February 21, 2010

Polar Bear Campout 2010

This past weekend was our Polar Bear Camp-out for our Boy Scout Troop.

It was phenomenal weather! I have a sun/wind burn that's going to take some aloe to get under control. I took a few photos and so here are some highlights.

Upon first arriving, we have the usual milling about. Looking for something to do, wondering if the snow will work to our advantage.

Here's the first move, on to the pond. The ice was about 8" thick, that was discovered later when an ice auger was located and they began to make Swiss cheese of the pond ice.

With a shovel and a broom you can clear an ice rink pretty quick with 12 guys. Not sure what's happening in the photo, but no one was hurt out there so it could have been just rolling around on the ice, that did seem to be popular. Soon enough we had enough wet to last until the fire was going.

We all needed to get to the ice and see how slippery it was.

In this shot you can see the beautiful sky, the woods in the distance, the ponds and maybe, just barely you can see a scout running with a kite. With zero wind, I'd recommend that you look for the kite on the ground.

Even though it was pretty warm, we knew we'd need some fire after dark, so some hardy folks are splitting some wood with a maul and a few wedges. Taking turns was the best way to get everyone involved, get the work done and avoid too much work!

Part of the afternoon was devoted to preparing shelter for the night. The adults mostly opted for tents. One was convinced to join his son in a Quinzee. Check out the link if you are unsure of what a quinzee is.

Here's a 1 man shelter. You should know that the opening was facing North and before the afternoon was done, the scout bunked in elsewhere. While it was a pretty good example of what you can whip up, it's got some flaws.

Out in the woods, those that I referenced earlier, you can just barely make out a crude structure that is lashed between the tree.

Upon closer examination you can see that it's a blend of many different tarps tied up and under to create a "tent" like structure. This was pretty big, and 3 of the older scouts opted for this method. It should be pointed out that they were positioned above one of the many ponds. When they dismantled in the morning, they discovered that there was open water under the bottom tarp. No worries for them though, they had enough rope that they virtually created a hammock that they put all their gear on.

One scout was messing around and started a snow fort. The scout master explained how easy it would be to go just a bit further and create a shelter. Here they are rolling away at making the sides out of "wheels of snow", they're kind of like snowballs used on snowmen, but without the sphericalness.

Here's the lad, nearly done. Shortly after this they took the branches in the top of the photo, laid them across the structure, laid a tarp over that and used stakes and snow to hold it all in place. I was worried it'd be too cold, but there were a few things that showed it was OK. First, he fell asleep getting his gear into the shelter. Second, in the morning he refused to get up because he felt really warm and saw no need to move around.

Here's the start of another quinzee. It was supposed to be for two, but ended up being for 1. Good looking shadow there isn't it?

The quinzees were built up with a front end loader. To hollow them out, it took a shovel and some effort. Here was one person's idea on material handling. It seemed to work. His dad was pretty cool about pulling out the snow as it filled up. Then I realized that his Dad would be sleeping there. That's kind of tough, it's a bit claustrophobic, but warm. I opted for a tent.

Here's Spencer's home for the night. His buddy that shared the dwelling with him was inside digging it out in this shot. The front end loader got a bit low a few times for this quinzee and it was actually the dirtiest of the snow shelters. Kind of funny isn't it, a dirty snow shelter.

This is a shot of the scout trailer, then my tent, then Ian's quinzee. Ian's quinzee was large enough that 4 scouts were inside that one. They had fun well in to the wee hours of the morning, but getting up was a challenge. For me, the tent was the way to go. I had no snow over the top of me and so my gear was pretty dry. The boys in the quinzees seemed to be pretty damp, they were warm, but wet by morning.

Here's a sh0t of the kitchen/dining area. It's amazing to watch guys put together their meals. This was not without drama. Suicide soup was the meal for one patrol, yet only one can of soup was brought. It seems that they weren't clear, they expected the grocery buyer to select random cans of soup, while the buyer expected everyone to contribute to the randomness of the meal. In the end some soda was bartered away for hot grilled cheese sandwiches. All ended well.

In the morning we got up, packed up, made breakfast and hit the road. Of course that took 4+ hours, but the fire pit was the place to be as you finished various chores. Swing by for some heat, conversation and maybe a bit of coffee.

In all, this was a great trip. The boys and I always grow from these adventures and we learn a lot. We learn how to be helpful, how to solve problems, how to work together and how to handle conflict. This was no different.

Have a great day!