Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PAD30 Winter Camp Reflection - Spencer Knowles - March 2014

PAD3O Winter Camp Reflection

Spencer Knowles – March 2014


This year’s winter camp was a great success for me, my group and overall, I think everybody had an enjoyable experience. 

Improvements Over Last Year

There were three things that were improved upon over last year that had a positive effect on my experience.  First of all, I had a very large group comprised of 11 people (five on the first night, six on the second night), compared to last year when I had only three people and on the sleepover night, one of the three group members was sick.  This larger group allowed us to finish the Quinzhee ahead of time, leaving us with less worries on the actual night of the sleepover compared to last year when we were still digging the Quinzhee on the night of the sleepover.  This extra time also allowed for a better Quinzhee and better planning of meals, sleeping arrangements, adequate firewood, etc. 

 Secondly, our platform and cold sink were constructed much better this year.  In Grade 10, our platform was slanted and during the middle of the night we would slowly slide on the tarp towards the entrance and it was surprising irritating.  This year, our platform was flat and our cold sink was better built as it actually fulfilled its purpose and kept more heat in that last year’s cold sink.  The improvement to the cold sink was that our tunnel was on a steeper angle and the platform didn’t just shape with the tunnel, it was actually on its own level. 

Thirdly, our sleeping arrangements were far better planned than the previous year.  With the extra time that we had this year, we were able to plan our sleeping arrangements a day ahead of time.  This allowed us to decide how we were going to position ourselves inside the Quinzhee for sleeping before actually going inside it.  Also, we remembered from the previous year that the tarp slides around a lot on the snow inside the Quinzhee, so we used pegs to secure the tarp to the platform in our Quinzhee to make for a more comfortable sleep.  By 6:00 p.m., the night of the sleepover, our mats, sleeping bag and tarp were all in place, allowing us to enjoy the activities of the evening without concern.  This also allowed for a better sleep than the previous year.


Two Things I Would Improve Upon

Upon reflection, we could have definitely improved our selection of food items and our dinner menu.  Although we had enough food, it probably wasn’t the best choice of food we could have made.  We choose fast and easy food which was definitely was not as nutritious as it could have been.  I think for next time, we should try an actual recipe and plan farther ahead when making our menu.  We had too many carbohydrates (macaroni, bread, potato chips) and not enough variety throughout the five food groups.  We would have benefitted from some fruits and protein.

Other than the food, there wasn’t really anything else that I think required improvement.  We all worked well as a group and got things done as a team.  Other than talking about another thing that we could have improved upon, I will emphasis something that we did well.  As we were aware that the weather was going to be bad overnight – freezing rain, snow and rain – we took precautions and brought all of our belongings inside the Quinzhee to avoid damage to it overnight.  Because of this, we avoided wet clothes and avoided losing any equipment that could have been buried in the snow.  Also, we always had enough firewood and made sure that someone was constantly tending the fire.  These actions resulted in a very enjoyable and comfortable sleepover.


Five Recommendations for Someone Building and Sleeping in a Quinzhee for the First Time


Now that I have done Winter Camp for the past two years, I have several recommendations for someone doing this for their first time. 

  1. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to pile the snow and dig out your Quinzhee.  This process can take quite a long time depending on your group size and snow conditions.  Try and plan to finish making the Quinzhee at least a day in advance of the sleepover so that you have time to set up and plan for the actual sleepover. 
  2. Make sure you always have enough firewood because in these cold conditions you want to be able to sustain the warmth of a fire for a decent amount of time.  Collect firewood well in advance and when you think you have enough, triple it, because remember – fire is also needed to cook your food. 
  3. Plan your meal and snacks to try to include the five food groups and consult with your group before making any decisions.  Ask everyone if they have any allergies, dislikes or preferences.  Also make sure you bring enough to drink.  It is a good idea to bring a drink that can give you energy because having energy is necessary when you are hard at work or having fun.   
  4. Understand and research the proper construction of a Quinzhee and the importance of a well-built cold sink and raised platform.  Understanding these things will allow for a warmer and more enjoyable sleep.
  5. Stay organized and be prepared.  Your camping area can get very unorganized very quickly, so constantly be aware and keep it clean because if you don’t it can be a big mess to clean up before you go to sleep.  Be aware of the weather and bring any items that could get damaged inside the Quinzhee at bedtime.  Be prepared by bringing candles and comfort items for an enjoyable night and make sure your sleeping area is prepared well in advance. 

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