If you’ve been involved in Scouting for even a short while, I’m sure you’ve heard people in your troop mention winter camps! Wondering what’s involved with these neat outings and how you can best prepare? Well, you’re in luck! That’s exactly what I’m going to break down and explore in this article.
What Is A BSA Scout Winter Camp? A BSA Scout Winter Camp is a week-long, multi-troop event where Scouts learn outdoor skills and engage in winter activities like snowshoeing and cold-weather camping. Winter camps often include merit badge workshops, troop competitions, campfires, and plenty of opportunities for Scouts to complete requirements.
P.S. This article is a guest post collaboration between Eagle Scouts, Michael M and Cole🙂
First and foremost, we’ll give you a broad overview of what to expect at a BSA Scout winter camp. Then, delve into what’s so special about these outings. After that, we’ll take a closer look at what awesome activities you can partake in! Finally, you’ll learn some helpful tips and tricks, including what clothes to wear and what supplies to bring. Let’s get to it!
What Happens at a Weeklong Scout Winter Camp?
There’s no doubt that every troop can benefit from attending a winter camp. These camps offer a bunch of fun, productive things to do. Scouts can make new friends among other troops, explore nature, and take part in various other activities, such as merit badge classes, campfires, and troop challenges!
Winter camps provide so many opportunities to learn and advance in Scouting, paving the road to higher ranks and new badges. There are also more subtle benefits, like the chance to deepen Scouting friendships and step up as a leader within your troop. Most of all, winter camp is a great place to make new memories and have fun!
Why Are Scout Winter Camps Important?
Many people will tell you that camping is the most exciting adventure Scouts BSA has to offer. Being an Eagle Scout myself, I definitely agree! This is especially the case for winter camps, as they give Scouts the perfect chance to spend time with friends and participate in team-building exercises while also making a ton of requirement progress!
Of course, that’s not all that winter camps have to offer. They also give Scouts a perfect setting to hone their outdoor skills! Since winter camps are a lot colder, but still manageable, they’ll teach a ton about self-sufficiency and problem-solving. Plus, you’ll probably also have some pretty epic campfire ceremonies! 😀
How Much Does a Scout Winter Camp Cost?
Now, on to the important question: How much will a Scout winter camp cost? While the fees of a BSA Scout winter camp will vary widely, depending on where you live and the sorts of activities offered, in general, the cost of a winter camp can typically range from anywhere between $200-$500.
Why such a big price range? Well, winter camps typically last anywhere between 4-6 days, with food and lodging often being provided. Plus, there are merit badge classes, activities, and winter sports – all of which add up to a hefty additional cost for supplies. Below are a few examples of Scout winter camps and their prices:
- NYC Winter Camp: $265
- Philmont Winter Camp: $100 per day (so $400-$600 for most Scouts)
- Greater New York Council Winter Camp: $350.00
- Winter Camp at CDC: $135
- Baiting Hollow Scout Camp: $425
While this may seem a bit expensive, know that winter camp was one of my favorite experiences as a Scout, and I’m sure it’ll be for you too! To offset some of these costs, Scouts can fundraise by selling popcorn or even sometimes request a need-based scholarship from the camp or their troop. This is definitely an experience that every Scout should have at least once!
Scout Winter Camp Activities
Now that I’ve given a broad overview of what to expect at a Scout winter camp, along with costs, let’s dig a bit deeper! As I said before, there are tons of activities that Scouts can take part in Some are even intended to help Scouts cross off requirements for specific merit badges, putting them on the fast track to success!
Winter camps also provide qualified and knowledgeable merit badge counselors who are well-versed in the material they’ll be covering. It’s worth noting that even though the counselors are tasked with evaluating a Scout’s familiarity with the material, it’s ultimately up to the Scoutmaster to determine whether the Scout really gets it!
