Saturday, November 30, 2013

A new adventure awaits

Deep down in many ways I thought attending the 2013 National Scout Jamboree would end up being my last big Scouting adventure with the son and with our Troop. After all, in the last several years I have been blessed to be able to attend Sea Base and Philmont in addition to going to Jamboree as an ASM.

I also figured it was time to move on and certainly time to stop the monthly payments with college looming. The final thing for me is that my work seems to cycle through layoffs every two years which would place 2014 as another on of those "risk" years take always drive me crazy.

As a result of all these factors, when the sign up for Northern Tier came around I did not raise my hand to be an adult volunteer. Well, it turns out they did end up needing an additional adult and with some very light arm twisting I am now poised and pumped again for adventure. We are taking two crews to Antikokan and I am very excited about the six Scouts that will be joining the other leader and I on this adventure.

My plan is to blog along the way here and share our experience including planning, training, gear and our time on the water. I know it is going to be amazing!

Thanks for following along.

Sea Base 2011

Philmont 2012
Jamboree 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Some tips for staying warm during winter camping

NOTE: This list below is not for cold weather backpacking but instead for car camping type outings where weight and space for gear is not a strong concern. The content was originally created as a handout for our Scouts and Adults.

The winter months are a great time for camping. There is nothing better than sitting around a warm campfire with your friends on a cold and clear star filled night. The lower temperatures also bring new challenges that Scouts should be ready to face.  Need some tips?  We got you covered.
All Scouts should be responsible for packing their own gear on every campout and it is good idea for parents of younger Scouts to double check just to ensure he is properly prepared.

·         It will always feel colder than you will expect

·         It will always rain/sleet/snow when you do not expect it

·         Layers are your friend

·         Cotton is bad—wool and synthetic are good

Thermal Underwear:  Something synthetic and never cotton. Academy Sports Polar Edge is a great product at a very reasonable price. Scouts should have two full sets with one to wear during the day and the second to change into right before bed. Everyone sweats and changing right before sleep is essential to a warm night’s rest

Socks:  Absolutely no cotton socks. Heavy wool socks as an outer layer and a pair of synthetic sock liners for an inner layer will keep feet dry and warm. Scouts should have two full sets with one to wear during the day and a second to change into right before bed. A third set is good if you may have extra sweaty feet as moisture is the primary enemy of warmth. Change socks out midday for comfort.

Gloves: Bring gloves that are heavy enough for the worst temperature expected. A synthetic liner glove will help add a layer and come in handy when the temperature is warmer.

Hat: A fleece or wool camp is essential since we lose most of our body heat through our heads. A standard style is good for daywear and a balaclava style is great at night since it covers the neck as well. Again it is good to have one each with the second hat reserved for sleeping.

Neck Gaiter: A good alternative to the balaclava as it will cover the neck.

Long Sleeve Shirt: Wool, fleece, flannel, or synthetic. Cotton is best avoided

Mid-Layer: A fleece jacket, wool sweater, heavy sweatshirt (the troop shirt is great) or fleece vest will add to core body warmth.

Jacket: Should be waterproof and heavy enough for the worst temperatures together. If not waterproof be sure and check to see of the Scout raingear will fit over this jacket. Staying dry is very important.

Pants: Heavyweight jeans or insulated pants. Bring a backup pair.

Boots: Most everyday shoes worn by youth provide no protection from cold and very little protection from twisted ankles or water. Look for waterproof boots and always bring and extra pair of shoes as a backup. The backup can be anything reasonable.

Sleeping Bag: Most of the time, a good 20 degree mummy bag is adequate. Remember that for most bags the temperature rating is for survival and not for comfort meaning a 20 degree rating most likely means 30 degrees actual is about right. You can economically increase comfort by adding a fleece liner, fleece blanket, or try a “bag in a bag”. Use a rectangle bag as an outer layer with the mummy bag as the inner layer. 

Almost every year we find Scouts with bags that are rated 40-50 degrees trying to make it in the cold. Not good!

A zero degree bag is great too if able to have the expense of multiple bags. Remember, it is critical to change into a fresh full set of clothing before tucking in for the night.

Also, it is not good to cover fully with the bag as breathing inside will add moisture. Mummy bags are designed to synch around the face area to allow some external exposure.

Sleeping Pad: A good idea year round for comfort and even better for insulating yourself from the cold ground.  Adults you will want to leave the air mattresses and cots at home and plan to sleep on the ground without a layer of freezing air under you.

Camp Mug:  Why essential? You do not want to be the person left out from a steamy cup of hot chocolate, cider or coffee do you?

Water Bottle: Winter is prime time for dehydration as Scouts forget to drink when they are not hot. Always arrive for departure to campout with at least one full Nalgene.

Warmers: A nice variety of hand warmers, body warmers and toe warmers can make a real difference. These can stay active for many hours and are inexpensive. It is a good idea to activate a couple of hand warmers right before bed to throw in your bag near your feet. These also come in handy to place in boots for a bit in the morning.

Expect to have a great cold weather camping experience if you follow these tips.

Do you have any additional tips?