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below freezing/ polar camping patch

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We just made up our own Troop Polar Bear Patch. Looks pretty cool. Since we are from Florida there is a lot of pain and suffering involved when it is below freezing and we have a hodge podge of gear.


Agree there is a lot of good surplus gear out there. The European armies are dumping a lot of stuff out there as they downsize. Had good luck with Swedish, Swiss, Austrian gear. I call it "the not quite NATO-compatible collection".

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Our pack put our unit name on one of the customizable patches from the BSA. It looked pretty good and wasn't too hard or too expensive. Boys were proud of earning them. They were earned for any trip where the temperature got under 32 at any point. That was just right for us.


The troop doesn't currently have anything equivalent. Below freezing is too easy for a Boy Scout - and below zero is something that is really hard for us to ever find - we've only had one trip like that in our history.

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Basementdweller wrote: "These are urban kids that don't have a proper winter coat, hat and glove let alone wool pants. "




Back when I "served time in exile from Maine" (graduate school) down in Lubbock, Texas, there was a troop in town sponsored by the local air force base (Reese--no longer there). The youth with the backing of the leadership wanted to give winter camping a try. They recruited me from another unit for the trip, 'cause they knew I was a "damn yankee", so it must be old school to me.


Nope. I grew up in a unit with leaders whose idea of winter camping was a cabin with a wood stove. I had been trained in it, but never got to try it out. I was game, though.


No wool pants? No problem. Trip to Goodwill, got a bunch of dress wool slacks--hemmed to proper length for the boys. If the pants were a bit large around the waist, no problem, add suspenders.


Long underwear--not too expensive at the time. Knit/wool hats, were not that hard to come by, even in West Texas, where they do have "winter" compared to the rest of the state.


As for gear, the Reese unit leaders contacted their counterparts at Clovis, NM to borrow equipment for the weekend including snowshoes, cross-country skis, "Mickey Mouse" boots, winter sleeping bags, etc. From there we headed to Camp Tres Ritos, one of South Plains Council's two scout camps. TR is located at an elevation of roughly 9,000ft 20 miles east of Taos.


There was 6 ft of snow on the ground when we arrived. There was a bit of a learning curve on how to use snowshoes among them city slickers, but within 30 minutes they got the hang of it. Due to how late we had arrived (it's 6 to 7 hours drive from Lubbock to TR), we camped out in the one building at the camp, which also had a fireplace for that first night.


Following day, we showed scouts how to build snow shelters. Those that weren't interested in building shelters put up tents. Extra blankets below the bags for extra insulation from the ground. Extra blankets for those who wanted'em to go with the air force-loaned winter bags.


Overall, all the scouts/leaders had a blast. No one froze, but everyone's self-confidence improved greatly. Oh, and they made a special patch for those who attended.


But that's enough rambling. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that if the scouts want to do it, there are ways to secure the equipment if you/they don't have it. Just need to ask around.

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