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FireStone

Teaching basic overnight camp comfort - Suggestions?

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I've been asked to do a demo at a Pack meeting on how to stay comfortable overnight while camping. Tips and tricks for staying warm, being comfortable in the tent, etc. This is one of multiple "stations" at the Pack meeting, round-robin-style and I'll be working with small groups of 5-10 scouts at a time, mixed ranks/

I've done it before and gone through the usual basics, best-practices with a tent to stay dry, how to stay warm, and little tips like bring a pair of slip-on shoes/slippers for those middle-of-the-night bathroom trips so you don't have to lace up boots.

My problem is that this is all very "Let me explain this to you" in format, and Scouts get antsy and lose interest. How can I make it more interactive or fun?

Another Scouter suggested making it into a game somehow, but I'm at a loss for what kind of game you can make out of learning how to stay warm in your tent.

Any ideas?

Edited by FireStone

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We do cold weather layering training by having one scout put on very oversized clothing in the wrong order and then have the other scouts have to tell him to transfer the clothing in proper order: (wicking, insulating, shell) to another scout.  I use the most outlandish but still appropriate clothing I can find (I have a pair of neon purple ski pants from the 80s that I keep just for this purpose).  Remember to include gloves/mittens and glove liners,  hats and hoods, and insulated boots to show that the same layering technique works for every part of your clothing..  

We use the same training to explain that the tent,  sleeping bag, pad, and what you wear are also the same layering system: you wear wicking long underwear as the wicking layer, your sleeping bag and pad are the insulating, and the tent is the shell.

If you want to include the tent and sleeping in the hands on-portion, start with the ridiculously dressed scout outside the tent under his bag.

ETA: We also include in the initial dress things you shouldn't wear in the winter like cotton jeans and cotton socks, so the scouts also have to identify what articles to discard entirely.

Edited by T2Eagle
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Staying warm in the tent....Hmmm.  Not sure I have a "game" in mind, but I love being out in the snow on a beautiful winter day, and so I do have a few tips:

*  Remember to dress in layers when going out:  wicking base layer, breathable insulation layer, waterproof/windproof outer shell
but in the tent, remember that wicking is still important if you're too hot/sweating, and you really want adequate insulation (fleece and down feel warmest)

* Pull clothes, hat, jacket into the sleeping bag a half hour or so before you get dressed and it won't feel like such a cold shock

* Pack some of those Hot Pack hand warmers, they're good in a pinch if your gloves and/or clothing choices aren't serving you well

* Hats On!  Remember that much of your body heat loss happens through your head. Hats are important --- even while sleeping. Maybe especially when sleeping since nights are colder than days

* Eat more fat. Your body's furnace needs fuel. 

* Carry spare socks and spare gloves and a spare hat:  wetness is the enemy as much as the cold

 

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33 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

* Pack some of those Hot Pack hand warmers, they're good in a pinch if your gloves and/or clothing choices aren't serving you well

 

 

Personally, I hate seeing these on camp-outs and tell the parents not to even buy them for the scouts.  Invariably what happens with these is the kids use them for short term comfortable hands rather than actually dressing appropriately for the weather.  They don't put them inside gloves or shoes or pockets, they just sit there or walk around holding them and refusing to do anything else because "my hands are cold so I have to keep holding these little packs".  And so of course after 30-45 minutes when they are no longer warm enough to keep hands warm outside of an enclosed space, they open a new package, or start whining about being cold again.

Personally, if I ever see a scout walking around holding those things, I go find a PL or the SPL and recommend that scout for any laborious activities that need doing since some hard work will warm them up.

I don't mind nearly as much the to warmer sort that you actually stick on the inside of your boots.

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48 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

Remember to include gloves/mittens and glove liners,  hats and hoods, and insulated boots to show that the same layering technique works for every part of your clothing..  

I doubt any of my scouts own those items here in chilly, chilly, Florida.😀

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40 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Pack some of those Hot Pack hand warmers, they're good in a pinch if your gloves and/or clothing choices aren't serving you well

These I have seen some of them carry.  To some of them, anything below 70 is like an arctic expedition.

