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I as many of you know do not enjoy the cold.

Thanks to having 3 dogs, I do have to venture out in it everyday.

I do have what I have been led to believe some of the very best winter clothes and do dress for the cold.

Depending on what sort of mood I'm in, we walk between 3 and five miles everyday.

In past winters this hasn't been all so bad.

Rory is happy to trot along side of me, never straying very far. Friday the little stray that moved in, tends to do her own thing. Taking little side trips, but never being gone for more than a few minutes and will come running when called.

This is my first winter with Ollie, our English Setter.

He is coming along fine. At the start of our walks we spend about twenty minutes on his short leash (About six foot long.) We try and cover all the basic training stuff.) After that we switch to his long leash a fifty foot rope. He does OK but is still very birdy and wants to chase anything that moves. (He really enjoys creeping along the corn fields in "Hunting mode" till the doves fly out and then he pulls like heck -My poor arm!!)

Yesterday was a really cold day. I'm not sure what the wind chill was but I think the high for the day was only in the teens.

As I was walking I thought about the thread that this one was spun from.

Back when I was active with a Troop. We didn't winter camp. We were happy to put most of the tents away in late October and that was the end of tent camping until Easter.

Easter was when the youth leadership and a couple of adults went to visit where we would be camping for summer camp.

We did in the winters use cabins and did use Youth Hostels for hikes. So it wasn't that we did nothing in the winter, we just didn't camp in tents.

As I walked yesterday it was as much as I could do to keep Ollie on his leash. I was fully dressed for the weather. Still my mustache froze.

My hands even with gloves on were cold and I had to keep changing hands, changing the rope from one hand to the other.

While I have attended a few of our District Klondike Derby Winter events, which to be very honest seem to offer the same old same old program (Lighting a small fire and burn through the string as quickly as possible, make a stretcher using poles and a blanket).

To be honest I have never been that impressed with what has been offered.

Some local Troops do use a site owned by Greater Pittsburgh Council which does have cabins and some great hills. The Scouts have a great time racing down the hills on whatever will make the trip!!

Other Troops do camp. But it seems to me that the camp is all about having the bragging rights to say "We camped when it was minus whatever" The temp. was! The entire program is about just keeping warm.

It was so very cold yesterday that I can't imagine me being able to do much more than what I was doing!

So my question is:

What do you do when you take Scouts camping in the winter?

Is it just about being able to say "We winter camp" ?

What sort of program do you come up with?



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Yah, you southerners! :) No such thing as cold weather, just poor choices in clothing! We have lads out all season long. Winter campin' sure beats mosquitos and black flies.


Yeh do the same things winter camping that yeh do summer camping. Well, maybe a bit less swimming ;). Hikes, ski and snowshoe hikes, skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing instead of rock climbing, ice boatin' instead of wetwater boatin' (but if yeh like wetwater, rafting is possible and can be done all year!). Tracking is a lot more interesting and fun for beginners with some snow cover. Then add in some skatin', some hockey on the pond perhaps, insane, never-ending snowball fights (G2SS hasn't yet banned kids in snow camo tossing a snow grenade into da enemy patrol's camp :cool: ) and da like. Yeh can still do pioneering stuff, but it's even better with snow to build walls and igloos and quinzhees. A few troops hook up with mushers a bit further north and go dogsled campin'. And believe it or not, ice fishin' is popular with a unit or two. Shootin' sports are fine, too, eh? Lots of boys see their dads goin' out hunting in this weather; they're happy as clams to be usin' da rifle range in the snow.


Yah, sure, there's some braggin' rights over sleepin' out when it's -30F (real, not "wind chill"). Just like there's braggin' rights for doin' a long bike ride or hard hike in the summer. Part of the fun, but by no means all of da fun. Kids and snow is like kids and bouncing rubber balls, eh? If yeh leave 'em alone, they have a blast inventin' new games and challenges.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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If God had intended people to go outside when the temperature is below 70*, He would never have given us thermometers and weatherpersons. Just a personal view.


That said, I have two dogs that have to go out, weather notwithstanding. When it's cold (as defined above), I break out my old military fieldgear. The lower the temp, the shorter the walk.

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Winter program ideas:


- Outdoor photography

- Lumberjack contests (seem to work better in winter than summer)

- Outdoor cooking (the hottest or spiciest dish wins?)

- Snowshoe-walking contest

- Introductory skiing clinic for first-timers

- Nature walks


I've never been impressed with the burn-through-a-string-fastest contest, as it doesn't test any Scout skills. When we build fires, they're for a purpose - cooking or emergency heat or camp fire camaraderie, not burn rate.

