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When is it to cold to tent camp?

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I have had a parent ask me this question and my answer is that we are prepared and we train the Scouts to camp in coldest weather we experience in our area.

 

The parent's response was that but there must be a temperature that is too cold to bring boys camping.

 

I explained that there is no temperature defined by National or Council that I know of. I have read most of the documentation that is available and double checked the Guide to Safe Scouting.

 

Being that there may be documentation out there that I am not aware of does anyone know of a documented temperature cut off?

 

Tonight's low is destined for -10 degrees at our district Klondike. When I mentioned that I camped at -10 when I was a Scout it did not seem to carry much weight. When I mentioned that this event was being put on by the district at our council camp and if there was a problem with temperature they would send us home it also carried no weight.

 

So if there is anyone out there that can find me a reference to a cold weather cut off temperature I would appreciate it.

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As long as the scout/and leader is properly equiped with a knowleged of wind chill and cold weather camping - just about any temp. I would avoid high wind chills just for safety. I lived in WY and the temps can feel deceptive. Just remember to keep stirring the snow you are melting so you don't burn up your pan.:)

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nrp1488 is absolutely correct.

 

I have no problem with a parent pulling their Scout from any event we have if they are concerned for the Scouts well being.

 

I have never tried to convince a parent to let a Scout go when they don't want them to. Using the parent card is perfectly okay with me. I will talk with parent so I can understand their concern, mostly to make sure I am not missing something but that is as far as it goes.

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Klondike Derby this weekend for Michigami District here in SOutheast Michigan. We are statying in a heated cabin, but there is no indoor plumbing. Wish we had heated outhouse seats!

 

Air temperature this morning was minus 12. Tomorrow looks to be a bit warmer. Our Scouts have spent much time on cold weather preparation. They have learned the "buddy system" to watch out for each other in the cold. They will eat lots of belly warmer food.

 

All in all, the watchwords are the usual---Be Prepared. There is no temperature which defines "too cold". On the other hand, use common sense. The colder it gets, the faster danger comes. Use your training.

 

The root of the question might be why the question was asked by a parent. If parents know the leaders are knowledgeable, experienced and well trained in the outdoors, they will be more likely to be comfortable with their Scout going on an outing in zero degree weather with you! If you have trained the boy leader swell, and they have passed that on to each Scout, you should be fine!

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I think it's too cold to camp in a tent below freezing. That's when you use igloos, quinzhees or fly shelters!

 

Yah, there's no cutoff temperature. There's no such thing as bad weather, eh? Just poor choices in clothing. If the lads and the troop are prepared, winter campin' in the deep cold is really fun. I've been out with many a Boy Scout at -30.

 

As a northerner, I wouldn't even think about canceling an event at -10F. That's just normal campin' weather ;). It's pretty routine for lads to be out when it's colder than that. And ignore wind chill. That's one of those make-believe numbers, eh? Unless you're out runnin' around in a bathing suit, your outer wind shell (yeh do have an outer wind shell, right?) is goin' to take care of the wind just fine.

 

One thing to be alert for is southerners who've recently moved up north. I remember some Army statistics that saw incidence of frostbite and cold injuries something like 4 times higher in soldiers who came from warmer climates. They just didn't have the habits of takin' care of themselves in the cold that the northern boys did. I suppose that might also apply these days to "mama's boys" who have never been allowed outdoors below 70F, and who are prohibited by the Guide to Safe Parenting from havin' snowball fights or going sledding.

 

Check their gear, teach 'em how, and then go out and have fun.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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When parents keep their Scouts from going. And attendance starts to fall for that outing.

starts about 20 degrees...

 

When the PLC says, let's look into an alternate activity or postpone.

starts at 20 degrees with additional windchill impact... we usually plan our January outing as a Cabin camp for that reason.

 

When the landowner says, let's look into an alternate activity or postpone.

starts at 19 degrees

 

When I say, "Ain't no way I'm sleeping out in that." Which has just got to be pretty bad.

I don't think I've personally slept out any colder than about 15 below(before wind chill) - my floor for all of the Scouts would be about +10 degrees. The older Scouts I'd take out as long as I was willing to do it too.

 

We don't typically get that kind of weather in this area - except for right now that is...

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I think it really does depend on how prepared you are. Being in the deep south, our boys would not be prepared for the cold weather. As Beavah mentioned us Southerners just don't usually have the skills to deal with it. Most of our boys don't have the proper clothes and equipment for type weather. Most of the boys at my son's high school only have one winter coat -- their letter jacket, unless they hunt so they might have a coat or coveralls for that.

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So far, since I became Scoutmaster, the coldest that I've been able to get the boys out into is the mid-30's, but it doesn't really get that cold in Arkansas.

Like was said earlier, it's too cold when the boys parents won't let them go and attendance starts falling, but then...my son and I just make it a father-son campout and we go anyway.

