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Camping In Instead of Camping Out

Winter camping can be a challenge with Scouts who are not used to being outside in the cold. If all else fails, camping in instead of camping out is an option.

Why Camp In?

Like many units, our troop tries to go camping every month with the exception of November (deer season and Scouting for Food). A few years back, their winter plan was for tent camping in December and cabin camping in January and February. The troop got a scout property cabin for February from the council lottery.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a “scout priced” cabin to be found at the county or state parks for the camping weekend in January.  Nor were a couple of unit owned cabins in the area available. There was one county park cabin available in December though, so the plan was switched to cabin camping in December and tent camping in January. The chosen tent camping location was Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, since they have a full campground open during the winter season.

While nobody expected a tremendous turnout for January tent camping, there just was not enough interest to pull it off. Only 3 youth (2 of them my sons) and one adult (my husband) signed up. So it had to be cancelled. The youth leaders considered a day hike, but the Committee was concerned about the safety of hiking in January ice, so that was scratched also.

Youth Leadership Input

With the weekend only about two weeks away and still no plan for any activity, the PLC had another idea – a camp-in at our chartered organization.  The troop had never done this before and most of the youth didn’t even realize it was an option. The SPL and ASPL  were enthusiastic about the idea though, so this was the new plan for the January weekend.

And it seemed the troop agreed with their youth leaders. With the change in venue, the unit had 12 youth and 2 adults signed up, which was a very large turnout for a weekend activity for this small unit.

What to Do?

So they arrived Friday evening and played games in the meeting rooms. Those who wanted to, worked on advancement with some of the youth leaders. They were able to cook a meal outside. After league games clear out, they played basketball in the gym. Then back to the meeting rooms to sleep.  In the morning had a cold breakfast, goofed off some more, cleaned up the meeting room, and went home.

Only Occasionally

A troop needs a strong outdoor program, so I wouldn’t suggest doing this too often. But I think this is much better than everyone just throwing their hands up and doing nothing. Who knows? It might turn out to be one of those activities that keeps some of the ones who are losing interest coming back for more.

Also, this is a really great option for a fun winter activity for Cub Scouts, who, because they are smaller, are less able to handle long periods in the cold.

Related Resources for Camping In Instead of Camping Out

winter camp games

Winter Camp Games and Activities

Nancy sent in this question about winter camp games: “I would like ideas for a winter camp that we either play inside or outside in the snow.”

Is Cold Weather Camping Appropriate for Cub Scouts

Is Cold Weather Camping Appropriate for Cub Scouts?

Debbie asks if cold weather camping is appropriate for Cub Scouts. See some feedback from other Scouters in the comments.


3 responses to “Camping In Instead of Camping Out”

  1. christine Avatar

    i find that success with winter camping is based upon proper equipment and training. the camp-in sounds like a good option for a group that needs to build better fellowship which will make the boys WANT to spend more time together, no matter the weather.

    my son hates the cold and even though we’ve invested in GREAT equipment for him, he is not going on our district camporee later this month. he just hates it so much. so we aren’t making him. next month when there is a cabin that sleeps 12, he’ll go on that one. some of the boys opt to sleeping outside (we have one boy who specializes in snow caves, so he builds those if the conditions are right).

  2. Sandy Avatar

    Our Troop did the winter camping last February (2010) in the bad snow and they had a blast. We did sleep in tents under a pavilion (due to heavy snow) and All of my troop showed up!!! The Assistant Scoutmaster thought that we had put snow in his tent, but we didnt, he forgot to leave the zipper open a little and he had so much condensation inside his tent. HE WAS SOAKED!!!! The leaders were having just as much fun in the snow as the boys did!! We are looking forward to doing it again this year!!!

  3. Carol Avatar

    we did this with our troop when it first formed the Scoutmaster was not all that into camping anyway, so jumped at the idea of indoor camping in January, our chartered org has large drop down screen at the front of the main area, the boys each brought their favorite movie and they watched movies all night next morning they did a service project for the chartered org it worked very well (note they did cook their meals outdoors in dutch oven so still some scouting skills got covered)

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