Winter Camping: The Basics of Planning and Executing

By Madison Bifano, Youth Spokesperson

When people think of camping, they often think of peaceful mornings in the warm summer sunshine, day hikes and mosquitoes. To someone in Scouting, camping can take a lot of different forms, but the most daunting of them all is winter camping.  Planning for winter camping takes a lot more work than any other kind of camp, but the outcome can be much more rewarding if it’s done right!

Before you pack up your gear and take to the woods, it’s important to have a plan mapped out. The first step in the planning process is deciding on the location and length of your trip, as they affect the most important part of camping – the shelter! Depending on the state of the ground or the area that you are planning your adventure in, there are a lot of different choices for winter shelters. For example, one may choose to build a quinzhee (essentially an igloo made from loose snow instead of packed ice blocks), sleep in an in-ground shelter – usually made from snow, tarps, and assorted coniferous brush, or if the area and temperature allows for it – a tent. Packing gear for a winter camp isn’t all that different from any other, it just requires more layers.

PRO TIP: Think onion: Onions have layers! Layering is important. Having the ability to get in and out of layers easily will help you to regulate your body temperature and avoid sweating.

Try to pack light and warm and you’ll be set. While the location and terrain of winter camps vary across the country, you may want to consider packing a toboggan, some snowshoes or cross-country skis!

PRO TIP: Be sure to eat plenty on winter outings. Your body is burning more calories than usual, just to keep warm. Keep that furnace fueled.

Once your plans are complete, it’s time to head out on your winter adventure! As with any camping trip with a well thought out plan, it’s important to keep an open mind regarding any last minute changes that may occur. For example, unexpected weather conditions can make it a challenge to carry out certain activities. If that’s the case, it isn’t difficult to brainstorm new activities to do that are weather appropriate!

PRO TIP: Always check the weather forecast before heading out in the winter. Be prepared for the conditions, and be open to rescheduling a planned outing if the weather is dangerously cold or stormy.

A final very important step in planning and executing a winter camping trip is to make sure you have fun! Whether you’re going out to hone your survival skills or to fully experience the beauty and joy of winter, it should be fun (and safe of course). Always bring a friend: Share the adventure with others. The more the merrier. You can share the load of food and gear, and you’ll have support if you have an emergency. So start planning your next winter camping adventure today and get out there!

Here’s a tip from the Canadian Path: Use the Plan-Do-Review method to ensure all your future adventures are great ones!



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