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Winter Camp - SM Earns Kudos from Me

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Yah, I think Speedy makes a good point, eh?


Up here in da Great White Blizzard-Covered North, all the kids and families have a pretty good supply of cold-weather clothing, eh? Yep, yeh need to check it out and make some changes/additions and such, but yeh can count on 80-90% of the gear being provided by the families and being winter-sound.


If yeh live in da middle to southern regions of the country, that may not be da case, eh? Most of the families probably don't have the gear to go campin' in the snow, and most kids aren't used to the cold through 12 years of recess and snowball fights and shovelin' their driveway. I remember readin' once that in Army winter training, the incidence of hypothermia and frostbite is four times higher for soldiers from da south than those from the north. Same gear, eh? Just that us northerners know all da little tricks to deal with the weather.


That puts a much bigger gear and trainin' burden on a troop from da lower latitudes. While it would be extremely rare for a troop up in these parts to ever cancel a winter campout (hey, our cars and drivers are prepared for it too, eh!), I could see discretion bein' the better part of valor in other areas.




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Speedy, Didn't know you were in Occoneechee. You gotta got to Camp Charles, in Bailey, NC about 15-20 minutes down the road from ya on US 264.




The decision to go/no go needs to rest with the PLC and ultimately the SM. IMHO factors to cancel or modify a trip should include the following off the top of my head:


Road conditions to and from

Preparedness of the scouts for the weather

Weather emergencies, i.e. tornados, flooding, hurricanes, etc


Medical emergencies


I do not know why the SM cancelled. If it was b/c he didn't feel that the troop was prepared, or oneof the reasons above, then I'll back him up 100%


If he just thought that the weather was too cold and didn't want to deal with it, then I think he is wrong.


BUT without more details we really cannot judge.


I'll give you my perspective from personal expereince and one unit's expereince.


I went camping through a hurricane. yep you heard me I camped out in a hurricane. I was going through BA22, in the wilderness survival portion of the course on the second to last nite. We had no idea what was going on until the troop guides came in and told us to maek sure our shelters were secure and waterproof as the outerbands of a hurricane were goign to hit us that nite, and the next. That was the only time the entire patrol actually worked together as a patrol. We survived it.


BUT were were also prepared for almost anything having been given a list of equipment that we had to bring, and additional items that might want to be bring. We had the KSAs as well as the supplies to make that shelter and stay relatively dry.


Now two troops were doing their survival campout in December at the Bridgestone-Firestone Wildlife Habitat area in Wilson, NC( about 35-40 minutes from ya Speedy). Most of the scouts were prepared for a drop in the temperatures and some rain. But when the temps dropped lower than expected, and about 1 foot of snow landed on the ground, the SMs decided move the scouts from their survival shelters to one of the permanent shelters that had drop down sides b/c only 1 or 2 of the scouts had the gear for the lower temps. Good call if ya ask me.

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Yeah, Eagle92, my troop has been to Camp Charles a few times and we are having our Bridging Ceremony there the weekend of the 19th of March. We are Bridging up about 14 Scouts from our pack. We do like Camp Charles. Our troop likes the variety.


A major factor for us would be the age and experience level of our Scouts. Right now we have about 90 percent new Scouts. They have not had much experience camping period, much less camping in extremes. And given the rarity of extreme cold and large amounts of snow it is not likely that they will ever get much experience around here. Now that is not to say we wont camp in the snow, we did camp in the snow (about 1 - 2 inches) once last year, (you should have seen the boys faces when they woke up to find their tents covered in snow) but we most likely would cancel in the event of one of those below zero weekends or 22 inch snow storms like we got back in 2000.


Those of you up north give us a hard time about being paralyzed by a 1 inch snow event but down here we don't, generally, have the equipment to clear the roads and the snow driving experience like you do up North and out West, so we largely stay home, and those that don't, inevitably get into trouble. (Note: I use the term "we" loosely, it takes more that a couple of inches to slow me down)


I am just ending my first year as an ASM, but it is my hope that the experiences of camping that our Scouts receive will whet their appetite for camping in other parts of our Great Country. And will encourage them to someday experience the thrill of 8 foot snow drifts and -40 degree temperatures, but it would be foolish of me to think that the experiences they receive around here will fully prepare them for those extremes. It just isn't possible for them to become fully prepared for that around here.


You know, that brings to mind the fact that that is one of the great things about this forum, I get to hear about others experiences across this Country in a manner that I can relate to from a Scouting perspective. And I get to live those experiences through others stories of their experiences. ........Ain't it grand.

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I really hate to let this discussion fade into the sunset without some additional info from E61 as to why the winter camping trip was canceled. I guess this is high on my priority list as I've been working on three Boy Scout cold weather camping trips and one for my daughter's Girl Scout Troop. Winter camping trips do require a heightened awareness as to conditions and participant readiness. So, E61, if you could be persuaded to pull yourself back to this campfire and toss on another log, I for one would appreciate it. This is not to judge you or your Troop, but to help me (and all the folks watching at home) better understand what may prompt a Troop to cancel a winter camping trip.

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"I really hate to let this discussion fade into the sunset without some additional info from E61 as to why the winter camping trip was canceled."


Sorry for the delay ... new job has me hopping and my spare time is buried in coaching Baseball this time of year...


The trip was postponed until this week...and just postponed again till next week...for a variety of reasons.


1) Severe weather (expecting 8-16" of new snow and rain/snow mix on an existing base) will close most or all routes to/from the campsite...this includes both Interstate and State Routes. Blowing and drifting to near-whiteout conditions. Routes will be closed even to 4WD or chained vehicles. It is 130 miles to the campsite through numerous elevation changes.


2) Campsite is windward to a significant mountain range which would increase snowfall by 4-8".


3) A large ratio of 1st year Scouts. 16 of 24 I think...most of remainder are 2nd year and a minimal adult crew (SM and 3-4 ASM's).


Personally, I wouldn't attempt to drive through that for business, so I certainly would consider it for a leisure activity.



=== Added ===


I noticed a comment about camping in -40 degrees.... I've been in -27 with -80 windchill (Ohio Blizzard of '78)... not something I'd ever consider intentionally camping in. One of the big reasons I live in Arizona now.

(This message has been edited by Engineer61)

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Lower drive the time, increase the probability of sticking out the blizzard. It's an issue I talk through with the youth months before we plan a trip. Not only for safety in transit, but for time required to get rescued should the need arise.


I've endured a lot of nail-biters on the drive back from "snow belts".


Of course if it was only two miles without snow-tires, I would reconsider hauling kids in winter. (There were years when I wasn't that clever.)

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I have a big issue with the general comments about being no reason to not take a well-prepared troop winter camping. I hope smug comments like that boosted your epeen but the reality is that we have a wide variety of troops and the experience level within the troop can vary over time.


A good SM knows his or her boys and their capabilities. There is a big difference between taking them into general winter camping with snow shelters and such versus a full out winter storm with high winds or icy rain. I think Engineer61 got it right -- the SM deserves kudos for realizing the Scouts' abilities and the developing conditions were incompatible and making a difficult last minute call.

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