Wintercamp this year was exceptionally better than last year. Last year, I had no idea what to expect and I definitely was not prepared enough as i could have been. This year, I had bigger expectations for my group and myself since we did not do as well as i had hoped last year and I had a completely different mindset. Although my group and I have certainly improved, we did encounter challenges along the way.
One thing I would like to improve for next time is overall communication. Like we had done the year before, we asked another group with the same amount of members to help build a quinzhee to share so that one group would sleep over one night and the other would sleep over the following day. There were issues with communication with the other group which made everyone confused and tense. For example, there was a line between our group member’s names and the other group to show that we were sharing the same quinzhee, but the other group thought that meant we were switching nights so they showed up with their gear on the night we were originally going to camp out. Unfortunately they had to sleep in another quinzhee. The second important thing i would want to improve on for the next time is the menu planning. I think that after each Outdoor Ed trip my group and i get better and better at planning our meals, but we still haven’t made a meal that is really healthy and includes all the food groups. For dinner we had cheese quesadillas and beef and cheese ravioli which was filling but excluded vegetables which was similar to the meal we had last year which was pasta and hotdogs. For the next time I would plan a meal with more veggies like red and green peppers or mushrooms.
The one thing I was most dreading about this year’s wintercamp was the actual sleeping part of the trip. Last year, Julia and I had to pick another quinzhee the day of to dig out so we could sleep in it since there was a last minute mix up with another person and there was not enough room in the quinzhee we had built. The entrance to mine and Julia’s new quinzhee was way too long and small with little to no platform so we were cold the entire night. Inside, we were squished together and I was sleeping against the wall which made my sleeping bag and pillow wet. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep at all that night. This year I was able to sleep in the quinzhee I was supposed to and we built the quinzhee incredibly well. We knew that we had to pile up a lot of snow since there were 6 members in our group and we would need a lot of room, so we used our class time wisely and worked efficiently to make a huge pile on a hill which made it easier to make the platform and so we wouldn’t have to make it so big. Everyone worked really well and no one from our group slacked off. At night I was worried about going to sleep but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be. At first there were only three of us in the quinzhee, so as i got into my sleeping bag it was a bit cold, but after everyone was inside i started to warm up. I tried to use my hot-pocket warmers for my feet but it turns out that they were expired and i was really upset. The only part of my body that was cold during the night was my face since i couldn’t breathe if i put my head inside my sleeping bag. A big reason I stayed warm was because we were all very close together. At the time we were making our quinzhee, we thought it was going to be really big and have plenty of room to spare, but when we added all of our sleeping bags, pillows, and gear we realized it was more cramped than we had expected. Overall, I slept better, had a better built quinzhee, and stayed warm for most of the time compared to last year.
I believe that the most important recommendation i could make to a first year winter-camper is to dress warmly and check if you have a nice and warm sleeping bag while making sure you don’t get your sleeping gear wet. There is nothing worse than getting your clothes or sleeping bag wet because you’ll either have to go warm your stuff up by a fire or not sleep at all because you’ll be so frozen. Another tip for keeping warm at night is to make certain that your quinzhee is well built with a good platform so the cold wind doesn’t come in. Building on a hill is also a good idea because you wouldn’t have to build the platform as big. You could also build pillars or keep a wall in the quinzhee if you built it too big. An extra suggestion would be to bring candles since it lights up the quinzhee and adds a little bit of heat. The next important thing is to ensure that you make a proper meal plan that has all the food groups, is not difficult to make, and fills you up because it’s important for digestion which helps keeps you warm at night when you go to sleep. In addition, collecting a lot of firewood is very necessary because if you want a fire to be going all night you’ll need a lot and you will undeniably run out of wood very quickly.
All in all, this trip was so much better than last year’s wintercamp because i actually got to sleep and I was very warm at night. I had a lot of fun and the next day at school was not as tough as i thought it would be. Our dinner probably could have been healthier, but it still tasted awesome. I had a great time and i am glad i was apart of wintercamp this year.