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  • Winter Camping?

    In August, when it was warm out, the Scouts in my Troop planned to do tent-camping this December at our local Council camp. However, the closer we got to December the boys started dropping like flies. My compromise was to reserve a cabin so that we would get them to agree to the outing. I'm bringing my tent and down bag anyway...(Our Troop is in Southern Wisconsin)

    Do any of you do winter camping? How do you prepare the youth for it?

  • #2
    We camp (in tents) all year round and we do 2 nights each outing. We are in northern MA and often camp in the Whites in NH.

    This past winter there sadly really was no winter so I will mention what we did in 2011.

    December 2010: 10 mile historic trail hike. Temps in the 20-30s, no snow

    January: Klondike Derby, 2-3 feet of snow on the ground. In setting up camp it made for natural fortifications. After the activities of the day a massive multi-troop snowball battle broke out. The kids had a great time. Temp was in the teens and twenties.

    February: Snowshoing in Franconia Notch. Kids snowshowed up the flume, a 60 ft deep gorge. They went around 4-5 miles. 3+ feet of snow on the grouns. The temp during the day was teens. At night it was @17 below zero. Kids had a great time.

    March: Skiing - etc etc etc

    Let the kids decide what they want to do. Help make sure it involves alot of moving around (sitting around in the winter is not fun)

    Be prepared: layers, correct materials, high calorie meals, winter bags (at least 0 deg rating), spare clothes (like gloves and hats)

    3 years ago we did no winter camping, now, it just another one of the things that we do. We have 11 to 17 year olds go. Personally, I think if you are going call yourself an Eagle scout, you should know how to camp in any weather condition.



    • #3
      We don't get as much "fun in the snow" as you all, but I think the trick is to camp every month. Sorta like the boiling-a-live-frog principle: He won't hop out if you start with tepid water.*

      Sure you may loose a few boys. But we find that the bug-phobic really like those snowy nights. Of course, setting the example is always good. Even when we have a cabin, I try to set up my tent at some distance as often as possible.

      *P.S. - That's just a metaphor. I've never cooked amphibians. Well not intentionally, but tangent's just for chats around real campfires.


      • #4
        don't cancel or modify the outing.....

        I have gone backpacking with my son and one other scout and the SM before.


        • #5
          We spend a lot of time teaching our boys to summer camp, but lack when it comes to winter camping. I'm thinking some of the reasons one does not plan winter campouts is because even the adults lack the knowledge to do it correctly.

          In northern Wisconsin there's a lot of boys who proudly wear their Zero-Hero patches where they camped overnight in sub-zero weather. Yeah, it's cold, but with the right training and equipment, it's really not all that bad.

          My troop missed it by one week, but a group of scouts from multiple troops attended winter camp school and the temperatures dropped to -43 degrees. The staff panicked and went out to each encampment to bring the boys in. They were all snug in their shelters and equipment and NOT ONE packed up and called it quits. The next morning the only things that did not get up and go, were the cars in the parking lot. Years later the boys are still riding high on bragging rights on that outing.



          • #6
            My Scout's gone on one winter camp, a few others have been cancelled due to poor travel conditions.

            I don't recall his reaction to the one...but the cost of all the gear that he outgrew in a month was kinda prohibitive.

            I can't imagine intentionally doing it myself...too many years freezing my tail off growing up in Ohio....


            • #7

              See if you can borrow an igloo making kit.

              Paths, Peaks, & Paddles might still rent them out by mail:



              • #8
                We camp here in NNY year round. A little snow and cold won't kill you. The best thing is if you have snow is to build Igloo's/Quinzee's and stay in them. The boys will love that.

                The guer is not that expensive, just more layers of clothing. Our troop has Ski's and snowshoes so we can do it all.


                • #9
                  Winter camping in our area means we can leave the battery-powered fans at home and actually sleep without sweating. Ahhh....Florida.


                  • #10
                    >>>"Winter camping in our area means we can leave the battery-powered fans at home and actually sleep without sweating. Ahhh....Florida."

                    That sounds like our typical summer camping trip in NNY. If you don't get to snowshoe into a camp and set up in the deap snow your missing something.

                    You know its winter when you have to get up at 2am to pee and its minus 30 degree's. You find out real quick just how bad your really have to go.


                    • #11
                      Not much call for it here in SoCal, but as a lad in the midwest... we would camp once a month, weather be damned.

                      In the winter, we used sleds to haul our gear into camp.

                      We built igloos and even snow caves to sleep in. Had an ASM who's farm we used to camp on. He'd bring out a few bales of hay and each two man snow cave team got a plastic sheet (as ground cloth on the snow) and a bale to break open as a heat layer. Put your zero degree bag on top of that and spend the night in your snow cave... most of the time, I was peeling off layers in the middle of the night from being too warm!

                      nldscout... as for the 2am nature calls... that's why God created empty Gatorade bottles Just don't drink the yellow ones...


                      • #12
                        Some good tips in this video on how to bed down for the night in snow camping:



                        • #13
                          FWIW - our boys had a great weekend even with the frost on the ground. One boy with disabilities for whom this kind of thing is really tough (he falls a lot) said, "Well, now I know what I need to prepare for winter."

                          It's not the entire troop, but there's a group of kids who you just can't keep away from this stuff,


                          • #14
                            Last year in February our activity was rock climbing at an indoor climbing gym, but we stayed at a council camp. We usually prepare to winter camp down to 20 degrees, so everyone came along, and we had a good day of indoor climbing. But that night the wind came whipping down the plains, and the temps dropped dramatically. It was so cold that as we were cutting vegetables to put into a stew they would freeze. We could not defrost the chicken for the stew, so one of the adults went into town to buy some more. When he got back, and the boys were cutting the chicken for the stew, it froze. The water in the water cooler froze. We had to put food into the ice chests to keep it from freezing. We put up a large tarp for a wind break, and had to have a flame constantly keeping water warm for warm drinks. It was crazy. I kept a keen eye on the boys to see if anyone was having trouble with frost bite or anything. I was this close to packing up and going home early.

                            Now, months later, the boys who "survived" the freezing camp out boast about their experience to scouts who did not go. They wear it like a badge of honor, and I think they will remember that camping trip as one of the definitive experiences of their scouting years. The hardships made them bond together and pull together in ways that the normal easier camping trips have never done.

                            Someone above said it is all about proper gear and camping skills. I second that. Plan the trip and teach the boys how to do it. They will value the times they had to overcome.


                            • #15
                              I think Stosh hits on the head... educating parents.
                              I've always wanted to do winter camping but our unit did it cabin style. Have you considered educating parents or doing this as a OKPIK training style campout with the cabin there as a back up?

                              I had to laugh on the 'Florida winter camping' where battery operated fans are left home. You mean we check out florida Sea Base but you don't check out Midwestern base??... *grins