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asm 411

When is it to cold to tent camp?

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The first aid for hypothermia is to first remove the cause from the individual. If they are wet, get them dry. If its cold, put them somewhere warm.

Shivering is good. Its the body generating its own heat. Giving someone warm drinks tricks the body into thinking its warm and stops the shivering. This is bad, you don't want them to warm up too fast and stop the shivers. The core temp is still too low to generate its own heat and the person will relapse into hypothermia.

 

Give the person water and food. That's fuel the body needs to warm up. Warm water and put in bottles. Pack the bottles around the person in a sleeping bag. As the body naturally warms up, the shivering will stop.

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Folks, cure was in quotes for a reason. I was not stating that the "naked boys in a sleeping bag" was the best method to treat hypothermia. I will state that I feel it is one of the best methods to get the boys attention to learning about how to prevent getting hypothermia. The best "treatment" for hypothermia is prevention.

 

Treatment of hypothermia is not always simple. For mild hypothermia you want to stop heat loss by adding additional layers of warm, dry coverings. I tell the Scouts - are your feet cold - put on a hat. Are your hands cold - put on a hat. The head radiates much of the bodies heat. Obviously, go to a warm place if available. Also try to get warm liquids into the person. This is not a "trick" - warm liquids warm the core of the body.

 

For more severe cases, a thermal blanket might be necessary. Warm food or liquids that can help the body generate heat are needed. Again, concentrate on warming the core organs.

 

Treating severe hypothermia is complicated. Doing CPR could be live saving or it could lead to fibrillation and cause death. Cold blood from the bodies extremities (arms and legs, fingers & toes) can actually reduce the core temperature during warming. That is why we concentrate on warming the core. These kinds of techniques are best performed by a professional.

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Acco, the treatment for hypothermia changes like the guidelines for CPR have. In my last WFA course (2 years ago), the trend for hypotherma first aid at that time was to refrain from warm liquids due to the placibo effect and the body's reaction to the warming stimulus. The body stops shivering. Allow the victim to shiver. Warm liquids give comfort but have no real effect on transfering heat beyond the stomach. Shivering warms the organs. That's why we naturally do it. Why would you want to stop that?

 

In two weeks, I'm getting recertified in WFA, the recommendation may have again changed. I'm sure CPR has again.

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acco40, to keep your water from freezing you can bury it in the snow. Dig a hole down to the ground, put your water bottles in the hole, and bury it in snow. Snow is a good insulator and the ground will generate just a bit of heat. You have to go all the way to the ground. For us, -15 is typical and -25 is miserable. We only end up with a little bit of ice in our jugs. There are many tricks including eating like a horse. We feed our scouts dinner at 4pm and then give them a night time meal (chili or similar) before they go to bed. A nalgene with boiling water stuffed inside a wool sock stuffed inside your bag by your knees will keep you warm all night. To learn much more, the Denver Area Council has a program called Okpik that teaches a lot of winter camping skills including making quinzees (kind of like a snow cave).

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Matt,

I just completed my first year as an instructor at OKPIK for the Denver Area Council. My son did it with me and he has been a particpant of OKPIK four times. Weather has been mild here in Colorado this season. Never got below zero for the scouts doing OKPIK. Too bad for them. That's a bragging right. Snow pack has been a problem. On my weekend, we had barely had enough snow to build our snow shelters. I think this is the final weekend and I hope they have enough snow.

Great program though. Highly recommend it.

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GernBlansten, that's why we camp on the other side of the divide; more snow and colder. The cold is a challenge but the snow is fun.

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Well, I'd say that depends on your training and equipment. Most scouts have the general equipment to stay comfy down to 20 degrees, below that and you will need more than layers and and your Wal Mart bag. I'm in upstate New York, we Troop camped at a council event in October and the temperature went into the teens the first night. We all slept soundly. Thats about as low as we would go without some significant preparation and serious gear review. Its nice to know how to treat hypothermia and frostbite, but not to HAVE to treat them! I concur with the others, parents get to decide if the kids go, however, leaders have to decide if the Troop goes.

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As far as I know Okpik is a Camp Tahosa thing. I'm sure you could call up the Denver Area Council and start asking questions. Someone else might be doing something similar.

 

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I think there are 4 OKPIK programs. One out of NTiers in Ely,MN; one in Maine, one at Philmont and the one at Denver. We were told the Denver one is the only one that the scouts actually sleep in the shelters they build. I can't confirm that, but can confirm that the one in Denver, they are required to sleep in the shelter they build. It isn't optional.

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I would leave the "too cold" judgment up to the parent but I'd precede that with an explanation of what preparations are being or should be taken and why. Show the Scouts (and the parents) why various pieces of equipment or preparations ready them for the weather -- and to what degree. I think the coldest I've ever done in tents is -5 F and it WAS kind of miserable for many of the troop even though we'd prepared pretty well. The ground we were on was acting like some ungodly heat sink so I could feel the heat getting sucked out the soles of my feet even with thinsulated boots and double layers of woolen socks.

