Ready to Camp in the Cold?

Winter camping can be a challenge, but we are here to tell you that winter camping can be fun for any age Girl Scout! When getting ready for your Winter Camping Adventure, it is important to remember the first step of Leave No Trace: plan ahead and prepare!  

Winter Camping Shelters 

  1. Quinzhee – Snow Shelters! 
    • A quinzhee is a snow cave, constructed from hollowed-out piles of snow.  
    • These winter shelters originate from the indigenous people of North America.  
    • Snow can be a great insulator and these shelters keep in heat and block the wind! 
    • See here for how your troop can make a – Quinzhee!  
  1. Tent 
    • Keep in mind the weather when choosing your tent!  
    • If the weather is cold, but little wind, then most tents work. 
    • If you will be camping during a snowstorm or blizzard, you will want a ‘four-season’ winter tent. 
  1. Indoor Camping: Cabin/Yurt 
    • Cabin or Yurt camping is the best choice for younger Girl Scouts (Daisy-Junior) or new campers as indoor camping provides a warm, snowless place to sleep. 
    • Check out your local and State Parks for indoor camping options!  
    • GSHPA properties also have a variety of options for winter camping at our four properties. 
    • Interested in renting out a GSHPA camp property? Click here! 

What to Pack:  

Before you set out on your camping trip, you need to prepare your supplies! The National Park Service lists the following “Ten Essential Items” recommended for all weather camping:   

Ten Essentials:

  1. Navigation 
  2. Sun Protection 
  3. Insulation 
  4. Illumination 
  5. First-Aid 
  6. Fire 
  7. Repair Kit/Tools 
  8. Nutrition 
  9. Hydration 
  10. Shelter 

When planning a winter camping adventure you will need a few additional items!  

  • Sleeping in the Cold 
  • Bring two sleeping bags or one sleeping bag specifically made for cold weather 
  • Down or synthetic sleeping bags work fine, but must be stored in a dry place to be most effective.  
  • Cold weather sleeping bags are insulated and reflect your body heat. 
  • Bring at least two sleeping pads 
  • Don’t be afraid to test your sleep system to ensure it is warm enough! We recommend trying it out in your backyard first! 
  • Additional items can be found by clicking here! 

What to Wear: 

  • Layers! 
    • When preparing for winter activities, layers are essential!  
      1. Base Layer 
        • This layer is should be tight to the body and quick to dry.  
        • It is important to avoid cotton in cold temperatures, as this absorbs moisture, like sweat, and it will not dry quickly! 
        • Nylon, wool, and polyesters are the best options!  
      2. Middle Layer 
        • A good option for the second layer is a lighter jacket, sweatshirt, or fleece.  
        • Remember, avoid cotton! 
      3. Outer Layer 
        • Your last layer will ultimately depend on the weather and outdoor conditions.  
        • Typically a waterproof jacket or insulated puffy jacket is best! 
        • And remember that insulation is important – it must protect you from the wind and precipitation in addition to keep you warm!  
  • Stay DRY! 
    • Keeping dry is essential!  
      • Wet and cold makes for cranky campers! So pack extra layers! 
    • Remember that a Girl Scout is always prepared. It is better to pack too many layers and not utilize them all, than to realize you do not have enough on hand.  
    • When you are done playing in the snow, make sure to change out of any wet clothes immediately and hang them to dry! 

Cooking and Fueling Your Body for the Cold 

Your body burns more calories than normal when trying to keep warm. You need to double your normal calorie intake when winter camping. 

  • We recommend foods high in carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  
    • And you should eat often!  
  • During winter activities, keep snacks with you to keep your body fueled and warm! 

Remember to stay hydrated too! We don’t always feel thirsty in the cold, but you can very easily become dehydrated on a cold day.  

  • Always keep at least one full water bottle nearby and drink water regularly.  
  • Insulated water bottles recommended! 
  • And include warm drink options 
  • Teas and hot chocolate, are great options to drink when campers come in from the cold! 

Benefits to Winter Camping  

  • Winter camping is a unique experience and provides several exclusive activities for you to try! 
    • Winter Hiking  
    • Winter Scavenger hunts  
    • Snowshoeing 
    • Cross Country Skiing 
    • Down Hill Skiing  
    • Sledding  
    • Winter Shelter Building 

Winter camping can be a great new adventure for you! Remember, you can always make changes based on your group’s needs, safety, and comfort. It’s all about having a positive outdoor experience! Enjoy your winter camping!  

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