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beaglelover

Give me your Cold & Wet camping tips

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Got a camping event coming up soon, and if the forecast holds, it is going to be both wet and cold (40's at night).  It is far enough out meteorologists are pretty much guessing at this point, but just in case, we want to put some tips together for our cubs/parents.  For a few, this will be their first experience with camping, and we want them to not hate it.  We have the usual stuff (bring tarps & trash bags, stay away from cotton, stay away air mats, etc.) but are looking for anything / tips / tricks to help keep these boys warm, dry, and entertained.

 

TIA

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Good luck with that.  I've been camping for over 60 years and what you are expecting is something I have never come across.  I took my Web II's on a big outing on a primitive island adventure.  Thunderstorm rolled through and basically flattened the camp.  White caps on the lake made canoeing 100 yards back to mainland impossible.  After the storm passed we threw a dry plastic ground cloth over all their wet sleeping bags, dug out dry clothing (everything they owned in their packs) and put them back to bed.  They talked about it for years as the best camping they ever had.  The name of the game is stay positive no matter how bad it gets. 

 

Go with back-up wool blankets....soaking wet they will still keep you warm.  They do not lose their insulating properties when wet. 

 

Safety is your own concern!  Having fun will just follow along!

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Large hot hands packets. Check folks often for hypothermia. Young kids and staying dry don't go together.

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Pack ALL clothing in Ziploc bags inside their pack/bag.  I like to put a complete days set of clothes (undies, t-shirts, socks, pants, shirt) all in one Ziploc bag.  Put on clean clothes, put dirty back into Ziploc.  No cross contamination between clean and dry vs dirty and wet.  Plan on getting wet and pack at least one extra complete outfit.  Everyone needs a hat.  Helps keep rain off you and holds in body heat.  Synthetics dry quicker but still are wet.  Avoid cotton and bring all synthetics if possible.  All clothing from the skin out.  

 

$1 disposable ponchos are useless.  Get real rain jackets.  Change into dry clothes just prior to getting in sleeping bag.  

 

Dont set up tent in low areas.  First year scouts arrived to camp site after sunset.  Set up tent in only flat spot at bottom of hill.  That is where all the silt washing down the hill collected.  Rained that night. River ran thru their tent.  They still talk about that weekend years later.  You dont remember the good weather, your remember the challenges. 

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Staying dry is very important. So put on dry clothes before you go to bed. Bring lots of extra clothes, hats, socks, shoes. Once they get wet they won't dry. The places you lose heat the fastest are the head, neck, hands, and feet. So make sure everyone has a hat, some gloves, and boots. Tennis shoes would be bad all day in rain. I'm not sure what your daytime temps are but 50 degrees all day in a wet climate will start sapping energy from cubs. Bring extra stuff that others can borrow. Consider having a gear check.

 

A positive mental attitude can be encouraged with fun things to do. Have a good program. With cub scouts you may need a lot of activities but if they start having fun on their own then let them go with it.

 

Food is a fun thing to do. Make sure the food is something everyone enjoys. Meals are a wonderful time to be happy and feel good. This is no time for picky eaters. Hot chocolate is yummy.

 

Fires are also a good mental motivation. No, you don't want people sitting around them all day but once it starts getting dark, and cold, and wet, a fire is a good thing. Make it even better with a good campfire program. Board games or something they can play in their tents. Not sure if you have a cabin available. My scouts always have cards to play.

 

Figure out at what point you call it and save it for another day. Know your limit. Given this is the first campout for many scouts/parents, don't be macho.

 

Hope that helps.

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I concur with the stuff above but would add a couple of things.

 

1. Keep a dry set of clothes for sleeping in that never come out the sleeping bag. What that can for moral is extraordinary!

 

2. Where ever you are try and keep a fire going as much as possible. Again the effect on moral is huge.

 

3. In advance I have actually had my scouts practice doing something very simple, how to get into a tent wearing wet clothes without getting everything wet inside. Ie. open tent door. Turn your back on it. Then sit down while simultaneously dropping your over trousers. ie dry trousers whens sitting on ground sheet. Take off coat and put in plastic bag. Take off boots. Take off over trousers and put in plastic bag. 

 

It sounds like such a daft thing to have kids practicing but if they can get things like that right it makes for a much more comfortable trip.

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Emphasize good rain coats and good foot gear.  Bring extra of both.  Dress warmer than usual, extra layers, heavier jackets --- most people do not realize what it means to be outside for an extended period without the ability to go somewhere warm.

 

I'm a little concerned by what you mean when you "stay away air mats," everybody MUST have a pad between the ground and their sleeping bag, air mattresses work fine for this, if you try to sleep directly on the ground you will be cold.

