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Double Eagle

What is too bad of weather to camp in?

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A thread from a discussion about a troop camping once in three months brought up an interesting subject. What is too bad of weather to camp? We had an overnight klondike derby in Upstate New York with the temperature at -30f (we slept out in tents without heaters). We also camped in the upper 90s with 90+% humidity. I have yet to stop a camping trip due to weather. The only time I can think of not camping due to weather is around lightning, tornados, hurricane, flood, or not having the right equipment or planning to match the weather. When do you consider the weather too bad to camp?

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Here in Georgia most peopel don't have equipment for extremely cold weather camping or snow camping. Last year it got down to the around 25 one night on a campout. Luckily we were dry. Any lower than that and I think we should not camp -- because we don't have the right clothing, tents or sleeping bags.

 

I've seen Cub Scout camping cancelled because of weather forecasts that never came true.

 

Severe lightening, tornados, hurricane flooding, snowing -- things to cancel for.

 

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The upper 90's with 90+ humidity is standard here. No big deal and nothing the stay indoors over.

 

Now -30 would be a problem for us but that's only if we didn't know it was coming.

 

For our troop you named the only conditions to not camp: close lightning, tornados, hurricane, flood, or not having the right equipment or planning to match the weather.

 

That being said, last March our high adventure backpacking trip had us backpacking through that 100 year rainfall in North Carolina and East Tn. on the hike the year before an unexpected blizzard struck and when I was a scout at the '85 National Jamboree we were hit by an arm of a hurricane. Each time we were prepared or were experienced enought to overcome equipment shortfalls.

 

The bottom line is that it depends on wether you think and feel that your boys and adults are prepared and if you ever get that "wrong" feeling you need to bug out and fast. Never second guess bad vibes. Sounds all spooky and goofy I know but it is true.

 

There is no such thing as bad weather only bad gear choices and lack of preparation.

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Just to summarize what others have said...

 

Any weather condition that the troop is ill prepared to handle in a safe manner. Proper preparation should include proper clothing, proper equipment, proper training, and proper expertise.

 

Snow, by itself, is not necessarily a reason to cancel unless it's a blizzard. Even then, one needs to consider whether or not it would be wiser to wait for it to pass. On the other hand, if you're dressed for warm weather, canceling for one inch of snow may well be the wisest thing to do. In other words, with exception to the most obvious hazardous conditions (lightning, blizzard, flood, tornado, etc.), it hinges on whether or not the troop is properly prepared.(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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Be prepared. Snow??? Is that the white stuff that hits here maybe once a year and shuts everything down? But as we say...if it ain't raining you ain't training. Summer camp....two weeks ago...raining as it only can in this part of Virginia...troop campfire night...boys put on their ponchos and told ghost stories around a roaring fire in the pouring rain...couldn't have pulled them away from that with a team of Clydesdales.

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I expect most folks include weather check as part of their precamp planning, which helps reduce some of the weather surprises. As a former girl scout and current scouter, I've camped in Florida and Alaska, Death Valley and the Alps. I can only think of one surprise incident that caused us to decamp - three inches of water in our tent. Even then we might have stayed except the sleeping bags were soaked (I do like to sleep in comfort). Extreme hazard is the only reason not to camp in my opinion.

 

As an aside: I always liked the council name for BSA in Europe. Never accepted the GSUSA equivalent. Must have been a man that named us the North Atlantic Girls Scouts! (check the anagram)

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Thanks for the posts. After reading them, I got to thinking about what the youth members would consider too bad of weather. We "Grumps" (short for grown ups or how we are without coffee or sleep)seem to be able to handle it.

My take from the post is that if you do the planning and are equiped, no problem. minus the 6 o'clock news kind of weather.

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Rooster had a good summary for when to cancel or not. The problem I have is when the majority of boys are well prepared but some are not. At this years summer camp, one boy did not bring any bug spray (northern lower Michigan). His answer, I'll just use someone else's. My response, no you will not (at least mine). He didn't want to buy any at the trading post. After being eaten up for two days, he finally realized that maybe instead of the candy he was buying, some bug spray may be a wiser investment. Alas, the trading post ran out of spray to buy, it was on order, so only then did I allow him to use my spray. On a camping trip in April we got a light snow, weather in the upper 20's, etc. and one boy showed up without ANY sleeping bag!! I made a trip home and got one for him (60 mile round trip).