Are you curious about what sorts of merit badges are covered at winter camps? Well, the great thing is that each winter camp offers its own set of badges. Most will have a few Eagle-required ones, and a lot more elective, fun ones! Here are just a few examples of the awesome badges I had the chance to earn at winter camps:
- Citizenship in the Nation
- American Heritage
- First Aid
- Emergency Preparedness
- Environmental Science
- Game Design
Some of these topics, such as cooking and environmental science, will be a more obvious fit for a setting like a winter camp. Still, badges like Game Design can definitely be obtained at a winter camp as well! All it takes is a little out-of-the-box thinking from the counselors to make these subjects fit right in. 😀
Of course, not all of the activities at winter camp are related to earning merit badges! There are tons of other ways to spend your time. While not all activities will directly assist in rank progression, they’re all definitely worth the energy you’ll put into them! Here are a few examples of winter camp activities that are just plain fun:
- Snowshoeing/winter hiking
- Ice fishing
- Building snow shelters
- Winter sports
- An exciting troop snowman-building contest or snowball fight!
If you’re interested in seeing some Scout winter activities in action, check out this short video (0:42) below. This page also showcases a fantastic compilation of Scout winter activities. This is just a small taste of the adventures that await Scouts who are ready to attend a BSA winter camp!
Tips for Scout Winter Camp
Now, let’s go over some tips to make your time at winter camp as pleasant as it can be! While a few of these tips are related to badges and other topics, most of them are specifically meant to help you withstand the cold. By keeping off the chills during your trip, you’ll be able to focus on fun and friendships instead!
Now, ready to take a look at some super helpful tips and tricks? Here are some of the most important points to remember every time a winter camp like this rolls around:
- Plan your badges beforehand. Of course, this includes completing all prerequisites and making sure you grasp the material involved with each.
- Know all your gear inside and out. You want to be able to use every item to your full advantage, so make sure you have a good grasp on what each one is useful for!
- Pack hand warmers, beanies, and warm socks. I’m sure this goes without saying, but winter camps can be very, very cold! Bringing these three items along will do a whole lot to combat the chilly temperatures and enhance the quality of your time at camp.
- In my experience, the most important accessories to keep warm are gators, ear covers, gloves, a head cover, and quality wool socks. Having these really helps to prevent heat from leaving your body!
- Make sure to wear something that insulates heat on the outside, as well as warm layers below. This goes hand in hand with the last tip, as it’s sure to improve your winter camp experience. Pack intelligently, layer up, and you’re sure to have a much nicer time! 😀
- Keep yourself well hydrated. You may associate dehydration with the summer months, but the fact is that you can easily get dehydrated during winter as well! The dryness of the air lends itself well to dehydration, so make sure to drink plenty of water.
- Keep yourself active. If you’re not involved in any group activities and find yourself growing cold, that’s the perfect time to turn to exercise! Get your blood flowing in whatever way you can, whether that means taking a walk, doing jumping jacks, or anything else. It may seem simple, but it’ll do wonders to warm you up!
- Mix your water with other liquids. Adding in a drink like lemonade will help the water withstand lower temperatures and keep it from freezing quite so easily! Even better, boil some hot water on your campfire to make cocoa for your patrol!
- Extra socks are a must. Make sure to bring two changes of socks per day! Trust me, you’ll be really happy you did. 😉
- Warm your sleeping bag with a heated water bottle before bedtime. The process for warming the water bottle is very simple: Just place it near a fire and let the flames do all the work! Of course, don’t put it too close. We want to warm it, not melt it!
- Use your body heat to warm your fresh clothes each morning. Here’s a pro-tip! Take the clothes you’ll wear the coming day and put them right inside your sleeping bag with you. They’ll be nice and toasty for when you wake up in the morning. It really is as simple as that!