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"I've never been impressed with the burn-through-a-string-fastest contest, as it doesn't test any Scout skills. When we build fires, they're for a purpose - cooking or emergency heat or camp fire camaraderie, not burn rate."


I am not impressed either. The fastest string burns I have seen are those that scouts do nothing but gather a pile of leaves and set it on fire. They have something that burns hot and fast for a few seconds but serves no useful purpose other than burning strings and making a lot of smoke.

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Just got back yesterday from a winter trip. We had the Troop and a bunch of Webelo's so we did rent a cabin. A few boys slept outside. I brought my tent but never got around to setting it up.


The weather was teens and twenties but the guys spent a great deal of time outdoors. Me and my two boys (2c and W1) went to the camp Friday afternoon so my son could plot out an orienteering course for his MB.


On Saturday, about 30 boys and a few dad's honed their compass skills and were out for several hours. Since htey were moving along, no one complained except one of the dad's who wasn't really prep'd for the bitter cold. He's not the outdoor sort of guy but is a good sport and will do anything for his boys). We sent them out to scrounge firewood but a 2 hour snowball fight ensued instead. No big deal since we really didn't need the fire anyway. They also found a hill and went sledding for a few hours. The guys all learned how well layering and no cotton works and enjoyed the entire weekend. I literally did not hear one complaint all weekend. They were too busy having fun.


I made my first trash can turkey and the scouts made a few box ovens. Learned an important lesson too. Spontaneous combustion happens. When done cooking, leave the oven door open so the coals can cool. The boxes were too close to the cabin. God looked down on us as one boy went outside just as the box burst into flames, so he kicked it into the snow. Man, they were great heavy duty boxes too but all of them lit up.

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Yah, almost forgot First Aid practice! Winter is da best time of year for first aid scenarios. It really makes 'em think about patient care and comfort, keepin' shock victims warm and all that. Lots of roles for "support staff" and creative thinkin' about evacuations.




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I enjoy the winter camping topics. Winter camping in the north is not the same as winter camping in the south. Northern troops can quite successfully camp in below zero temperatures - something I wouldn't dream of doing with our troop. Then again, cold around here is anything below 40 . Yes, Beavah, it's all about proper clothing and preparation. One of our biggest challenges to get these guys ready for the cold weather is helping them understand that the hoodie they wear every day to school in winter just to get out of the bus/car and walk into the building, simply won't do when they are out in the cold weather for more than five minutes.


We start that preparation by continuing outdoor activities on our meeting nights even when it's cold. So, it's 40 degrees and windy on meeting night and the guys are practicing compass bearings in the parking lot. Sheesh, they know they are going to be outside and yet they show up - no hats, no gloves, only a jacket or the ever-present hoodie. Kinda opens their eyes about 'staying' out in the cold. They wind up better prepared for the December campout.


In November we always go backpacking. Daytime temperatures are usually very mild, but it can get very cold in the mountains at night. On last month's trip it dropped into the 20s at night. We knew that going in. We always check the weather forecast for where we are going. It is a training moment for the boys to learn how to be prepared for cold weather.


Every year we go to our council camp in December for our "winter" campout. We don't use tents, but stay in the camp's adirondacks - three sided wooden structures with bunks built into the walls. Arguably colder than staying in tents, but the guys like it.


We are leaving this Friday for this year's annual trip. Activities always include a couple of older scouts setting up a very long orienteering course that will take the buddy teams of younger scouts all around the camp - over the river and through the woods so to speak. They go over wood tools safety and new scouts earn the totin' chip. Patrols have a cooking competition for Saturday dinner. The boys usually retire a few flags that we've collected during the year. Star gazing, navigation at night, in the meadow if the sky is clear. Since we live in a drought zone and cannot build campfires through most of the year, the guys really look forward to building the fire on Saturday night. They always look forward to this trip and it is one of the first to go on the calendar when they do their annual planning.


We are not in it for bragging rights about how cold it is when we camp. The coldest we've experienced was 19 degrees with and icy drizzle. Quite frankly, that was lousy. Of course, the story of the frozen pancake batter always comes up. Another time it started snowing the first night. Pretty one inch blanket of snow on the ground in the morning and the guys loved it - snow is a rarity around here. Younger son is the only scout in our troop now that went on that trip and always talks about the barrel races they did - guys got inside the large plastic trash barrels used at the council camp and slid down a snow covered hill. Every year as we prepare to head out for this trip, he always comments that he hopes it snows.


On the flip side, being in the south, we've had our "cold weather" trip when the temperatures reached 70 degrees during the day and a mere 50 at night. Personally, I prefer that.

