + screenhouse at the lake (photo by author)

Ladies, if you’ve never camped solo, you are missing out on a tremendous experience!

Gather around my virtual campfire, and let me tell you why…

I’ve always been a child of nature.

Growing up in New England, I took advantage of the beautiful mountains and rivers dotting New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

I’ve backwoods camped, canoe-camped, and even winter camped, after skiing across Aziscohos Lake with a 38 lb. backpack (sounds extreme, but I require books on vacation).

When I was forty, I hiked the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii, and swam in the amazing hidden waterfalls, encouraged by the fact that Kauai has NO snakes (yes, that would be zero snakes), but keeping a watchful eye out for wild boar, known to be aggressive.

My life has been filled with wilderness adventures.

But I had never camped entirely alone until ten years ago.

photo by author

Nature Calls

When I was forty-three, I was in the middle of a divorce.

It was the month of May, and I was itching to get out into the woods, but not just for a stroll, or a hike.

I was longing to fall asleep while listening to the owls hoot, with starry skies above me. To open my eyes in the morning and be greeted by tree-tops visible through the screen windows of the tent roof.

I needed to go camping.

Camping had always been a part of my life, even in my marriage. My husband and I and our two dogs, sometimes joined by his teen-age sons, would go camping a half dozen times every summer.

We had our routine down pat, each of us having a separate role in the process.

I had also camped many times with groups of friends, and gone on all-girl trips…but this particular time in my life was different.

I wanted solitude.

I needed silence, to process all that was changing in my life.

photo by author

Takes Two Men to Assemble???

The first stumbling block I encountered was one of those forehead-slapping moments.

In dividing our belongings, acquired during a decade of marriage, I had totally forgotten about the camping gear, stored away in the shed.

I now had nothing. Not a campfire pot to… cook in.

All the neat little accoutrements I had curated over years of browsing sporting goods sections were gone. Everything…stove, chairs, tarps, tents, sleeping bag, even ropes.

Everything had been left behind, and I was not about to go back and ask for my share.

Off to the store I went.

photo by author

As I stood in the camping goods aisle, perusing the selection, the first thing I noticed on all the boxes of dome tents was the label.

“Takes Two Men to Assemble”

Not “people”, the advisory label actually said “men”, with a silhouette of two burly fellows on either side of the green triangle tent icon. Ha!

I huffed out a breath.

I was determined to have a tent I could stand up in, not a pup tent that I’d have to lie down in to put on my jeans. It would have to be a dome tent.

I dropped the tent in the shopping cart, along with a two-burner stove, propane, sleeping bag, a flashlight, lantern and clothesline.

It was time to get into the woods!

photo by author

Basking in the Approval of the Universe

It was a lovely weekend to camp.

I was right at the edge of a beautiful lake, and not only was there a full moon the first night, but it was a super-moon!

I took this as a sign the universe approved of my independence.

I had no trouble with the tent, I just needed to be a little inventive.

When another person was needed to synchronously hold an opposite pole in place, I looped a bit of clothesline around it, and secured that to a tree branch.

Working my way around the tent in a circle, with branches assisting me, I was able to assemble the tent in less than twenty minutes.

I proudly took a selfie with my tent behind me and went about setting up the rest of my campsite.

Late that night, as the super-moon rose, brilliantly illuminating the night sky, I sat contentedly in front of my crackling campfire, drinking wine and reveling in self-satisfaction.

After all the uncertainty of the past few months, it was a relief to know I still had this.

I still had nature in my life.

More importantly… after being “one half” of a couple for ten years, it was reassuring to know that, alone, I was still a force to be reckoned with.

The experience of solo camping changed me.

I went several times that year, and now, ten years later, I still make a habit of going camping alone at least once or twice per season.


5 Reasons Why Women Should Try Solo Camping

photo by author

1) Self-confidence/self esteem

If you’ve never done it, you won’t believe what a big boost of confidence this will give you!

The very act of erecting your own shelter, gathering wood, building your own fire to cook on, not asking anyone for any help…it’s a game changer.

