There’s nothing quite like March in Canada – cold enough to qualify as winter camping, but often with no snow on the ground. That didn’t stop the group of Ontario Guiders I guided on an overnight trek into the woods as part of a winter camp adventure training. We all came together united by our love of the outdoors and a desire to share with girls the same enthusiasm and confidence for adventure.
While learning about camp theory is great, this weekend was all about getting immersed in a true winter camping experience. We met at Camp Ademac near Port Perry, Ontario, Friday evening. Although we had a heated building for a base and emergencies, we were set up outdoors until Sunday morning. Friday night was learning about each other and the gear. In true Guiding fashion we all became great friends and a fantastic team very quickly! As one of the trainers, my job was to help the Guiders learn skills in a safe environment. This became very easy as everyone set about immediately helping and looking out for each other.
We went for a short walk to warm-up and continue to get to know one another. Many lessons were learned Friday night: ways to keep warm; how much more difficult camp skills were in the cold and while wearing bulky gear; how much better warm drinks such as friendship tea taste when you only have a small stove and limited water. It was cold Friday night, -10 C °, and gear was adjusted Saturday morning in preparation for our trek and second overnight.
Heavy gear was tied to sleds – a new skill to many and it drove home the importance of knowing your knots. Fortunately we had long grass for most of the short trek to our wilderness site nestled in a lovely red pine forest grove. Setting up tents in the bush required some clever engineering, more critical knots and some patience as we had neither snow nor soft ground to peg the tents. (That’s where the trees in the grove came in handy!) Our focus turned to keeping warm and cooking dinner – camp stew two ways, from dehydrated on a camp stove and in a Dutch oven in the fire. Keeping warm also consisted of singing lots of action songs, taking short hikes, and gathering and sawing firewood.
Sunday dawned an hour early with the time change and we were off back to base. The camaraderie and Guiding spirit made this a rich weekend for all – for learning, for gaining the confidence to share new skills with girls, and the excitement to get out there and do this again soon. What makes leading these adventure training weekends so rewarding is knowing that for every participating Guider, there is now a group of girls who will have more camping adventures.
Guest post by Carol Law, a lifelong GGC member in Newmarket, Ontario. A trainer and Safe Guide assessor, Carol has surpassed her personal milestone of 400 camping nights in 10 years.