Preparing For a Winter Camp – Wool Socks
When trying to teach scouts about winter camping and what they need to do to prepare for one, it has always been a challenge. There are always some scouts that don’t bring the right gear to stay warm. Also, once they get up there, they get wet and find out the hard way that getting wet is not the right thing to do either. That is the best way to have scouts hate winter camping.
We have a boy in our scout troop that hated camping when he moved into our unit and we found out that the ONLY camp he had been on was a winter camp and was not prepared. It was miserable for him, so he thought all scout camps were that way. If they are miserable, they will not like it. I have to admit, when I was the Assistant Scoutmaster until a couple of years ago, I wasn’t extremely excited to go winter camping either. Winter camping is one of the funnest and most rewarding types of camps to me now. If you are prepared, it is very cozy and you learn a great life skill that you may have to use one day if you ever face a disaster.
One of the very effective activities that we have done with our scouts is the wool sock versus the normal sock test. We like to do this outside if there is snow but if there isn’t any, we use ice water buckets as seen in the picture above. Scouts remember activities that are fun and teach them something. If you just tell them to wear wool socks, they will not think it is important and will forget to bring them. If you have them experience the difference in a safe environment before they go camping, they will remember.
In this activity, we have them put one wool sock on one foot and then a normal sock on the other. We then have them walk around outside in the snow for a minute. If we don’t have snow, we bring a tarp and buckets filled with ice and water and have them put their feet in and hold them there for a minute. After they do this, we have them tell us which sock keeps their feet warmer and then explain why. They learn the lesson well.
Believe me, they do not forget to bring wool socks to winter camp after this activity. The boys look forward to this activity every year. The older scouts ask us, “when are we doing the wool sock winter test activity again?” so they can watch the newer scouts take the challenge. The older scouts also can also help explain to them why to wear wool socks which cements the concepts in even better.