Friday, April 3, 2009

Winter Camping "The Cold Version of Hell"

I earned my Eagle scout award as a teenager and I'm sure I could survive if I woke up naked in the middle of Siberia as long as I had a pocket knife. Despite having a dominant McGeyver gene, I have never been a big camping enthusiast. My philosophy is why revert back to more primitive and uncomfortable situations if we have already solved this problem? The irony about my belief is that I was recently asked to be a scout master for the boys in our community. I accepted but I made a promise to myself that I would never require my boys to do any stupid or embarrassing cheers. That's ok for cub scouts, but there comes a time when that is no longer appropriate behavior and I'm not going to demean 12 and 13 year olds. They are people too.

I believe scouting teaches boys some important values skills and I agree with them all except for the cheers and the heavy emphasis on camping. The prior scoutmaster I was replacing had done an excellent job for many years. He was dedicated and took them on camp outs every month regardless of the weather. They already had camp outs planned for the winter months when I took over so I figured we'd go ahead and do them. It had been a while since I had been camping in the cold so I had forgotten what it was like, or possibly suppressed those memories in the deep recesses of my brain filed in the "suffering memories" compartment.

First of all I was totally unprepared for the first camp out. I knew I should have taken better gear than my boy's Anakin Skywalker sleeping bag but it was light weight and easy to pack. I think the temperature rating on that sleeping bag indicates that it is dangerous to use even at room temperature. Then there was the tossing and turning all night because I didn't take any padding. I woke up 15-20 times in the night just praying that the sun would be coming up any minute, but each time I'd check my watch only several minutes had elapsed. Once you get your feet cold you are doomed to suffer. I have since remembered that the key to enjoying yourself is being prepared with the proper equipment. Now that I think about it, I recall something about preparedeness being mentioned somewhere in the scouting program.

I have quickly learned that to enjoy camping you need to be warm and have enough food. I am trying hard not to be a party pooper because I am working with some great boys and I don't want to spoil their fun or spirit of adventure since I'm such a home body. I've decided that I will enthusiastically go winter camping again next year...if all of our homes just happen to burn down and we have no better options. Nobody could be happier for Spring to be here than me.

Addendum-Maui just sent me an awesome link in the comments section and I have to include a picture of the Tuantaun carcass sleeping bag he told me about. I wasn't lucky enough to have one of these or I'm sure I would have stayed warm.


Kristina P. said...

This literally made me relive all of the horrible camping trips I have been on. And there have been many.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I don't mind camping. That is, until I moved to North Carolina, where I learned that, of all the poisonous snakes found in the eastern half of the United States, we have each of them. Same goes for spiders

This didn't bother me much, either, until I found one on the back edge of my property. After that, I decided that camping would best be done in cabins.

Dr Zibbs said...

I went camping once with 8 friends.

We all stayed in one tent and in the middle of the night it was raining in the tent.

Worst trip ever.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

I totally agree with you! You're a sport to volunteer but I remember my first (and last) camping trip... the cold, the bumpy ground we lay on, the terrible toilets and lack of hot showers... no way will I willingly do it again!!

Jeanne said...

I like camping, but ONLY when I have the proper equipment -- air mattress, warm sleeping bag, gas campstove, reliable lantern. Everything else is negotiable.

Emily said...

"Now that I think about it, I recall something about preparedness being mentioned somewhere in the scouting program."


Thanks for the laugh.

Beckalita said...

I like camping, but only with a washer and dryer, microwave, hot chocolate, electric blanket, air mattress, DVD player, Email, and facebook. Actually, I think it pretty much amounts to standing outside on the back porch and then going back inside. That, I can handle.

MikkSolo said...

Bring on camping! Love it! I think you would make a great scout leader. Your right on the stupid cheers though. Perhaps you should only require the "watermelon greeting". Big slurpy bites then act like your spitting out seeds... you know the one.

Hairball said...

My philosophy is why revert back to more primitive and uncomfortable situations if we have already solved this problem?

I'm too much of a fan of electricity, running water, and having a roof over my head to enjoy camping under the stars.

Kristina P. said...

SO, I just read your entire Following post in my Reader, and it's not here! Are you going to post it? I have some very important things to say.

Maui said...

Well your first issue was indeed the selection of the Anikin Skywalker sleeping bag. We all know that when on the icy planes of Hoth, the best solution for warmth is inside a tauntaun. Therefore I present you with the "Tauntaun sleeping bag"

Winter camping issues solved.