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Our favorite winter campout is more of a weekend lock-in at the Army National Guard armory in Angola, Indiana, not far from Fort Wayne. Each February, the Guard let's us use their facilities for the weekend including their indoor basketball court, showers, and full-service kitchen.


For outside fun, on Saturday morning, we head over to Pokagon State Park where they have a dual-track, quarter mile toboggan run. Four scouts each get on two toboggans and race each other down the track. We take pictures of each team as they race down the hill. At the end of the run, the scouts pick up their toboggans and haul them back to the starting point for the next race.


The races continue for several hours until the guys get too tired to carry the toboggans at which point we break for lunch. After everyone has had some chow, warmed up, and rested up, we head over to the adjoining sled-riding hills and spend the rest of the afternoon sledding down the hills in store-bought sleds and in sleds that several of the scout teams have built throughout the year.


A couple years ago, an enterprising group of our Venture Patrol scouts built what they called their "death sled". They collected a couple of old abandoned grocery carts from the local grocery store, bolted them onto a 2" x 4" lumber frame, and mounted this contraption onto several old snow skis acquired from the Salvation Army store. Reminded me of an episode of the Little Rascals.


They successfully raced the "death sled" down the hill several times and thought they had become quite proficient until they tried to load about 12 scouts on board all at once. When they ran it down the hill, it hit a tree, and the runners broke beyond repair. That was the last run of the "death sled". We got some great pictures from that trip, and they still talk about the "death sled" to this day. The new scouts think it's an urban troop legend, and everybody always looks forward to February every year :cool:, :cool:, :cool:.


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We often do a February backpack in the Shenandoah National Park. There are some primitive cabins that can be rented and they all involve a hike-in. Last year it was about 3.5 miles with an 1800' climb. Scouts did not have to carry tents, pads, pots or cookware (the latter items being stocked in the cabin) so it wasn't too hard for the scouts new to backpacking. While it can get cold in the region we have usually had hiking temperatures above freezing dipping into the high 20's. Trail can get a little icy in the shady spots but it is manageable. Not all the scouts are up for the challenge which is just as well as the cabins only hold 10-12 total. The hike built excitement for our summer high adventure trek and some of the scouts still think of it as the first "shakedown".


We tent camped at SNP a couple of years ago and the senior scouts were griping because it never got below 45 degrees. So much for "winter camping" (I think I hear the guys in Wisconsin and Michigan laughing at us).

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This thread got me thinking about some of my winter camping experiences in Scouting and with my dad:


- My first Klondike Derby in Connecticut, I forgot mittens and a hat. Dad snuck away to a gas station and returned with snowmobile mittens and a Pittsburgh Steelers stocking cap. Saved my life.


- Troop outing in the Buckhorn on the Olympic Peninsula. Had a huge snowball fight with a frozen pond as no-man's-land. Had to thaw out the fuel lines on our rides home with coals on a garbage can lid. Dad's idea.


- High adventure trip to Hurricane Ridge. Blizzard closed down the road and lodge after we were already up there. Snowed 17 inches that night. Slept with a propane bottle under my armpit so I could have hot chocolate the next morning. Yep, Dad's idea.

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There's no two people alike. I spend 8 hours a day sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen. For lunch I went out, ate my yogurt, apple and drank a soda while sitting outside on a bench in 20* weather warning for Wisconsin (blowing snow and slippery roads). I watched the deer play in the woods just beyond the pond the bench was sitting next to. After work I went out in the moonlight and cross country skied for a couple of hours before coming home to 3 hours of snow shoveling of sidewalks and driveways. Oh, the parking lot at the forest where I skied, was full and I had to find alternate parking. I'm not the only crazy here. This morning it was -3* when I went off to work. I haven't decided where I'm having lunch today. I may have to eat while walking to keep warm. And for all those who think I'm young and foolish, I'm 58 years-old so that makes me old and foolish. :^)


Oh, and by the way, I had to hang my wool long-johns, sweater, snow pants and jacket up because I had perspired enough to soak them through.


When it's -20* I can put another coat on, when it's 110* there's only so much one can do.



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If you were here in Northern Virginia you could have gotten by with a lightweight rain jacket. High today was 65 with a light rain. We are supposed to get some of your cold air this weekend but still we are only talking about nighttime lows in the upper 20s. Long range forecast is for 15" of snow. That is for the whole winter! Of course it will be colder in the mountains and there will be more snow but winter camping here is not what you guys do in the land of milk and cheddar.


Now you want to talk suffering, check out our humidity in August.



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