Boy Scouts embrace outdoors, go camping

MORRIS – Many people have holed up inside the house this winter, one of the coldest and snowiest on record.

Boys and adults from Boy Scout Troop 459 of Godley have taken the opposite tact.

The group embraced the outdoors and camped outside Saturday night. The group camped in about 18 inches of snow at Rainbow Council Scout Reservation in Morris with the temperature averaging about 8 degrees.

It was warmer Sunday when they woke, with the temperature averaging in the mid-teens.

Harry McDaniels, 18, and a graduated Eagle Scout from the troop, said he’d never camped in snow up to the top level of his boots before.

“When I walk there’s not much traction. [It’s] like walking in the sand,” he said.

The group actually had to dig down to create a walkable surface in their campsite. They hauled their equipment from their parked trailer to the camp via sled.

The group divided the early tasks into shoveling, equipment hauling and finding wood.  The hardest was finding wood because any usable wood on the ground was piled with snow.

Scoutmaster Tom McDaniels of Gardner gave a one word summary to why they camp in this extreme weather.  

“Responsibility,” he said.  

The boys learn their actions have consequences, he said Sunday. The night before during supper clean up, the boys were charged with heating water to wash dishes, but the boys got distracted and they walked away from the hot dishwater. It turned lukewarm, McDaniels said, and they had to go back and reheat it. They did it twice

“You don’t want to see your son struggle,” he said, “But I’d rather have them learn here, rather than in the real world where you possibly don’t have any support.”

New Boy Scout Ben Howell, 10, said he was having a good time. He said there was more snow than the time in December when he had camped with the troop as a Webelo Scout. His hat and gloves got wet, but he left them by the fire to warm up.

Getting and keeping the fire going was the main task of the group. They started with a huge amount of wood when they finally found a downed tree in the snow, but the fire was slow going at first. Perhaps, one adult suggested, it was because of dampness or ice in the downed wood they used. 

John Cookingham, troop committee member, said once the fire got going it was a great fire. It was going great by the time they were ready to crawl into their tents.

Cookingham said he was so comfortable in his lean-to shelter that was piled high outside with snow as insulation, that he hardly wanted to get up in the morning to add more wood to the fire.