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Winter Skills - 2016

Day 1: Winter Skills

Sarah Savic Kallesoe,
Rover Scout and Youth Spokesperson
Burnaby, BC
Learning essential Winter Skills is important for Scouting youth in Canada as our winters tend to be long and cold. It is no wonder that one of the nine Outdoor Adventure Skills from the Canadian Path program (Scouts Canada’s revised program) is Winter Skills. All Sections, can focus on improving their personal Winter Skills by progressing through the nine stages of Winter Skills. To assist you with achieving your Outdoor Adventure Skills badges, and to help ensure you experiences safe winter adventures, below you will find helping tips and personal lessons on Winter Skills Safety.

Safety Week - Winter Skills


My story of Winter Camping

I went on my first winter camp when I was 11 years old. Two weeks before the camp, everyone in our Patrol had to bring their winter packs for the camp as if we were going out that night. Our Scouters led us through a checklist to make sure we had the necessities. I was terrified for this camp because the older boys kept telling stories of waking up and finding their tent-mate frozen like a block of ice. (Of course, I knew they were somewhat exaggerating, but I was still scared.) So naturally, I severely over-packed. I brought enough wool socks to warm a flock of sheep and more toques than necessary for a two-night camp.
It took three hours by school bus to drive from Burnaby to the campground at Manning Park. When we arrived, there was more than enough snow to build underground tunnels and fall in hip deep! The weekend was chilly, but because our Patrol had the right gear, no one ended up freezing into a block of ice overnight. By carefully planning the right clothes, equipment and food for you winter adventure, you can enjoy the snow without actually being cold. Here are a Scout's recommendations, based on experience, on how to keep warm while out in the cold.

1) Put the extra blanket UNDER your sleeping bag

I used to put my extra blanket on top of my sleeping bag, but it would not be very effective. The reason is the heat from your body and sleeping bag is drawn mainly by the cold snow below your mattress and tent, not the air surrounding you. If you're cold at night, lay your winter jacket on top of your mattress so you lay on top of it. This will provide an extra layer of insulation between you and the snow.

2) Pee before you go to bed...

..or else you'll wake up in the middle of night and really have to pee. Making matters worse, you won’t want to go out because it's cold. Trust me, this piece of advice comes from experience.

3) Pack snacks - always!

Whether you're going out for a light snowshoe hike or an intensive day of skiing or snowboarding, always pack an extra couple of granola bars in your jacket. In the cold, our bodies need to burn more fuel to keep us moving and warm, so you will get hungry sooner than usual.

4) Plan your meals

Make sure you plan for a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner while out on your adventure. Instead of having a sugary cereal in the morning, try something warm and filling, such as oatmeal with dried fruit.

5) Carry extra plastic bags

If your feet get wet, they will get cold. If your winter boots leak and you don't have an extra pair, change into dry socks and wrap your feet in the plastic bag before you put your boot on again. Granted, your feet will still be cold because the water in your boots will chill your feet, but at least they are dry and not as cold as they would be otherwise.

6) Bring an extra pair of boots

If you can, bring a second set of weather-appropriate boots.

7) Wear Layers

Instead of wearing one heavy down jacket and a t-shirt underneath, wear a long-sleeve shirt, a sweater and jacket. That way, if you get too warm, you can peel off a layer and cool down just enough instead of taking off your heavy jacket and cooling down too much, too quickly.
Scouts Canada’s Youth Spokespeople challenge you to participate in Safety Week by sharing your #SafeScouting story on social media, or the MyAdventures Blog. You can also forward the daily tips to friends and family to make sure everyone in your community stays safe.


Scouts Canada, the country’s leading youth organization, offers challenging programs for boys, girls and youth age 5-26 in thousands of individual groups in most cities and towns across Canada.

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