Scout Troop 326, Winter Camp
Above Garden Valley, Idaho
By : Jeff Head
February, 2002

Our Scout Troop met at the home of the father of the senior patrol leader at 9:30 AM outside Emmett, Idaho. My son, Jared was also one of the scouts going on the trip. Marve (the father of the Sr. Patrol Leader) was taking the scouts up to their camp a little early to get a head-start on building their snow shelter(s) and in setting up camp. The Winter Camp for the Payette District of the Ore-Ida Council was to be held about seven miles above Garden Valley, Idaho on the East Fork of the Payette River where a number of Scout Troops from Emmett, Payette, Cascade, and other local Idaho towns would be meeting together

I was not going to come up until a little later in the afternoon, so Marve and the boys, along with Marve's nineteen year old son, Mike, left with all the gear. The Scouit master, Terry and another father were also going to be joining us later that day. In addition, one of our Varsity Scouts, the patrol leader, Robby, was also going. I am an advisor to that Varsity Scout Troop.

The trip up to this Winter Camp is very beautiful and scenic. The pictures make it clear why some of us weather the cold and chose to be up here in this environment, truly a wonderful part of "God's country".

The scenery is beautiful, the snow deep in route to Winter Camp

Panoramic Idaho Mountains along the Payette River

After arriving up at scout camp near sunset, I proceeded to survey the boy's snow shelter. They had decided to build a large igloo as opposed to individual smaller shelter's for each patrol. The snow was extremely crusty on top and very powdery. This made construction difficult as it was hard to cut and stack good snow blocks. Nevertheless a large shelter was constructed and ultimately covered over with a tarp. I decided to sleep next to the boys in a smaller, slit trench snow shelter that I built of my own. Pictures of both of these finished shelters are shown below.

Igloo that housed seven scouts and my own individual snow shelter

Snow shelter construction is one of the key elements of winter survival. It can literally save the life on anyone caught outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. The key is for the shelter to be solid and "tight", to have the "bed" of the shelter higher than the entry (so cold air can flow out) and to have the resulting air temperature inside the shelter remain at, or just below freezing.

After snow shelter construction, we met with all of the other troops for a campfire meeting. Discussions regarding the camp activities, protocal and camp rules were held, then each troop gave a "skit". Some of those were pretty funny ... and all of them were pretty short! Afterwards, chips and salsa were served for all.

Meeting around the campfire, discussions were held, skits presented and then chips & salsa for all.

Then, it was back to the individual troop camps for dinner, any final shelter/camp preparations and then bed. Each patrol in our troop cooked their own dinner and Marve cooked for us adults. He had some wonderfully sauted Elk Steaks and they pretty much melted in our mouths as we ate them! Very delicious! The temperature was in the low teens with a projection for a low temperature of about zero that night.

We retired to our shelters and tenets between 10:15 and 11 PM for the night. We awoke next morning to find that during the night, the temperature, after falling into the single digits just after midnight, had moderated back into the teens. Everyone slept very comfortably ... in fact, in my shelter I had been too warm and had unzipped both my insulated coveralls and my sleeping bag to allow cooler air to keep me from sweating. Any moisture, either from sweat or from a too warm shelter is highly uncomfortable in cold weather, and can turn life threatening. As a result of my experience, I was up around 5 AM to walk a couple of miles, survey the surrounding terrain, stoke our camp fire, and wait for the others to awaken.

The boys began to awaken, talk and move around ar about 6:30 AM and were quickly ready for the 8 AM camp meeting and the presentation of the colors.

Jared outside the igloo and myself, with the snow shelters in the background.

After colors were presented, it was back for breakfast.

Again each patrol cooked for themselves ranging from bacon to sausage and eggs and hash browns. Terry had brought some sauted meat for breakfast which was mixed with eggs and cheese to make a great omlet for us adult leaders. Again, very delicious on a cold morning!

After breakfast, it was time for the instructional part of the camp. One of the principle reasons for holding a Winter Camp(oree) is to insure that the boys get good instruction in various aspects of winter and mountain survival. Four "courses" were held, taught by the local Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue team and by local adults and scout leaders. These included instruction on snow shelter construction techniques, snow camping preparedness, signaling and fir building. Both instructional and hands-on involvement are emphasized.

Search and Rescue teach snowshelter building while Seth helps hollow out a snow cave.

Jared, Seth, Daniel and Robby all get hands on experience in snow shelter construction techniques.

Chris, Jordan and Trevor all working on snow shelter construction technique (Trevor know you need plenty of liquids to hold up).

Scouts learn about preparedness, fire building and signaling.

Following the excellent course work, it was time for lunch. Steaming hot chili with chips was served to all in attendance.

Then, one of the highlights for the Camp was held .... the annual "Klondike". The troops had all built sleds for the event and they were to be pulled by the boys themselves acting as the sled "team". Usually the lightest scout sits in the sled while the others use ropes to pull the sled around a set-out course up to 1/2 mile in length. Fastest sled around the course wins.

It is always interesting to see the various designs the different troops come up with. Some are built very sturdily, realizing that the sled has to hold up against the rigors of the course ... some are built extremely light, in the hopes that the resulting speed can result in a win, as long as the sled holds together.

This year we had everything from your tradiotional wooden sled designs, to a simple lawn chair bolted to two ski's, to a store-bought plastic sled. In the end, the store-bought plastic sled, coupled with the older ages of the boys in that particular troop, led to a victory for them. The snow was crusty and difficult to "pack" and the boys kept breaking through, which worked hard on their stamina. The older, more physically developed boys definitely had the edge over our mainly 12 and 13 year olds. Our boys were disappointed, but not disheartened.

You see, the major competition for the camp is the "overall" scout judging and those results were yet to be announced. While the boys were being instructed and were involed in the Klondije "race", judges were observing their attentiveness, their attitude, their scouting spirit and checking out each of their camps. inspecting them. In this, the principle competition, Troop 326 was not to be denied. They brought home the coveted Blue Ribbon, signifying First Place. Such an outcome more than made up for the lost Klondike and warmed the heart and spirit of our team as we returned home through our beautiful Idaho mountain scenery.

More beautiful Idaho scenery and some honored "guests" a little ways down the road.


2001 Varsity Float Trip .......... 2003 Wilderness Camp