What to Wear at a Scout Winter Camp
One of my most vivid Scouting memories is a trip my troop took during the winter. It was fun for sure — but what makes me recall it so clearly is just how cold it was! While the cold did make the trip more memorable, it’s not really the sort of thing you want to remember an outing by. 😜
The reason I bring this up is to reinforce just how important it is to dress warmly! Think ahead as you pack, and don’t hesitate to bring along anything you think you’ll want or need. Your Scout intuition is an essential tool when it comes to packing, so make sure to take full advantage of it!
Of course, in addition to trusting your gut, it’s vital that you rely on a checklist as well! That’s why I’m going to give you one right now, filled with the clothing essentials for every winter camping trip:
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Long pants
- Wool socks
- Long underwear
- Wool sweaters
- Water-resistant gloves
- Wool hat
- Wool scarf
- Heavy-duty shoes
- Raincoat or poncho
- Extra socks
- Extra underwear
The extra socks and extra underwear are especially important! Make sure not to pack too light when it comes to extras, as you never know when you’ll want or need them. The word “extra” might seem to imply “optional,” but that honestly couldn’t be further from the truth! You can even use your extras to layer up if it gets that cold! 🙂
What Cold-Weather Gear Should Scouts Pack for Winter Camp?
Of course, clothing isn’t all there is to pack. There’s also your gear! Here are some essential gear items to bring along to winter camp. They’ll serve you well throughout your trip, helping you stay warm and be prepared for any unexpected conditions. Again, getting caught unprepared in the cold is a terrible feeling, and I won’t let it happen to you!
Before we dive into the list, I want to say a little something about temperature ratings. If you haven’t heard of them before, a temperature rating is basically a number that indicates the lowest temperature at which a sleeping bag can be considered comfortable. The lower the number, the lower the temperature the sleeping bag is able to handle.
- Cold-weather sleeping bag: This one is arguably the most important of all! The weather conditions of your upcoming trip are what will determine the appropriate temperature rating for your sleeping bag, so make sure to take note of both the precise time of year and the predicted temperatures.
- Sleeping bag liner: This item is very useful in the winter! It’s capable of bringing your sleeping bag’s temperature rating even lower than it would be otherwise. These liners are made of fleece and silk, and they go right inside your sleeping bag!
- Water bottle: This one isn’t just for staying hydrated. Like I said up above, you can heat up your water bottle to pre-warm your sleeping bag! You’ll thank yourself when it’s time to crawl into your sleeping bag for a good night’s rest.
- Large pack: This last one isn’t exactly meant to keep you warm, but it definitely still has a place on this list! The items you pack in the winter are typically bulkier than what you’ll bring along in the summer, so make sure to choose a pack that can carry all that extra mass and weight.
As you can see, winter camps have a whole lot to offer each and every Scout! There are so many handy skills to be gained and awesome memories to be made. Your bonds with the rest of your troop are certain to be strengthened, and you’re bound to grow both as a person and as a Scout!
Every BSA winter camp is different, so you’re going to have a unique and special experience no matter which you choose to attend! The activities these camps offer are just as rewarding as they are fun, and the benefits they’ll bring to you are guaranteed to last a lifetime. So, get ready to earn badges and have a blast with your troop! 😀
I really hope this article helped to get you excited and prepared for Scout winter camp. These camps are really at the core of Scouting, so try your best to attend, stay warm, and you’ll be sure to make some incredible memories! Next up, don’t forget to check out any of the following articles if they spark your interest:
- Advance Fast in Scouting (5 Rank-Up Keys To Help You Earn Eagle)
- 99 Quotes For BSA Scouts: Inspiration On Your Scouting Adventure
- 50+ Incredible BSA Scout Facts (To Wow Your Troop)
- The Scout Law: What To Know To Be The Best Scout You Can Be
- The Essential Camp Packing List: A Scout’s Trek Gear Checklist
That’s all for now! Thanks for stopping by ScoutSmarts, one of the best online resources for preparing you to make the best of your Scouting journey! Hope to see you back here again soon and, until next time, I’m wishing you nothing but the best.