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Engineer61

Winter Camp - SM Earns Kudos from Me

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Scout's winter camp was canceled. Because of the weather being too extreme.

 

Kudos to him for realizing the conditions that were developing and limitations of group being incompatible.

 

I might get some sleep now, the next time Scout goes out.

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Yah, it takes good judgment and some moral courage to make the "no go" call, eh?

 

I'm often not completely confident in a scout leader until I see that, his/her ability to say "no" to a lad and to a parent, and his/her ability to "step in" appropriately when noticing a situation that requires support or intervention.

 

Then yeh work with 'em on when not to step in, and how to build up da youth skills so that the youth can make the "no go" calls, say "no" to each other, and "step in" appropriately.

 

Beavah

 

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Yeah, it's cool when somebody will put their "wants to" aside and follow the "really ought to" and make sure the guys are safe!

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If this was a properly planned winter camping trip, short of a full blown blizard there should be no reason to cancel.

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"There is no such thing as bad weather... just poor clothing choices."

 

How extreme was the weather?

 

Why wasn't the Troop prepared?

 

On what did the SM base the decision to cancel?

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Camping trips can deal with some bad weather if tents are decent and leaders are skilled and paying attention.

 

 

When I've done Boy Scout snowshoe hikes, I generally take a tent with me. A tent allows you to end the exposure of people in cold, wet windy or snowy weather.

 

Put several chilled people in a tent and they start to warm each other up. After a while toss a bag of cookies in and a bit later usually usually start hearing boys laughing, playing or singing.

 

On camping trips you not only have tents you have the massive insulation of sleeping bags available too.

 

The things to look out for are people going off on their own, failing to eat, getting lethargic, not getting out of wet clothes and getting out of the weather and so on.

 

And dont be afraid to stop and camp early if need be. Pushing on when you should stop is often a mistake.

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Being unprepared for conditions either in equipment ($$$) or experience is a valid reason for cancellation. Knowing that and making the call takes leadership experience which is what we are here to develop.

 

In my experience, the first safety concern that cancels a winter trip is driving. Ice storms cause dangerous driving, down branches and trees. High winds can blow down trees and branches as well.

 

Avoid the fool who brags 'We go no matter the weather'.

 

My $0.02

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A few years back a number of troops in northern Wisconsin were on a Winter Survival training weekend. The temperature dropped to -43 degrees. The staff went out and asked that each troop come back in to the lodge. ALL troops refused. They were all bedded down for the night hunkered into their snow caves and didn't want any part of getting up and going out into the cold. :)

 

The next morning only one car in the parking lot started, but the boys have a lifetime of bragging rights as a result of their decisions.

 

These boys were properly trained and properly equipped and had a great time.

 

Your mileage may vary,

 

Stosh

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In one recent thread, a Scouter related his experiebce winter camping as a youth.

 

 

He was in his first effort at a snow cave, which was collapsing around him. At 2 AM his Senior Patrol Leader and Patrol Leader were making the rounds to see how Scouts were doing, and pulled those who were struggling out for hot chocolate and sorting out who needed help and encouragement.

 

Now THERE was a troop with effective boy leadership!

 

I also liked Remember Schiffs comment that ice coated highways might be a suitable reason for cancelling an outing. If you have checked and KNOW that drivers are properly equipped and experienced and READY for demanding winter driving ----fine.

 

But if they aren't, trying to push people into doing something they aren't ready to do is a mistake, in my opinion.

 

Same for Scouts.

 

 

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Yes, yes, yes, we all have to be careful and ensure we don't take the Troop into a dangerous situation - rafting on too high water, hiking into a hot and dry area w/o enough water, driving into an ice storm, taking an unprepared bunch of boys winter camping.

 

But, my experience with winter camping is that it is an incredible confidence builder for the prepared. We spend much of December & January working on what to wear, what to eat, how to sleep, and how to deal with cold weather first-aid issues. By the time we go camping in late January or early February, we have a bunch of prepared and eager boys who have a great time. Everyone is checked out by the adults & other Scouts before being allowed to go.

 

Scouts who have never been winter camping before are always a bit scared of cold weather camping, and are always delighted to discover that they can do it. To discover that they can stay warm and have fun is wonderful to watch - now they know how great camping in winter can be, and they're hooked!

 

My concern on the drift of this discussion is that the cancel can end up being the easy out and does nothing to build confidence... in fact quite the opposite. If a Troop schedules a winter camping trip, they need to take the time to ensure everyone in the Troop is well prepared and ready for the trip. If the trip is canceled because the Scouts are not ready, a valid question would be, why not?

 

I hope the OP can pull his chair back up to this campfire and let us know what the conditions were (or situation) that prompted the cancellation.

 

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Short of bad driving conditions, there should be little reason to cancel a winter outing for a prepared Troop. Plans may need to be modified, such as changing a long distance trek to a campout if very cold weather is expected, but generally the Troop should be prepared for anything like this.

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For those of you who live in areas that regularly have extreme temperatures and snow, I would expect that you would have the experience and be prepared for (as the OP put it) "weather being too extreme".

 

I don't know where the OP is located but as for my area (central NC) extreme cold and ice/snow are so rare that we don't have the equipment for it. So if we had a trip planned and were suddenly expecting "extreme" weather I can assure you that we would consider our limitations and cancel the trip. And it would not have anything to do with not being properly prepared but would be exercising basic good judgement since we don't have equipment or experience for extremes.

 

There is "building confidence" and there is also over confidence. Safety always comes first. That is our job as leaders. For those of you who think weather is no reason to cancel a trip, where is the line that you wont cross? In different areas of the country we have different measuring sticks for "extreme" and "preparedness". What is extreme for me may be a walk in the park where you live but my leaders, Scouts, and equipment might not be prepared for your extremes and pressing on for the sake of "character building" would be foolish for my Troop.

 

I think giving any leader a hard time for using basic good judgement and canceling an outing because he knows his Scouts are not prepared for it is an example of the kind of thinking that gets Scouts (and or their leaders) hurt or killed. Another important part of being a Scout is using good judgement and for our Scouts to learn it Leaders must be an example of it.

 

 

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I agree with Speedy's DAD 100% - any leader needs to access how well prepared his people are before going into a potentially dangerous situation. This is a critical part of leadership training Scouting provides. It's important to have the Scouts part of any decision making that involves the cancellation of any activity.

 

Training for a winter camping trip provides a Scout with skills for dealing with any cold weather he may come across later in his life. Almost no matter where he may find himself in this fine country, an extreme winter storm is possible. By understanding and experiencing winter camping, he will have a much better idea of how to deal with cold than someone who has never been out for a night in the winter.

 

Yes, they may get cold on a winter camping trip, and thereby personally understand that two pair of cotton socks really does not equal a pair of wool socks. Or that jeans really can be miserable to wear in cold and damp weather. We can tell the Scouts all kinds of things, but until they're out and experiencing things for themselves, they really do not fully understand.

 

To me this is one of the best things about Scouting - to gain those life-long skills with small failures that can build a foundation to avoid a catastrophic failure later in life.

 

And here's where my concerns on canceling comes in... do we cancel because we're afraid they might get cold? Or that they might be seriously injured or even die? In the latter case, of course we cancel. But the gray area of the "overly cautious to avoid the uncomfortable" sends the wrong message and misses serious real-life learning opportunities.

 

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