I happen to be the proud mother of a Boy Scout and a Cadette Girl Scout. While both of the programs are similar in their goals, their approach is greatly different. My daughter’s Girl Scout troop would never think about winter camping; but those sturdy Boy Scouts spent a night this past week-end tent camping. Now for those of you who haven’t read my bio, we live in Nebraska and the temperature Saturday night was -9 degrees fahrenheit. Add to that, snowfall and you have what may be a disaster for many. Not these boys. Eleven boys and 3 adults braved the snow, the wind and the cold temperatures and came home on Sunday, saying they all had a great time. Why? Because they were prepared. While most of us will not be tent camping any time in freezing cold weather, there are things that can be learned by their experience.
First of all, know your weather conditions and anticipate the worst. It is better to have too much and be too warm in cold weather than to not have enough and be too cold. Layers is the key thing. Your clothing layers may be:
#1 A t-shirt, then a thermal shirt (preferably one that will wick away the moisture), a long sleeve shirt or sweater, then a vest and then your winter coat.
#2 Bottom layers would be a pair of wool socks (or socks that will wick away the moisture) a pair of cotton socks and then well insulated boots; Thermal underwear (wicking), a pair of jeans and then snow/ski pants.
#3 You need a good pair of gloves or mittens. (While mittens may not be the favorite, they will keep your hands warmer) Under your gloves/mittens, you can wear liners that would help in the insulation process. Make sure you have a hat, a scarf or neck gator.
This may seem a lot, but it will keep you warm in the cold, cold weather. If you get too hot, you can peel off a layer. This will get you through the day.
If sleeping in a tent in the cold weather, it can be very simple in keeping warm…layers. After clearing away a spot and setting up your tent, lay a tarp down to protect your sleeping bag from moisture (your body temp could melt the snow beneath the sleeping bag). Next lay down a pad as a barrier between the tarp and your sleeping bag. This will help as an insulator from the snow. You either need to have a great winter sleeping bag or you can stuff a quilt or another sleeping bag in your main sleeping bag.
When getting ready for bed, do not, DO NOT, sleep in the clothes that you wore during the day. Take those clothes off and put on clean clothes and socks. Clean clothes will help keep you warmer. If you want, you can heat up some water and put the hot water in your water bottle and put it in your sleeping bag to help warm it up. You need to put your water bottle in your sleeping bag if the temp is going to drop below freezing. That way you will have water that is drinkable in the morning and not frozen.
The last bit of advice is to make sure that when you are warming up by the fire, drying your clothes or boots by the fire, that you do not get too close. My son has ruined boots by melting them and one camper this week-end burned his snow pants. Being too close to the fire can put a huge damper on a great week-end.
While I could not camp, I am not opposed to trying out winter camping. I feel that I have enough background to survive and actually have fun. The only thing that may make the camping a little more enjoyable is alittlecaffeine!
As I was heading to church, I was thinking how those Scouts chose to sleep out-of-doors and were prepared. But there are people out there that may be out in the elements by their choice or just by their circumstances who are not prepared. While I know that we can’t be all things to all people, I hope that in some way society can be a help to those people who want and would accept help to improve their circumstances. That would be my wish for today.