Canadian winter has so much to offer in way of unique and exciting adventures from tobogganing to snowshoe camps. You can even experience -20 degree overnights in snow shelters. A big part of any adventure is safety, which means so much more than just “getting by and being awake” – It is about becoming mindful about hazards, and knowing what to do when we encounter them.
As Scouting youth take more, and more, independent leadership in adventures, their safety mindedness needs to develop alongside the rest of their skills. The adage about giving someone a fish and feeding them for a day, verse, teaching them to fish and feeding them for a lifetime applies to safety too. This is especially true when you consider how Scouts develop independence to the point they are able to do solo or unsupervised adventures and expeditions. We should strive to equip our youth with a mindfulness of hazards that they can take with them anywhere and that can keep them safe in or out of uniform. And the way to build that safety mindedness in typical Scout fashion is through exciting adventures!
There’s so much fun to be had in winter that us Canadians are lucky to be able to enjoy as much as we can. But there are some unique challenges that go along with winter conditions like falling through ice, collapsing snow shelters, and of course frostbite.
So here are a few fun challenges for all sections that will help your youth be more mindful of the biggest winter dangers.
#1 – Snow Shelter Build Off
Here is the role-play Scenario:
Your Colony, Pack, or Troop decided to go camping to enjoy the winter weather, hoping to practice some skills in action, but upon arrival, you realize that you’ve forgotten your tents (or key to the cabin). Now you’re stranded and have to find a warm, dry shelter with good ventilation.
In Lodges, Lairs, or Patrols, you have to build the warmest and sturdiest (safest too!) shelter you can before sunset. For Beavers, these could be simple walls made of snow with a tarp on top, for Cubs consider using deadwood and packed in snow, and Scouts could learn to make full quinzhee. This is the perfect time to learn about winter shelter hazards like collapsing snow and moisture leading to hypothermia.
#2 – The warm up game
Here’s the role play scenario:
Your Lodge, Lair, or Patrol is on a winter day hike on a beautiful winter day, when they decided to play a game of manhunt. One of the Scouts ran off to hide, not realizing they were running onto snow covered ice. Suddenly, they fall in – luckily, it was only waist deep, but now they are drenched and going into hypothermia.
In small teams, choose one or two youth to role-play falling through the ice, and then the rest of the Lodge, Lair, or Patrol has to warm them up. For Beavers, change the narrative so the youth is just getting cold – less dramatic than falling through the ice. But for Cubs and Scouts that challenge can vary from finding a spot out of the wind, changing into dry clothes, to building a wind break and making a fire to warm up.