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SpEdScouter

Winter campouts and boredom... any ideas?

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One of the problems with doing winter campouts is that it gets dark by around 6 pm. The Scouts usually dont fall asleep until 9-10 so their really isnt much for them to do and they can get bored. Then it might be cold and windy. They can sit around a campfire but that takes alot of wood. This is when they want to haul out the electronics.

 

Any suggestions?

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Cards, dessert contest, skits, astronomy, night hike, backgammon, chess, etc. Never electronics.

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Plan trips close to the full moon. Around midnight the forest is bright, almost like day with moon light reflecting off snow. Ask boys how they could plan activities/meals/sleep around this phenomenon.

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Our boys typically start cooking at 5:00, eat by 6:00, clean up by 6:30 and have a fire going by 7.  The desserts are in the Dutch Oven and the Jiffy Pop comes out.  Then desserts and then marshmallows.  That is around 8:00.   Our guys don't do skits, but they can easily do 3 hours of banter around the fire.  Jokes, stories, etc.  Me, I just make a cup of coffee and hot coca and sit in my chair.  

 

As for the firewood, the boys typically collect it and cut it in the afternoon (if permitted) and have never had a problem running out.

 

Here's my suggestion, ask the boys ahead of time what they want to do and let them figure it out.

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Cards, dessert contest, skits, astronomy, night hike, backgammon, chess, etc. Never electronics.

Excellent suggestions Bad Wolf!

 

May I add:

"man hunt" (hide and go seek), Willow the wisp, finding your way without a compass, roses and thorns, planning for the next day, night time orienteering, other wide area games.

 

One of my fondest memories from my youth in scouting was the night time orienteering course we did.  Each patrol was  a group of Baden Powell's troops escaping the Zulu warriors (the venture patrol) and had to get back to base by following coordinates.  Each waypoint was a base where the Zulu's couldn't tag us.  We had to be sneaky and it was great fun.

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Capture the flag, various versions of flashlight tag, moonlight only hikes.  The woods are fascinating at night, send them out to roam.

 

As to cold and windy, the right equipment renders that moot.

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Don't forget the good old Kolndike derby! Fit in after-dinner challenges as well as afternoon challenges!

 

Regarding the wood ... we usually have one or two older kids for whom life is just better if they split a chord a day. So, we have an appropriately skilled and equipped adult take the chainsaw safety course and be prepared to help the ranger cut some dead-fall into rounds for splitting. Even in a busy year, rangers find us stuff to be cleared by mid-winter not far from our site/cabin.  All the boys spend an hour or less rolling the rounds to the axe yard, and the splitters happily spend another couple hours with the axe and adze.

 

By nightfall there's enough for a fire-break and even a few lounge chairs. :)

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Cards and games are always a good idea to have around. You never know when you are going to be hunkered down somewhere and need something for filler.

 

There are some glow in the dark or even LED illuminated Frisbee and other things like that. No reason you can't have improvised disc golf (just designate a tree as the target). If you happen to have a good, safe place to play night time games of ultimate Frisbee can be... interesting...

 

Night time land navigation is certainly a special challenge. Night hikes are also possible.

 

Winter often gets very clear skies, so stargazing or astronomy may be worth while. Bring a small telescope or at least some binoculars.

 

If you live in a part of the country where you can't really do real winter camping, but often face the risk of a cold rainy weekend, the sort that often gives scoutmasters second thoughts about going camping... perhaps have a back-up location that offers some form of shelter. While ideally we would be camping every month, at least have an outing, overnight, or activity of some form even if it isn't camping.

 

You can use up all sorts of time if you decide to actually cook something for cracker-barrel, maybe just deserts, but maybe something more.

 

Also, we seem to have lost the art of singing around a campfire. Really, we seem to be afraid to sing socially as a larger culture. Perhaps a winter night around the fire is the perfect time to introduce some old fashioned scouting songs. I have a pet theory about everyone listening to recorded music instead of participating in making music being part of the downfall of the present thing passing for civilization...

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Also, we seem to have lost the art of singing around a campfire. Really, we seem to be afraid to sing socially as a larger culture. Perhaps a winter night around the fire is the perfect time to introduce some old fashioned scouting songs. I have a pet theory about everyone listening to recorded music instead of participating in making music being part of the downfall of the present thing passing for civilization...

You have never herd me sing but I always have a harmonica cant play it but there always sees to be somebody who can

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One year my boys found a 30' piece of rope and jump roped for about 2 hours.  Who'da thunk.

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