As long as the boys and leaders are prepared for the cooler temps, then there really is no problem. I know that when I was in the army, I froze my rear-end off in 30-below temps in Germany...not to mention the wind chill. I wasn't comfortable and I had no choice in the matter...but I survived (and we didn't have tents. We were out in the open).

It all depends on training, being prepared and taking into consideration the safety of all involved. I wouldn't take my troop out in anything in the lower 30's or colder, but that's because I know that we aren't prepared for it and I probably wouldn't have any boys interested in going anyway.

 

 

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As others have noted there is no "rule". It's too cold to camp when any one individual decides it's too cold. These are voluntary activities, no one is required to attend. The event is cancelled when there aren't enough adults available who think it's warm enough to camp.

 

The unit I serve camps year round in New England. We're from Massachusetts but routinely camp in New Hampsire and Maine. We did have one winter camp several years ago that turned into a survival weekend when temps dipped into the -20's overnight and most of the boys and adults were really only prepared for the - 10's. They started a fire at around 3:00 am and kept it going through the night. Since then we've tried to keep out winter campouts in the single digit range, but we're wimps from MA. I'm sure the scouts in Maine and NH are routinely out in the - digits. I noticed it's like - 35F in much of northern New England this morning.

 

SA

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Even in Arkansas I've been camping in the teens, but I knew the boys knew how to handle it and had the equipment to handle it. As has been stated if the parent doesn't want their child to go don't argue, know your kids and their abilities and equipment and make your decision based on that.

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Providing the Scouts have suitable clothing and equipment I don't think mere temperature should stop you camping, but I woud check the Scouts sleeping bags before they go.

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When the other equipment isn't sufficient. I would suggest that when it goes below zero with a significant wind, getting into a snow cave would be a better idea than a tent. I have winter camped a bit and found snow caves more comfortable than tents. Tents do well in knocking down the wind but do nothing for temperatures.

 

When I was a kid, a wall tent lined with bales of hay was pretty nice to cut down the draft and offer plenty of ground insulation. My cheap sleeping bag was wrapped in a plastic sheet and canvas pup tent and was lined with another wool blanket. I was fine.

 

Stosh

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It is too cold to camp when the pet troop monkey freezes to death. This week-end is the Polar Bear Campout for 5 River's Council. It was 2 degrees this morning, and it is to get colder tonight and tomorrow. We camped at -10 and it was not as bad as you think it would be. Everything stayed frozen and you were chilly enough to not break a sweat, but not chilly enough to shiver. The worst Polar Bear was when it got up to 35-40 degrees. It was miserable since everything was getting wet. Still a good time, but we had to have a buddy check every half hour. Lots of hot chocolate, coffee, soup, and dutch oven meals.

If the parents don't want their boy to attend, that is fine with me. I saves you the hassle of taking the boy home. You also don't want to spoil their time and loose a boy from a bad camping experience.

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Unless there is a change I missed since the mid-1980's, there is no set National policy on when it is too cold to take Scouts out camping. Check with your local Council, though - they may have their own rules regarding that.

 

In the mid-1980's, I worked at Maine National High Adventure, Howland Base, teaching OKPIK winter camping (back before OKPIK was rolled out to Councils as an activity). There were only two things that would cause us to cancel - rain and blizzard. It's much more dangerous to camp in winter temps in the rain than it is to camp in sub-zero temps when it's otherwise dry. And blizzards were dangerous because of lack of visibility on the trail (intrepid units could still camp in a blizzard, but it was in the "backyard" of the base, rather than a 1-hour ski-trip down a trail).

 

Most of the time, camp was in the 10 to -10 range (staff actually disliked weather in the 30's - snow starts to melt, and then things just get wet). Occasionally, it dropped to negative 20 or so. Just made it that much more braggable for the lads. Most of the time, we built a couple small quinzhees, but still had tents for most people (as staff, I had my own tent - but usually used a fly-shelter - which was more to try to get the adults on board with them - build a short wall of snow, as if for a snow fort, cover it with the fly - and lay down a bed of pine boughs (hidden in the woods from week to week - shhh - thats a secret) - kept me nice and toastie warm - my ski poles acted as tent poles - you can't just lay the fly flat over the top of the wall - the ski poles held the fly up a bit in the center to form a peaked roof so if it did snow, the roof wouldn't collapse). You could also build a short snow fort wall just a bit larger than the size of the tent and set the tent up in it.

 

Even though we never cancelled, there would be times when the unit's leaders would cancel - usually after the lads begged off (not to knock Connecticut or Massachussets, but the units that would cancel and go motel it for the weekend generally came from these two states - units from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont would never cancel, and oddly, units from New York would never cancel either (probably because it took them so long to drive up and gosh darn it if they weren't going to get their money's worth - remember, this was still a High Adventure Base trip, and even through it was a weekend, it was still almost as costly per lad as some summer camps).

 

Otherwise, nrp1488's answer is the definitive - it's too cold when the parent say's its too cold.

 

Calico

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