|dc.description.abstract||Boys Go Bush elucidates the lived experiences of adolescent males encountering a two-day, two-night solitary experience (solo) in the New Zealand bush. A hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry framework (van Manen, 1997) was utilised to capture the essential qualities of the solo ‘as lived’, guided by the question: “what is the meaning and significance of the forty-four hour solo as experienced by students at Tihoi Venture School?”
Pre-understandings to the Tihoi solo were acknowledged via an ethnographic socio-historical chapter before nine ‘lived’ solo experiences were scrutinised by means of pre- and post- interviews, underpinned by ‘44-hour solo timeline’ experience sampling records. Of relevance was what soloists did, felt, and thought about during solo and the meanings their lived-experiences came to represent. Solo interviews proved methodologically and pedagogically significant, with the solo timeline providing a low- tech experience sampling method (ESM). The analysis of written work arising from solo, including poetry, journal entries, letters to family and friends, and letters to ‘self’, provided further insight to individual experiences. Thematic statements and linguistic representations emerged from the nine solo experiences, speaking to the complex and dynamic qualities of each solo as a unique multi-dimensional experience.
The lived solo experiences represented dimensions of positive and negative solitude (Long, Seburn, Averill, & More, 2003). Moments of sadness, loneliness, depression, and anxiety accompanied lived experiences of stress, tension, and fear. Darkness and the sounds of the bush at night accentuated soloist’ anxieties related to stranger danger and aspects of the unknown or supernatural. Moments of lived freedom, contentment, pleasure, boredom, and enjoyment paradoxically emerged during daylight hours when soloists were more active in body, mind, or spirit.
Solo experiences were further scrutinised using a ‘solo lifeworld inquiry matrix’ oriented around the four lifeworld existentials of ‘lived time’, ‘lived space’, ‘lived relation’, and ‘lived other’ (van Manen, 1997). An interpretive synthesis revealed a complexity of essential qualities integral to the solo experience, with five plausible insights emerging of pedagogical significance to adventure education. While soloists had interest and engagement with the solo environs, the emphasis upon programme reflection and the energy spent coping with apprehension and uncertainty inhibited the deepening of nature relationship. Nights were laced with anxiety and fear for most, whilst the days provided insightful reflective space and complexities associated with boredom that paradoxically led to personal insight. The adolescent solo was deemed to be an adventure that was inclusive of the classic perceptions of risk and uncertainty as well as educational opportunity, insight, embodied aesthetic experience, playful activity, and fun.
Boys Go Bush deepens understandings of the overnight solo for adolescents, highlighting a different experience from the spiritually-rewarding and deeply insightful moments promoted in the solitude literature for adults. Solo for adolescents was a challenging personal time that was endured more-so than enjoyed.||