Our FNE Explorers group, North Star FNE, recently had its first winter camp. (You can read about it here, or at least see a bunch of pictures.) Since I was responsible for planning the weekend’s Timber Wolf program, I would like to offer a few personal reflections.
Everything came together nicely, and I can say without false humility that that would not have been the case if it weren’t for my brother leaders. Planning food, activities, and two nights’ campfires is probably too much for any one person. Thankfully, we each have our strengths and weaknesses; some people are better at putting together a campfire program, while others are better at shopping for and cooking food for 25 (it’s only when our youth reach the Explorer level and are working as a patrol that we expect them to shop and cook for themselves, though we do like to introduce our Timber Wolves to some of the basics of campfire cooking, setting up a camp kitchen, etc.).
A fireplace can be a good substitute for a campfire. If we had had a smaller group with us, we could have had a fire outside and stayed (relatively) warm – it was a cold weekend! – as it was, with the larger group, we sat around the fireplace and did the same songs, skits, and cheers we would have done outside. And we cooked 48 hot dogs in the fireplace as well! (Pro-tip: put 24 hot dogs in a disposable foil tray, cover with heavy duty foil, place on the embers of the fire, with additional embers on top, and the hot dogs will be done in 15-20 minutes.)
Since I was in charge of the Timber Wolf program, I did not make it over to the Explorer camp to see how they were doing, but they seemed to deal with the cold pretty well and overcome a lot of the hardships associated with camping in such weather (such as needing three hours to cook breakfast outside on Saturday morning).
Camping over Super Bowl weekend is a good way to ensure that you have a park almost entirely to yourself.
Last, this list would not be complete without a shout out to our brothers in West Virginia, Our Lady of the Annunciation FNE, who traveled four hours each way in the bitter cold (with snow threatening on the ride home) to share camp with us.