 

On the other hand, we all learned a bit that weekend and no one got hurt (although one Scout really had a miserable time of it as he messed himself inside his sleeping bag when he misjudged how long he could last before having to get out of the sleeping bag).

 

The Scouts and their families should be comfortable with the environment and their preparations to exist in it. It could end Scouting for him if you cajole him into going and it ends up being a miserable weekend. On the other hand, he's going to nag his parents about going next year if they hold him back and the rest of the troop comes back talking about how much fun they had.

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I have recently asked this question during a cold weather campout where the temps were 7*. I have two twelve year old scout who were attending. I had one of my boys call to come home the first night stating it was too cold for him. The Scout leaders have now had bad feeling toward my son and on the next campout when tornado warnings were issued and I decided to bring them home for a night, they have told me the one boy could no longer go camping with them. I thought camping was supposed to be a fun filled learning experience. I also have two Eagle scouts and during the time they were scouting I never had this issue. Has scouting changed this much during the last ten years? If so I will find other organizations for my children.

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There is little that is more miserable than camping in cold weather when you are not prepared for it.

 

You'll find that attitudes on these things vary by troop. Most of our guys don't mind camping in a passing thunderstorm. On the other hand, if there are going to be unrelenting storms for the last six hours of the trip, I think we'd all be fine with just packing up early.

 

I don't think Scouting has changed much at all in these areas, and certainly there is no national trend towards "hardening our boys up by teaching them to endure" - if anything, trends seem to be in the other direction.

 

Somehow there is not a match between your boys and/or you and the troop leadership - it sounds like you don't trust them, and they don't trust you. I'm guessing these are different leaders than the ones you dealt with 10 years ago. Maybe you should just find a troop that's a better match. What do your sons think? What reason did the leaders give?

 

As for the tornado warnings - I think it just depends. We just had some pretty devastating tornadoes here - national news and everything. But it doesn't look like being in a house was much protection. And the actual number of homes damaged is a tiny fraction of the number in the warning area. Did your area have an actual warning and not a watch? Warnings usually only last for about 30 minutes and then they are done. You can't really pack up for a warning; pretty much all you can do is seek shelter.

 

Who knows what another troop would do? It depends on a lot of variables. There are times when I've been happy to pack up, and there are other times when parents called up worried about the conditions and I knew the concerns were ridiculous. But I've never kicked a kid out because his parent pulled him for concern about the conditions.

 

I'm thinking something just got off on the wrong foot here. Just look around, ask around, and try again. I'm sure you can find a place you and your sons will be happier.

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Scouting hasn't changed alot in 10 years, but if you are not comfortable with this troop, you may want to look for a new one.

 

Now in reference to cold weather camping, your scout should have kept an eye on the weather forcast, and have been prepared for the cold weather. If that meant he would need additional blankets, clothes, etc, he should have had them with him. I do not know how long he has been with the troop, but they should have reinforced what the Handbook tells you about equipment and clothing to bring on trips. And we also say to keep an eye on the weather.

 

Now in reference to tornadoes, something that has hit very close to in-laws' home (try a block away this past weekend) was it a watch, meaning tornadoes were a possibility, or warning, meaning one was seen inthe area?

 

Now here's my opinion.

If it was a warning, leaving probably wasn't a good idea, as you need to seek shelter or a ditch as the case may be. A tornado was sighted, and you need to be in a safe place ASAP!

 

If it was a watch, it would depend upon what's going on and who I was with. Last week I kept a constant eye on the weather as my pack was camping and bad weather was predicted. We had plans made and Plan B made. A few hours before arrival at camp, I sent out an email going to Plan C, leaving at 12PM before the heavy stuff, with the possibility of tornadoes, would start in earnest. No probvlems.

 

But I know some scouts who stayed at a different camp, did keep an eye on the weather, and did have an emergancy plan in place should they come under a tornado warning. They didn't leave camp, but did take precautions.

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I agree, this troop may not be for my children. Unfortunately one wants to stay the other wants to leave but I feel if we stay this leader has already projected ill feelings toward one boy and I don't feel he is professional enough to keep his personal feelings aside and do what is beneficial for my child.

I have held positions in scouting for twenty plus years and have always made sure my boys and my scouts have been prepared for weather conditions. There are times when I have called off camping due to severe weather and then times when we stuck it out and let it pass. What ever the weather was I always had a back up plan. There was no such plan for this event and one leader was scrambling to find somewhere to take shelter from the severe weather. Thankfully the remaining boys found shelter in a local college gym.

Thanks for the impute and we will look for another troop else where.

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