Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Looking for help with Winter Sierra Nevada Snow Camping Survival Skill for Scouts
Display Avatars Sort By:
Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Looking for help with Winter Sierra Nevada Snow Camping Survival Skill for Scouts on 01/04/2014 12:03:36 MST Print View

I am planning our Troop's annual snow camping trip for the older scouts. We usually go up to Yosemite, Alpine Lake, or Carson Pass. Snow shoe in 3 to 5 miles, build snow caves and camp out two nights.

This year there might not be enough snow do build caves. So I am thinking what else can we do. A post by Bob Gross on another tread about his annual habit of building a fire and boiling water on his first ski tour of the season, got me thinking. Perhaps we could have a fire building competition where teams of 2 or 3 scouts build fires and bring a pint of water to a boil.

Ideally, I would like to design this in such a way that it can be as leave no trace as possible. Meaning, I do not necessarily want to dig three or four holes down to mineral soil. (And leave after the exercise 4 or 5 black sooty scars in the snow).

I have seen references on the web to folks building fires on snow with "fire cloth" and/or galvanized trash can lids on top of a bed of branches. We could haul in some wood to provide insulation to avoid the need to cut wood from live trees. But I hope some Scouter has more specific ideas so I am not having to invent this from scratch.

I suppose I could bring my Bush Buddy and borrow two others from friends and have the teams build tiny fires in the Bush Buddies.

Note: Many of these Scouts passed the BSA fire building rank advancement without actually having to light the fire. So one of my other goals, it to give them practice in building a fire.

Charley White
(charleywhite) - M

Locale: Petaluma
fire pan on 01/04/2014 13:28:13 MST Print View

I have a friend who uses a motor oil drain pan. I've never done it, but always sounded like the perfect size and item for a small group campfire. Immediately, I realize these are young bodies and these pans are likely zinc galvanized.

Edited by charleywhite on 01/04/2014 13:32:09 MST.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
activities at winter camp on 01/09/2014 21:39:23 MST Print View

We went on a winter campout where we hauled our gear with gear sleds. At camp we built a luge run through the trees and scouts used the gear sleds as luges. We also has a snowshoe course with targets at intervals. The scouts snow shoed around the course and shot at the targets with bb guns. That was fun.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Re: Activities at winter camp on 01/12/2014 09:52:57 MST Print View

Two quick suggestions to keep the lads busy:

Should there be not enough snow to carve out a cave (its too scant), then a snow quinzee is still a possibility. I would recommend using a tarp over a round pile of packs and building it over that ... it will reduces the amount of snow needed to be piled up and it goes faster. Remember to have a pack sticking out from the group to act as a form for the entry and make it easy to extract the packs from the interior.

There is also the possibility of building igloo by using a turkey pan (or an equivalent "mold") as you snow block / snow brick "mold" ... gather up snow and pack it down into the "mold". Once done, gently turn it upside down - the taper of the pan's walls will allow it to release fairly easily.

Of course these suggestions also work if there is enough snow, and igloo block carving will go much faster than making snow molds of blocks.

Edited by tr-browsing on 01/12/2014 09:56:05 MST.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Biathlon at winter camp on 02/18/2014 10:32:52 MST Print View

Bob, given the recent Olympic events, your activity sounds like a lot of fun for the boys (BB Guns and skis). You probably had everything covered, but for others reading this, please be aware of the BSA policy about this kind of activity, If you don't follow it and someone is hurt on your activity, you can be liable.

Here is the policy from the "Guide to Safe Scouting":

The Boy Scouts of America adheres to its longstanding policy of teaching its youth and adult members the safe, responsible, intelligent handling, care, and use of firearms, air rifles, BB guns, and archery equipment in planned, carefully managed, and supervised programs.
Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their jurisdiction, firearms shall not be brought on camping, hiking, backpacking, or other Scouting activities except those specifically planned for target shooting under the supervision of a currently certified BSA national shooting sports director or National Rifle Association firearms instructor.
All shooting sports activities held during a council resident camp will follow the standards in National Camp Standards, No. 430-056. All shooting sports activities held outside of a council’s resident camp will follow the rules and regulations found in the BSA National Shooting Sports Manual, No. 30931, which can be downloaded here.

Edited by bestbuilder on 02/18/2014 10:43:50 MST.

David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
Re: Looking for help with Winter Sierra Nevada Snow Camping Survival Skill for Scouts on 02/18/2014 10:56:06 MST Print View

These guys sometimes do trainings with youth. Maybe survival, avalanche, SAR etc.

Check with the education person.