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Candy. While the environment will steal heat, and dry clothes will help slow heat loss (wet clothes will exascerbate heat loss), clothing, sleepings etc... do not generate heat. The only way to do that is vie calories and sugar is rocket fuel. Candy will be an easy way for boys to stoke the furnace.

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Regarding "entertained", show Cubs how to start a fire when it is wet out. Most young kids assume it cannot be done.

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Regarding "entertained", show Cubs how to start a fire when it is wet out. Most young kids assume it cannot be done.

Last day of Son #2's cub resident camp (I think his first year). Very wet day. The boys dashed from the last afternoon activity to camp and set up a perfect teepee lay from carefully found/sequestered dry twigs. They asked if they could light it. (Camp rule said no cubs with matches ... for the usual reasons.) Some parents looked askance as I said, "He who stacks the kindling has rights to strike the first match."

 

The light in their eyes was priceless. Their fire was pretty bright too!

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There's wet, and then there's wet. Much will depend on how hard and continuous the rains are. But here's some suggestions.

 

1. If you can get a fire going and keep it going (at least more or less), there is no substitute for that. This, of course, is at the mercy of the rain. But periodic, brief showers should be doable, especially if you can keep a stash of dry wood somewhere.

 

2. Put up a large tarp or fly, or move into a pavilion or some other shelter where people can congregate. These kinds of conditions are much easier to bear if you have someone to share some fellowship with. Also, you can keep your stash of firewood dry. This would also facilitate organizing appropriate activities for the youth.

 

3. Cubs, you say? Let the boys know they will have bragging rights because they were at the "Great Ordeal of 2017" or whatever. You might even try to find a generic patch of some kind to give them to commemorate it.

 

4. There is also no substitute for hot food and drink in those conditions. Lots of coffee and tea for the adults, hot chocolate for the boys. Maybe some instant soup for variety. And keep it available continuously throughout the day. For everything but the coffee, I would just have plenty of hot water available for people to use to fix whatever they like.

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Emphasize good rain coats and good foot gear.  Bring extra of both.  Dress warmer than usual, extra layers, heavier jackets --- most people do not realize what it means to be outside for an extended period without the ability to go somewhere warm.

 

I'm a little concerned by what you mean when you "stay away air mats," everybody MUST have a pad between the ground and their sleeping bag, air mattresses work fine for this, if you try to sleep directly on the ground you will be cold.

I think what he means by "stay away air mats" is stay away from cheap, uninsulated air mattresses. A cheap air mattress, with no insulation in it, will let the heat from your body escape out the sides via convection and it will be no warmer than sleeping on the ground. What is needed is something that will keep the air from moving within the pad. Closed cell foam or an air mattress with insulation. I've had plenty of experience with sleeping on bad pads. For scouts, at the temps they're talking about, a fairly inexpensive closed cell foam pad will work fine.

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To Ankylus' point, If you hold it up and water runs out, it has no insulating value.  Water conducts heat well no matter what fabric is trapping it.

 

Wool will actually generate heat by exothermic reaction up to about 30% of its weight in water,  After that, it's just wet and takes forever to dry in the field.

 

Polyester fleece, batting and pile is hydrophobic.  The strands of fabric will not absorb any water (recycled pop bottle "plastic") so it drys rapidly.

 

I suggest a total change of clothing sealed in heavy plastic bags along with the sleeping bags.  If they can get in a dry sleeping bag under a tent, nothing too awful will happen.  Some spare sleeping bags would be prudent.  Extra dry socks in zip-loks  over and above all else.

 

Be sure the tents don't leak.  A plastic sheet inside helps back up the floor coating.  A "blue tarp" outside is insurance against any doubt about the fly.

 

Some think any jacket with a nylon outer layer is waterproof.  Strange, but I have run into that error many times.  They need actual rain gear.  Ponchos are least expensive, but the cheap plastic ones tend to magically develop holes.

 

Footwear that keeps out water is a must.  If waterproof boots are not available, the "sock sandwich" will do for a weekend: plastic bag over foot/then socks/then plastic bag.  Foot gets damp from perspiration, but socks stay dry to insulate.  Needs to be changed out a couple of times so extra plastic bags and socks required. Cold wet feet can result in "immersion foot" (AKA "trench foot"), qv.

 

If you suggest "foam pads," some may show up with open-cell foam,  AKA "sponges."  You need to specify closed-cell foam pads for those that will not bring self-inflating foam-filled air mattresses (e.g. Therm-a-rest).  Re-purposed closed-cell carpet padding will do the trick.  I have been scrounging it for years, avoiding the leavings "marked" by cats.

 

Hopefully, your site has a "picnic shelter" or you have a dinning fly large enough to gather for cook/eat/socialize if it's pouring.  The hot cup of something Ankylus mentions is all the better out of the rain.

 

Hot water bottles - the kind that does not leak - produces sleeping luxury in the midst of cold.

 

Towels to dry off feet before replacing foot layers.

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