If you’re looking for ways to expand on your OAS, but you’re thinking to yourself “it’s winter and there is not much that I can’t do at this time of the year”, then think again! In this article, I will show you that there are many ways to get outside and achieve your OAS skills in the winter!
1- Winter is actually a great time to go camping. Lots of people would probably say that camping in the winter sounds so miserable and cold, but it can be the other way around. Camping in the winter can be a very enjoyable experience. If you plan your trip properly and have the right gear, you can have a great time. Consider renting a provincial park site for camping. You will need to find one that stays open throughout the winter). Before you head out, make a list of the things you will need and pack your bag yourself, or with the help of an adult, so that you know where everything is. Setting up your tent, recognizing a good and a bad place to camp, and sleeping in it overnight corresponds to important OAS skills (camping 4.9, winter 4.5). Check the weather before you head out and discuss the risks with someone (camping 3.9). Something fun to do while camping is to have a campfire and make hot chocolate and a foil dinner or S’mores on it. (camping 3.12, scoutcraft 2.2).
2- Going on a forest hike in the winter can be extremely beautiful and a terrific way to spend your day. If you live near a forest, you could also consider going snowshoeing or cross-country skiing (winter 4.10 and 3.12). Make sure you are always being safe and someone knows where you are.
3- A very traditional part of Scouting and of all the OAS skills is knot tying. This is a very versatile activity because you can do it almost anywhere! All you need is a piece of rope and instructions you can find online or in books from the Scout shop or the library. Some great knots to practise are:
- Figure 8 knot
- Water/tape knot
- Double Fisherman’s knot
- Clove hitch
- Reef knot
Knots are useful for all kinds of activities like shelter building, sailing and fishing, just to name a few (scoutcraft 2.2).
4- If you live near a tobogganing hill, then you have a great way to spend your afternoon outside, go sledding. Sledding is super fun and does correspond to an awesome OAS competency (winter 2.1). You should always wear a proper helmet for this type of activity, remember not go down the hill when somebody is walking up and not to slide where there are trees or other things in the pathway.
5- Shelter building is an activity that you can even enjoy in your backyard, such as making a quinzhee (winter 2.1). A quinzhee is a type of snow shelter that is fairly easy to learn how to make. This shelter is basically just a large pile of snow that has been allowed to crystallize for a few hours that then has a “cave” dug into it. The first step is to put a large amount of snow into a pile. Once you have let that sit and compact for a few hours you can start digging in from one side (preferably the side that is sheltered from the wind, and slightly downhill) until you start to see a little bit of blue. You will need a broom handle or other rod-shaped item to poke an air hole in the top if you plan to sleep in it. You will want to stuff a garbage bag with gear to seal the entry, so the quinzhee will warm up with your body heat.
6- Ice fishing is a very easy activity to do even if you have very little fishing experience. I highly recommend renting an ice fishing cabin and having someone experienced drill the hole for you. There are rental places that can do this for you, and even community fishing derbies, which are very fun. It’s a great activity to try as a Group!
7- A lot of the competencies are not possible to do outside during the winter. For the aquatics OAS skills for example, consider going to your local public pool. You can go snorkelling in a public pool (Aquatic 2.5). You can just mess around during a public swim, or you can get some distance and a workout during a lane swim.
8- Another thing you can do indoors is to go to an indoor climbing centre. This is a great way to spend your afternoon. Set new goals and climb to the top of different walls (vertical 1 and 3.6). Also, you should practise some knots that are used for climbing, such as a figure eight follow through and a bowline.
I hope this article encourages you to get outside and expand on your outdoor adventure skills while always making sure to take the appropriate safety precautions for every activity. You should also always check the weather before going out to dress accordingly and make sure someone knows where you are.