Last Friday I spent five hours teaching boy scouts about winter gear choices. After asking each of five different classes what they liked to do outside in Idaho Snow, they said, "Skiing and snowboarding, hunting, hiking and snowmobiling."
Sense they were up at camp on an overnighter, building snowforts as their overnight shelter, I asked if they liked overnight backpacking trips. Dumbfounded looks followed.
"How about road trips, like over the pass up to see Grandma.?"
More baffled expressions.
Next we divided the class into subgroups who had four minutes to come up with a gear list/packing list for their adventure.
Spread on three conference tables was gear of all kinds, including 'tricks.'
Once the gear lists were finished, I let them 'tag' their choices on the table.
I was pretty surprised by the conversations that ensued as we devolved into erroneous selections.
Some of the most memorable include:
Several classes chose apples and carrot sticks over ramen and candy bars, even though they realized food was their fuel. So, I asked the class, "How much does an apple weigh?"
"Half a pound?" "Ten ounces?" several volunteered time and again.
"How many calories?" I asked.
"Fifty?" was the general consensus.
"How about Ramen....it weighs three ounces, how many calories?"
No one seemed to realize that one package of ramen had 380 calories and could be eaten like pretzels, raw and these calories would keep them warm or that protein took longer to digest and kept them warmer that fruits and veggies.
Nearly all chose the extra heavy, full bore Columbia Zero degree jacket over various layers. Once I asked them, "What happens when you're skiing?"
"You warm up, you might sweat."
"Problem with a huge jacket like this is its either on or off, or maybe you could unzip it. But layers allow many choices, which end up weighing the same as one huge overcoat."
Many forgot to chose one of several sleeping pads on display, though they elected to carry a 9 pound four season tent over a tarp or single wall. Few considered labels when selecting which pants. And surprisingly, though they chose a sleeping bag, nearly no one selected a spare set of clothes to change into for sleepwear.
After the sessions were over and I asked a young man what he expected his night in the snow cave to be like. Cold and Wet he replied. I frowned, Why wet?
Turns out, he didn't have anything to change into and after digging the cave, just figured to endure the night, or come into the huge dining hall and hunker down, with his friends by the fire.
Clearly much more time is needed for instructing winter survival skills than the 45 minutes allotted.
Nearly all realized how scanty cell service is in those unforgiving mountains and were warned not to go anywhere alone because both cougars and wolves had been seen right down the road.
But, I love the boy scout concept of gathering youngsters to usher them into the wonders of the great outdoors. Only time and luck will prove whether we've done a good job or made a significant impression.
The main goal of course is to survive without injury. Happy Trails, young men, and eat hearty.