Whenever life throws you a curve, or you land in an uncomfortable moment where you’re trying to find your footing, you’ll have this in the back of your mind.

You can do this. You can do anything.

You. Are. Powerful.

2) Self Care

The first thing I noticed on that long-ago weekend, was how delicious it felt to have no obligations to anyone but myself.

I had my tasks to accomplish (assigned by me), and then I just kicked back.

I didn’t have a schedule; I didn’t have to see to someone else’s needs. If I was hungry, I ate. If I wanted to swim at midnight, I swam.

I could choose to read all day long or take a walk. I had no keeper.

I didn’t have to make sure everyone stayed happy.

We all need that!

We, women, are programmed to be caretakers our whole lives, and it’s easy to fall into a pattern where everyone else’s needs come first. We habitually neglect ourselves.

Take care of you! You are worthy of your own undivided attention.

Solitude can be so relaxing! (photo by author)

3) Fitness/Health

Even if you car-camp (as opposed to hiking in with your gear on your back), camping solo will give you a work-out.

Just the very act of setting up your own tent, or hanging a tarp to protect your picnic table, requires you to stretch and bend.

It will improve your coordination (think tying/untying knots and balancing on a stump to put up a clothesline), get your heart pumping, and give you a much-needed dose of vitamin D.

"In a study released in October 2020, approximately 42% of Americans suffered from vitamin D deficiency." - National Institute of Health

So, get out in the sunshine!

Additionally, when you’re outside anyway, chances are pretty good that you’ll engage in some other form of physical activity, like taking a walk or going swimming.

4) Self-Acceptance

This is different than self care, or self-esteem.

What I mean by self-acceptance is the freedom to put vanity aside for a day or two. Just be you, as nature made you.

Don’t worry about the lines on your face, or your messy hair, or how you look in a bathing suit. Don’t be concerned about whether or not you look pretty.

I’m sure there are women out there who don’t abide by these expectations put forth by our male-dominated society, and kudos to you!

You are truly my heroes.

But the majority of women I know, even if they don’t wear makeup or paint their nails, are still plagued daily by insecurity regarding their appearance. Including myself.

When you are camping solo, you should try to leave all that behind you.

Concentrate on how you feel, and enjoy what your senses are discovering about the natural environment around you.

Try to avoid using a mirror, unless you need one to brush your teeth or put on sunscreen.

There will be plenty of occasions to primp - if you choose to do so - when you return from your adventure.

photo by author

5) Be a Role Model

A few years back, I was setting up camp in the late afternoon.

A man and his family were one site over, about 100 feet away. When I heard the low tones of the wife, urging her husband on, I thought, “Not again,” with an internal sigh.

Sure enough, the husband and teenage son came wandering over, inquiring if I needed help (the man, about my age, referring to me as “little missy”, which cracked me up).

I smiled and shook my head, but they appeared unconvinced, hovering awkwardly for a few minutes as I finished hanging a tarp up over my tent.

I was mildly irritated that they were intruding upon my personal space, but I kept a smile on my face, finished my task, and brushed past them.

In heading west for some sunset pictures, I had to walk up a hill that led me past their own campsite.

There was a little girl of about eight standing between our two sites, watching me with wide eyes.

I later bumped into her and her mother in the camp store, where I was chatting with the ranger. The little girl seemed to hang on every word, lingering at the counter while her mother picked out supplies.

The family packed up to leave the next day, but the mother brought her daughter over to my site as the men carried their gear up the hill.

The little girl shyly said hello, and her mother told me,

“I just wanted you to know, Laurie was very taken by the fact that you’re camping alone. She says that’s what she’s going to do when she’s all grown up!”

The smile didn’t leave my face all weekend.

photo by author

So, with warmer weather coming, I hope you heed my suggestion, and give solo camping a try!

No matter what reason or circumstance leads you to it, I’m sure you’ll find something of value to take away from the experience.

See you in the woods!


About the Creator

Shell St. James

Shell St. James is a New England author living in an 1895 farmhouse with her musician soulmate, feline muse, and a benevolent ghost. Her novel, "The Mermaid of Agawam Bay", is available on Amazon. Find out more at

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