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Some things I did with Brownie Girl Scouts, grade 3:

Have lots of little squares of fabric (denim from old jeans,  pieces of cotton t-shirt, polartec fleece,  woven nylon,  wool . . . you get the idea, some stuff that is good for camping and some stuff that is bad).   Near the beginning of the meeting have scouts dip them in bowls of water, wring them out, and hang them up to dry.  At the end of the meeting see which ones are still soggy and which feel almost dry.

Have a pile of lots of shoes:  hiking boots, cowboy boots, snow/slush boots, flip flops, crocs, sandals,  party shoes, etc.   Have the scouts sort out which ones would be appropriate to wear and which ones would not be appropriate.

Depending on numbers of kids, you might rotate them through stations.

 

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1 hour ago, MikeS72 said:

To some of them, anything below 70 is like an arctic expedition.

Ahhh the vagaries of human perception.

Once upon a time, this Scouter in his pre Scouter time, was a freshman  Marching Band member in Purdue University . In 19 and 66, Purdue had the privilege of attending the Rose Bowl football classic by dint of Ohio State having come in 1st in the Big Ten for the second year in a row, so the second place Boilermakers got the invite.  Long story short, The Marching Band had a World Class half timeshow to plan and provide. So we did. 

After visiting home(s) for Christmas, we gathered in the Chicago Train Station to board  the last of the UP Super Chiefs ( a chartered train !) , we left Chicago the 26th of December with 2 feet of snow on the ground (at least!) and 15 degrees F. Pretty normal, we thought, for Chicago in December.  We arrived in California, set up camp in the USC dorms, and fell out to the field to practice our tunes . We wore t-shirts and shorts, and were  surprised to see our audience wearing heavy coats, gloves and scarves.  They were experiencing a "cold snap" according to the radio.  60 degrees.   A cold snap.  Ah  me.

 

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Memories

  • Good set of sun glasses.  Blocks the wind.  Blocks the snow glare.  Looks cool.  ;) 
  • My first winter camping experience I remember well. 
    • Our guides would ask the scouts if they were cold.  If any said yes, we went on a 4/5 mile hike.  Long hikes in winter boots is tiring.  Very, very quickly the scouts learned to say NO to being cold. 
    • We went to sleep with the sun.  I swear it was 5pm / 5:30pm and we were going to bed.  We were very tired and worn out and slept until sun up in the morning.  It was either keep moving or go to sleep.  
    • Fires for cooking.  Not for keeping warm.
    • The scouts all spelunked in their sleeping bags.  Diving deep to avoid any cold.  ... not smart ... breathing creates humidity = wet = cold
  • My last winter camping ... -23 F.  ... Very manageable ... I'm just too old for that now.  ... Thank goodness for a really good sleeping bag.  

Suggestions 

  • Any outdoor game that helps demonstrate keeping warm.  I remember using ropes once and playing human foosball.  
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A few things not mentioned: put on dry clothes, including long johns, before going to bed (what you wore during the day is already damp),  don't wear too much in your bag - it's better to layer on the outside of the bag with a blanket or a second opened bag, wear a hat to bad, eat lots of fat and protein before bed (no sugar).

 

For fun I've seen scouts do a relay race with putting on layers of clothing.

Edited by MattR

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Pull your arms out of the sleeves of a sweater or fleece jacket when in your sleeping bag.  Just wear it around your neck.  It acts as a nice baffle to keep warm air in and cold drafts out.

Hammock sleepers will need two 1 foot square pieces of mini-cell foam to pad their shoulders.  Your shoulders will flatten the insulation of your sleeping bag and sleeping pad, there will be a thin spot where your shoulders poke through, and your shoulders will freeze.  The two pieces of foam make a nice camp seat.

I always make a bundle out of the clothes that I'm wearing tomorrow and use them as a pillow under my knees.  That keeps the clothes from freezing and aligns my back for a more comfortable night's rest.

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At one camping themes pack meeting I included a station that includes sleeping bags with backpacker style sleeping mat along side a car camping style air mattress so the kids could try them out and see the difference. They had to answer two questions: 1) Which is more comfortable? 2) Which one would you want to carry for a long distance?

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