The fall of my sophomore year, I camped in the White Mountains or Evan’s Notch every weekend from before the semester began until I went home for Thanksgiving. It was my favorite semester of college, mostly because I climbed outside more that semester than any other—getting out every weekend whether we were hiding from rain under Rumney overhangs or enjoying the September sunshine. However, Monday through Friday, I spent most of my time fulfilling my self-imposed need to still do 93 percent of my homework and attend all my classes while also working two on-campus jobs.
Perfecting the art of weekend-warrioring in college isn’t easy, but you have a lot of weekends to master the skill. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
ONE: Camp Near the Crag…
…or play on rocks near school. Climbing every Saturday is awesome, but climbing Saturday and Sunday till early afternoon is even better. If your desired destination is more than an hour away, I’d recommend camping in the area–either via tent or the back of your vehicle–to save the time and gas ($$) it would take to do two day trips. If the drive is more than 2.5 hours, I’d recommend leaving Friday evening and camping one extra night, so you don’t waste daylight hours driving there Saturday morning.
If you’re lucky and have climbing close to school, then two full or partial day trips and sleeping in your bed in between is ideal, but don’t choose not to explore new areas just to sleep in the comfort of your extra-long twin; that’s what Sunday through Thursday nights are for.
TWO: Find a Friend Who Likes to Drive
Or suggest one person drive there and the other drive back. This way you can crank out essays, make and study flashcards, review microbiology PowerPoints, etc. in the car, so you don’t have to leave climbing early Sunday to get to the library or stay up all night scrambling for Monday. Plan your week and which assignments you should do at school (ex. those requiring internet or your lab partner) and which you can leave for the drive. If you’re extra slammed, consider studying in your tent before bed or in the morning while you eat breakfast.
THREE: Focus Sunday Night to Friday Evening, Then Play
If you’re going to climb all weekend, you have to squish school and work and general college social life all into Sunday night to Friday. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does come with some extra planning–ensuring you won’t have any weekend shifts at work–and social-life sacrifices during hard semesters. If you’re super busy, try eating one meal a day while studying or walking between classes to save time waiting in dining hall lines. Also know that you probably won’t be able to hit up the bars for thirsty Thursday every week. Instead you’ll need to do some of Monday’s homework ahead of time, so you aren’t a stressed-out wreck come Sunday at 11 p.m.
THREE-AND-A-HALF: Know When to Say No
If you’re going to be away every weekend and still pass your classes, then you’ll have to say no to a few coffee dates, long dining hall dinners, club obligations, and Wednesday Netflix sessions. Be okay with that. If you really want to escape campus two days out of every week, missing a few roommate tv-show bonding evenings will be worth it.
FOUR: Remember to Sleep During the Week
Some people sleep best on the ground. I am not one of them. Camping is great for getting your nature fix, but when the birds begin singing at 6:30 a.m. and the sun begins shining through the mesh above my head 20 minutes later, I’m up for the day. I’d recommend sleeping on a bouldering pad–instead of those 2-inch sleeping pads for backpacking–whenever possible to shield you from any rocks and roots under your tent. Also getting solid sleep (8+ hours) at least three nights during the school week will help you feel refreshed and strong for sending Saturday and Sunday: There’s no point in killing yourself Monday to Friday if you’re too toasted to climb on the weekend.
FIVE: Remember to Keep School a Priority
You don’t have to fail any classes to climb every weekend if you’re organized and focused during the week. Yes, climbing is high on most of our priority lists, but unfortunately most of us won’t ever receive money to climb, so earning your degree should be high on your priority list too.
Related: Tips for Training in College