Over the last couple of days, since I posted my Cold weather Camping Card, there has been a lot of discussion and email flying around about techniques, procedures, and skills needed for, in particular, cold weather camping.
I would suggest that as Scout leaders we take this very seriously.
If your unit goes out and camps in “Extreme conditions”, treks out away from the fire rings and parking lots, then I would recommend that your adult leaders and youth leadership get additional training. And no, the BSA does not offer the kind of training I am suggesting.
OK, so your Trip permit requires CPR trained individuals, it requires Hazardous Weather training, safety afloat and Safe Swim defense as well as Youth protection… and you are required to read and agree to the safe driving policy. That is all well and good… until you strap on your snow shoes and head into the wilderness.
Wilderness First Aid courses and Cold weather skills training are a must. The BSA does offer the OKPIK training in certain Councils, but I would venture to say that you will not get the level of training that you will get through NOLS, Alpine Adventures, or most mountaineering or backpacking clubs.
Outfitters like REI and Next Adventure are also great resources for getting to training for your outdoor experiences.
I guess my point is that before you take a group of Scouts out into the wilderness.. you better go beyond what the BSA “requires” and get trained.
I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am an experienced Backpacker and have taken the time to go to training, become proficient in skills and have the ability to teach those skills. But what I have learned, among other things is that you never can stop learning. Techniques change with better understanding and time and it is imperative that we keep up with the changes.
Do not be the Scout leader that wanders off into the woods with a group of boys without training. We see it every year on the news were Scouts get hurt and no one knew what they were doing. It’s not just camping.. its skills, attitude, knowledge, fun, and adventure. But we need to do it smart.
Seek out a wilderness first aid course, visit a local outfitter and find a course on what ever the skill you need training in. It will make you a better out doors person and better leader.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
PS. The two young men in the picture are from my troop camping in January on Mt. Hood.
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