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thing you do or something you forgot at home. “If you’re comfortable


outdoors when it’s negative 20 degrees, well then you’re prepared for pretty much any- thing in life,” he tells the room with a serious nod of his chin. And then Kelly smiles. He


looks to Varcho, who stands and says, “It’s a dog’s life, really. When’s the last time you got a lotta sleep and ate a whole lotta food during a campout?” he laughs. “That’s what winter camping is about: You go places and see things that others miss out on ’cause they’re busy staying inside keeping warm.” Yet this group doesn’t


need to be sold on staying out in the freezing tem- peratures. Dressed in layers of fleece and topped with wool hats, the adults and teens sit hungry for knowledge. Here, they’ll learn Arctic-approved skills in the harsh Minnesota landscape, but they’ll also pick up on a bigger lesson passed down from generation to generation of Northern


When the temperature drops, the fun begins at Northern Tier’s Okpik Cold Weather Leader Training. Newly learned winter-camping skills include hiking while pulling gear sleds (previ- ous spread) and building sleeping structures on frozen Flash Lake, among other valuable lessons. Scouts from Olathe, Kan.—including (clockwise from left) Braden Anderson and Josiah Murphy, both Life Scouts from Troop 225—settle into their new pad: a wind- break shelter. Other Troop 225 Scouts seek refuge from the cold in a Polar Dome. Adam Reitelbach, a Virginia Eagle Scout volunteer (and former Northern Tier summer staffer), hollows out the center of a quinzee. Similar construction methods—using a shovel and plenty of muscle—are required when building a Polar Dome, as demon- strated by Kansas Scout Drew Mitchell.


Tier-trained cold-weather campers: a positive attitude for icy adventures.


BACK ON THE ICE, growling stomachs remind the pink- cheeked hikers that in cold conditions like today— especially during exercise— the human body burns up a great deal of fuel, requiring upward of 4,000 calories to keep going. This means it’s time for Northern Tier’s infamous on-the-go lunch specialty: Hudson Bay bread. (See recipe at right.) This inch- thick, nutrient-filled granola square satiates the team— especially when they slather it with jelly or peanut butter. And, after lunch is con-


sumed, it’s time to work up some heat again. While it seems puzzling that the group would choose an icy surface for their base, camping on frozen lakes is preferred because the temperature of the ice remains 32 degrees— an important fact when the temperature of the air (and ground) can dip far below zero, making camping on land significantly colder. Plus, a campsite on a frozen lake easily meets Leave No Trace goals because evidence of an overnight stay (including footprints, snow-shelters, and more) melts away when the mercury rises. To help reduce the weight


of the group on the ice, the Okpik crew—throwing on an extra layer of clothing—splits into two separate camps a quarter-mile apart. The first challenge of the day is build- ing snow shelters for tonight’s slumber under the stars. Over at “Camp Kansas”—


HUNGRY? TRY HUDSON BAY BREAD 1½ lbs. margarine or butter 4 cups sugar 2/3 cups Karo syrup 2/3 cups honey 2 tsp. maple syrup


Cream together the above ingredients. Add the following while mixing: 1½ cups ground nuts (if no allergies) 19 cups of quick-cooking oatmeal


Spread and press down in a sheet pan, 18 inches by 26 inches. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes. Press down bread as soon as it is pulled out of oven—this keeps it from crumbling. Cut while warm.


Makes approximately 42 individual servings—great for a hungry troop.


home to seven Midwestern Life Scouts, their three leaders, Varcho, and an additional Okpik guide—Polar Domes are the shelter of choice. These structures, which appear similar to an igloo, require nearly two hours of shoveling and carving snow. Digging, shoveling, lifting,


scooping—the Scouts quickly work up a sweat. Layers of clothing lie discarded on the sleds. The group wrestles with a Polar Dome tarp that helps shape the mound of snow into a tidy arch. Suddenly, one flap of the tarp falls open, splashing snow back onto the ice. “Well, they didn’t show that in the video,” says leader Dean Meier, recalling the ease with which their training video demonstrated the Polar Dome construction. In real life, it proves tougher than they anticipated. Stan Mitchell, the assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 225, looks over from the second Polar Dome. His son’s energy


Adding to the Okpik camping experience, the Northern Tier dog-sled teams bring extra enthusiasm to the winter-camping program by giving visitors a ride around Flash Lake.


NOVEMBER•DECEMBER 2012 ¿ S COUTING 33


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