To camp or to not to Camp

If you read the news, you already know that the weather has been bitterly cold again in the mid west. Today seems to be the worst for Kansas. I woke up to the weather at 1 degree and by the time I finished my coffee it is up to two. Brrrrrrr.

I am truly thankful that they decided to cancel this weekends camp out. 2.5 hours away, uber cold with probable snow on the way during the drive home on Sunday. Invariable there are people that are super happy, and there will always be a couple that gripe. To the grippers, I say . . . and your point is???? At some point, the decision changes from yes we can camp in all weather, to do we have the A Team support to make it all go. IE do you have all the adults you need to ensure the camp out is safe for kids (and newer adults).

Beyond the adult support, I mostly worry about gear. Remember I’ve been camping September thru May for over eight years now. During that time I know what technical gear to get in the car. For newer parents that have not done that, they and their kids show up with out proper layers, thin 40 degree bags and wonder why they are so miserable.

Case in point, I remember picking up my eldest at a freezing February campout. This was his 2nd year in scouts. I had to boost him into the jeep because his hands wouldn’t grip the pull up bar. I already had replacement clothing items in the car, an always just incase policy, but thank goodness I did that time. He was beyond chattering and had slurred words. He had little muscle control and I had to get his hands arms and legs out and back into the clothing holes like he was a baby again. I had the heat up, got fluids in him and I got him warm and pink again. But honestly, I was ready to go straight to St Joseph’s. No, I don’t think the adults did anything wrong at the campout. Yes,I do think that he tipped the scale from fine to not in just a matter of minutes that morning. It happens that quickly.

I am glad I recognized the signs of hypothermia. I know others that still do not. I am always looking at people, assessing them. I see the little physical changes often before others do. Usually, it is the very small sign that says “this isn’t normal”. I Start asking questions immediately. The first couple minutes of noticing there is something “off” is the difference of having a conscious patient and an unconscious one. Triage in practice situations. “What would you do if . . . ?”

So YEAH to the team that pulled the plug. I’d rather a few get grumpy, then loose some families because their experience was horrible or kids / adults got hypothermic. Period.

Winter camping pointers.
*Yes, you really do need a zero degree bag. Buy the best you can, all zero’s are not created equal.
*Use the smallest tent you can. Less space to heat. Where possible tent with other body. Two or more bodies heat a space more efficiently than one.
*You need an excellent thermal rated sleeping pad. Otherwise the ground will suck the living heat right out of you
*no matter how little activity you did during the day! you MUST change your clothes before bed to appropriate thermals. You have expelled more moisture & sweat than you realize during the day.
*don’t sleep with tomorrow’s clothes in your sleeping bag. You will sweat overnight and your clothes will actually be damp and make y chipping in the morning. Instead, just pull them in first thing in the morning to warm them up.
*liners!!!! Where glove liners and double socks. This extra insulation keeps your extremities comfortable and working.
*WEAR YOUR HAT!!! You loose a ton of heat out of the top of your head.

Most important – DRINK WATER!!!!!!
Any outdoor activity takes water out of your body. PUT IT BACK REGULARLY!!!! That head ache you may feel or the muscle cramps is your body telling you “hey Dumas, you are dehydrated!!!! Drink water now!!!”


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