Preparing For Winter Camp – Backyard Prep
Preparing for winter camp is one of the “scary” things a lot of scouts struggle with. Today I wanted to share with you another winter camping preparation activity that we have done for years with our scouts shortly after the Wool Sock activity that I shared in another blog post. We pick a Friday night in January, since the Klondike Derby is in February, to do a preparatory overnight camp in the Scoutmaster’s backyard. This activity does a few things for the boys.
First, it provides them a safe and semi-comfortable environment to test out winter camping. Since we are just in the backyard, it is very easy to give them access to and indoor warm facility if they freak out on their first experience, as we all know some boys do. It is much better to have them have a problem now in this environment than up in the mountains.
Second, it provides them an easy way to learn a lesson if they didn’t bring the right equipment. They can run home or call their parents to get what they forgot quickly. When this happens, they won’t forget it on the “real” winter camp out in February.
Third, it helps them learn what happens on a winter camp when they play in the snow and get wet in a safe learning environment. We have had scouts come to this camp, then have a snowball fight, get all wet, then find out they can’t stay warm and sleep like that. Instead of being in a dangerous situation, we have the house right there to get them in, and get them some dry clothes and warm them up.
When you have young scouts that are 11-12 years old that have not attended a winter camp yet, it helps to do some small preparatory activities to ease their way into winter camping like this. As a scout leader you do not want to take scouts for the first time to a Klondike Derby without some kind of preparation. If you do this and get all the way up in the mountains and find out that some of the scouts are not prepared or are struggling and want to go home, this makes it very difficult.
Lastly, this also has provided an opportunity for nervous parents that are hesitant to send their boy to winter camp to let go a little bit, knowing that they are just across the street. Once they know their son can make it overnight and loved it, they are significantly more willing to let their son go to the Klondike Derby without worrying so much.