The years leading up to becoming a teenager are important for development.
Facing puberty, hormonal and physical changes, and really learning who they are going to be as a person.
At Waldorf Academy, a Toronto grade 7 alternative school, we believe that camping is important in helping develop young minds at this critical age, and this is why we include camping in our curriculum for this age group.
Winter Camping Can Be A Beautiful Experience
Many people have been camping in the spring, summer, and fall. Especially here in Ontario, we’re fortunate to have access to many gorgeous and peaceful natural areas.
But to go in the winter? In the snow?
This is where many stop short, worried about the cold temperatures, or if they will be preparedenough.
But being outside in nature, without the crowds (and bugs) that you’ll find the rest of the year can be a magical experience.
Watching the snow fall, away from bright city lights, sipping hot chocolate under the stars, and bonding over a shared experience can shift your perspective away from a fear-based mentality toward an understanding of how
Let’s have a look at some tips on how to prep for a winter camping trip.
It’s Not As Hard As You Think
Winter camping takes more preparation than camping the rest of the year.
When you first think of winter camping, you may be imagining stress, pain, and suffering, or at worst, extreme danger.
But with proper preparation you can make it a magical experience.
But It’s Still Not Easy
It might not require as much preparation as say, getting ready to climb Mount Everest, but it still requires preparation.
This includes investing in proper winter gear, knowing how to make a fire when the ground is cold or snow covered, and having an emergency plan should things not go right.
Be Prepared For Winter Camping
Let’s look at a some of the ways you will want to consider preparing for winter camping, to help make the experience go as smoothly as possible.
1. Pack The Right Clothes
Winter camping is one situation where you want to be over-prepared.
If you’re worried about leaving important items behind, make a checklist to be certain you don’t forget anything.
Bring lots of warm layers of clothing, and make sure you have dry clothes to sleep in.
Synthetic fibres are ideal over cotton, and merino wool will keep you warm and trap heat.
Footwear is important as well, especially if you plan on doing any hiking – waterproof boots with good traction will make things much easier.
2. Be Prepared To Sleep Warm
A foam pad under your sleeping pad can help provide added warmth and can double as a seat during the day.
A sleeping bag rated for winter camping is also a must – depending on where you’re planning to camp, look for bags rated for -15°C to -40°C.
Sleeping bag liners and hot water bottles can also provide extra warmth.
3. Bring Easy Meals
Proper nutrition, and staying hydrated are very important for winter camping.
Your body will use more energy to stay warm than camping during the summer, and getting enough calories is crucial.
Bring extra fuel for your camp stove, as you will likely have to melt snow for water, in addition to cooking your food.
Keep your meals simple – cooking and cleaning with mittens on is a tricky endeavor.
4. Be Prepared To Make A Fire In The Snow
Starting a fire in the snow takes a bit more planning and preparation than in the warmer months.
You may not be able to purchase wood for a fire at the site in the off-season, so be sure to plan ahead – and that may involve bringing your own firewood.
Be sure to be prepared with fire starters, wood, paper, and an extra lighter.
Depending on how far your campsite is from the parking area, you may also need a sled to help carry supplies.
5. Other Things You Need
There are lots of other supplies which will help make your winter camping experience much smoother.
A small shovel to help clear snow from your site, a four-seasons tent to keep you protected from the elements, and a tarp in case it rains or snows.
Awareness of your surroundings – ensure you pick a spot which is not underneath any tree branches piled high with snow, is key.
Bring lots of sources of lighting – lanterns, headlamps, and candles – and don’t forget extra batteries, especially as they sometimes drain faster in the cold.
Camp chairs will keep you from having to sit directly in the snow, and water treatment tablets so you can melt snow and drink it, which will also lighten your load.
6. Have An Emergency Plan
Preparedness is always important, but sometimes things don’t always go to plan.
Have an emergency plan, know how to get help if you need it, and make sure someone you can trust knows your travel plans as well.
Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia, how to avoid them, and how to treat them properly.
Always best to be prepared.
The Beauty Of Winter Camping
Once you have everything in place, you’ll notice winter camping can be a spectacular experience, sometimes even better than summer camping.
You’ll notice there are no bugs, and far fewer people – this makes it less crowded than during the summer. Enjoy the solitude, the peaceful environment. You’ll find there are moments where you can actually experience absolute silence, something you could never get outside of a recording studio in the city.
It takes time to comprehend this experience – we’re used to having some sort of sound at every moment, whether it’s the engines of cars going by outside, the hum of your refrigerator, the sloshing of pipes, or the music of a neighbour leaking through the walls. One thing we rarely experience, though, is absolute silence.
Despite that, though, the forest is still very much alive during the winter. Some birds have flown south, but there are a number of different species that stick around. You may spot chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, sparrows, and more.
You might also find these birds’ tracks, or the tracks of other animals that are active during the winter. Use this as a learning experience to teach your children how to track.
Animal tracking can be a great way to exercise your child’s creative faculties. Based on a simple set of prints in the snow, you and your child can discover what kind of animal made the tracks, how quickly they were moving, whether they were chased, where the tracks stopped and why, and more.
These are just some of the ways you can experience the joy of winter camping.
Contact Waldorf Academy
If you want your child to be educated in an environment which promotes the wonder of nature, and will help prepare them for camping in any season, consider Waldorf Academy.
We include camping as part of the curriculum, and perhaps at the end of it your child will be able to teach you a thing or two.