 

And yes, we repeatedly go over what to bring, what not to bring, expected weather conditions, etc. Luckily, one of these experiences teaches life lessons very well.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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acco40, I probably know your area pretty well. I think you don't have to deal mosquitos. Mostly "little black flies", real biters. The painful thing I learned is have a shake-down of what they have packed. Our troop meets on Thurdays and the night before a campout, we have them bring in their stuff and we lock it up overnight. They take a list home of what they need. Come Friday, they bring back the list and stuff. Thanks for carbon paper. We have our list in case the scout lost his. This seems lengthly but goes pretty quick. We do a lot of backpacking and they learn to really consider what to take. The good thing is they learn what to bring because they carry it. A shake-down rule at Philmont is for every piece of equipment carried to have two uses. Good rule when you look at your own stuff.

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Mosquitos (mosquitoes?) can be really bad in central Michigan. Lots of stagnant water, etc. And as residents of Canada & Alaska know, the cold weather does not eradicate the pesky bugs. The inside joke at camps and else where is that the mosquito is the OTHER state bird of Michigan.

 

I know that your system reduces the number of missed items that are not brought to camp. However, it buts more burden on the leaders and less responsibility on the boys. That is a delicate trade-off. For my own son (11 yr old Star), I specifically DO NOT EVER check what he brings or not. So far my only disappointment (not his mind you) is when he only brought four pair of clean underwear for seven days of summer camp. Other than that, he always is the one to bring the personal first aid kit, role of TP, 50 ft of nylon cord, small wad of dryer lint and flint, etc. I'm lucky that he takes scouting so seriously.

 

For my younger son, a 10 year old Webelos Cub Scout, I do go over what to bring and what not to bring in detail before departure for our Webelos summer camp (five days, four nights). This is not only because of his younger age and experience but his personality is much different than his older brother. He'd go with the clothes on his back and not much else. When he goes on his first camping trip as a boy scout, I'll probably make him go over what he is bringing and make sure the camping check list is understood. After that, he will be on his own. The experience of going without is a wonderful teacher. The school of hard knocks has many graduates and some I'm sorry to say, even go to graduate school there!

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acco40: The boy leadership does the shake-down. We,the leaders, fall in with them and do ours with them. I know, someone will still not have something.

Ok you must be south of the Grayling, Roscommon, Mio area. They have the black flys. After scouting in the "Thumb area" I sympothize about your "other state bird". I've heard that if you put a harness on the skeeters, you can have them fly your gear where you want it. Caution: Failure to keep themn on a leash will result in your gear being lost.

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As a camper in the 70's, we once had a tornado / windstorm that picked up a platform tent and moved it about 20 feet, blew out all 4 beds and gave the girls in it a wild ride - but all ended up safe and got into shelter - and it now makes for a wild campfire story - the stuff memories are made of.

 

however, i wouldn't advocate PLANNING on camping in a tornado - hard to keep track of your stuff...

 

But other than severe weather - which NOBODY plans on - any weather is good camping if you are prepared. I particularly like winter camping - no mosquitoes!

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anybody else from Alabama laugh at the "upper 90's and 90% humidity" comment as bad weather?....been there done both those, try about 110 heat index, raining and "un-airconditiond" tents (I've never heard of one with and air-conditioner)...you get used to it...unless there is a tornado, flood, or other such natural happing we go.

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Couple of vignettes -

 

1)Our coucil's summer camp theme this year was "Real Men Don't Need AC". Thanks ArchWahl, been there too every year. :)

 

2)My father tells of his first winter campout when he was a Tenderfoot back in the late 30's. His family was too poor for camping equipment, so he put together what he could, improvised the rest, made a bedroll and off he went. His first lesson was bedrolls aren't warm enough for January nights in Indiana. Fortunately, those scouts who had good bags sandwiched the boys who didn't and kept them warm every night. (There were a lot of poor boys back then) It made a tremendous impact on my dad, and I believe has affected his life ever since.

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Our troop has camped, canoed, biked and hiked in a wide variety of weather, and coming from New England we experience it all. Of course, preparation is key and one of the great learning experiences in scouting.

 

There have been just a few situations that have caused us to cancel. The most recent was this spring when we had scheduled our first campout with the Webelos that has just crossed over into the troop. The morning we were to leave it was pouring out and the forecast was for it to continue the whole weekend with temps down to 35 deg. The troop committee and I made the decision to postpone the trip so that these new scouts would not have a miserable time for their first campout. Interesting that most parents thought it made sense, but a lot of the scouts were very disappointed and said we shouldn't have cancelled.

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