Activities & Recreation
Winter Activity Hints:
"Snow Snake" Contest: make a track through fresh snow with a vehicle. The track can have gentle bends, but no sharp turns. Let the track freeze overnight. Sprinkling it with water will improve it. Cut the handles from old brooms to make "snow snakes" They can be painted or carved to identify to whom they belong. The object is to see how far along the track Scouts can slide their snow snakes. The track can be further improved by erecting a ramp or using a pipe to channel the snakes at the starting end. A variation of the contest is to build a second ramp at the far end so that the snakes are thrust upward. The idea is to make them stick in the snow when they come down.
Search for the "Abominable Snowman:" cut two large foot prints out of exterior plywood. Strap on these "feet" and tramp through the snow, backtracking and walking over ice to add to the challenge. End the course near a warm-up hut or cabin and have a hot drink. Those who establish the course may want to erect a huge snowman at the end of the course. See Also: Dan Beard's "Big Foot!" and Animal Tracking Game.
Rustic Furniture Building: good indoor work for winter evening. Or, out of doors build a rustic seat at some beauty spot.
Broom Hockey: play hockey on a lake or pond using brooms for hockey sticks and a tennis ball for a puck.
Make Winter Equipment: snow goggles from cardboard, clothing using patterns. Klondike derby sleds, ice awls (a self-rescue device for pulling oneself out of the water onto the ice), snow shovel, snow knife, snowshoes, sleeping bags, etc.
Seal Race: scouts slide on belly over ice, perhaps using ice awls to go faster. Self-rescue techniques can also be demonstrated using ice awls to extricate oneself from a hole in the ice.
Water Machine Contest: a water machine is simply a old burlap bag or other porous material (tarp). Gather snow in the bag or on a tarp, gather the top or the corners and tie off the too. Then hang the bag or tarp with the snow in it near a fire. Put a pot or No. 10 can below to catch. Have Scouts start from scratch by gathering wood and building a tire as well as gathering snow. This promotes teamwork and gives everyone in the Patrol something to do. The first patrol to "make" a quart (or gallon) of water wins. The water machine is also an excellent technique for maintaining a continual water supply while winter camping.
Build Snow Shelters: build different types of snow shelters.
Establish a Snow Slide: be sure it is clean of hazardous rocks, logs, stumps, trees, etc. Use inner tubes, o ld garbage can lids, Frisbees, or even cardboard to slide on.
Try Ice Fishing: be sure everyone is properly clothed for this one. A nearby warm-up hut is good for boosting morale.
Make Snow Ice Cream Using Pet Milk, Sugar, and Vanilla: experiment until you find a recipe with suitable proportions. Reserve this activity for day outings since you may create hypothermia victims on extended treks.
Observe, Identify, and Follow Animal Tracks: with no leaves on the trees or other vegetation, winter is a great time for observing wildlife.
Snow Golf: the same as miniature golf, except that the fairways are snow covered and the greens are packed down areas with a tin can buried in the snow for the hole. The golf balls are hockey pucks hit with old golf clubs.
Snow Tug of War: "tug of war" with a wall of snow between the two teams is a smashing success. Be sure the wall is not frozen solidly and put the biggest Scouts nearest the wall.
Learn the Basics of Winter Photography: sponsor a winter photography contest by Patrols or individuals.
Study the Ecology of Snow Country in the Winter Season: flora, fauna, and weather forecasting.
Teach Scouts how to identify trees in winter.
Cold-Weather First Aid: learn symptoms, treatment, and methods of preventing cold weather injuries including hypothermia, immersion foot, frostbite, and snow blindness. Practice evaluation and rescue techniques.
Team Weight Pulling: load a toboggan or sled with a certain number of cinder blocks and see which Patrol can cover a specific course in the shortest time. Hold playoffs among the winners until one undefeated champion team remains, or you have managed to destroy the sled.
Learn Ice-Rescue Techniques: self-rescue, chain rescue, board rescue, ladder rescue, rope rescue, pole self-rescue.
Identify Constellations and Other Stars: crisp, clear winter nights are unsurpassed for star gazing. Also watch for the aurora borealis, commonly known as the "northern lights." Their shifting patterns and colors are a memorable phenomenon.
Photography: study light with and without snow. Winter photography is a fascinating hobby.
Maple Sugar Making: a sweet project for early spring. Sell to benefit a good cause.
Gathering Nuts: harvesting the nut crop suggests itself as a highly appropriate activity for a one-day camp. The camp-fire will then be placed near or in a grove of nut trees. Sacks to hold the crop and, perhaps, a trek cart to facilitate transporting it back to town are desirable. These, however, will be no perceptible burden on the way out. Nuts will form part of the menu for the day, thus relieving somewhat the weight of materials to be brought. The work itself can scarcely be termed hard labor. In fact, it is usually regarded rather in the light of a sport. There is just enough expenditure of energy required to whet the appetite and make the hearty food better relished.
Husking Bees: an autumn project. Great fields of corn shocks stand ready for the hands of the husker. The "husking bee" is an historic and popular method of making work pleasurable and fun profitable. It will constitute the major part of the program of many corn belt Troops on Saturday hikes.
Wood Chopping: the wood you chop warms you twice.
Exploring: no phase of Scoutcraft can better form motive for a long hike than exploring the Woods in Winter. Exploring (and mapping) a given tract of woodland will prove rich in all around Scout training. It will furnish instruction, recreation and exercise. It will involve not only technical practice in surveying and map-making but also cooking, camping and woodcraft in general. The instructive side will be interesting in itself and one may rest assured that the games, stunts and story-telling contests around the campfire will have unusual energy.
Advancement: with the exception of Swimming, all the Scout Requirements can be carried on in winter: some even more satisfactorily than in summer, and all with profit. Indeed, except that snow and ice may offer special features in some localities, the winter hike and camp program does not differ fundamentally from that of summer. The Scoutmaster, with his Patrol Leaders, should build a program that will enable the Scouts to advance a rank or two during the months from October to April.
Sledding Without Sleds: use those jumbo size black garbage sacks with what look like "shoulder loops" (actually, handles). Anthony Hitchings.
Owl Prowl: night hike out, sit quietly, and have someone do a good (not cartoon) owl call. On clear nights you can hear them return their calls and they will come to you if you are extremely quiet. It's a hoot! End the evening with a campfire and lots of hot chocolate.
Winter Constellations Hike: I used to do this back in the Pacific Northwest with Horned Owls, and have done it out here in SC with both Horned and Barred owls. Pretty cool, best one was when I got a Barred owl to light in the tree right next to me. You do not have to go far out in the woods (though my neighbors do look askance at me), as owls are pretty urban (Lorie "Crazy as a Hoot Owl" McGraw, Columbia SC).
Patrol Animals Snow Sculpture Contest: The actual carving of statuary is another fascinating pastime.
Scouter Snowman Contest: Carve your favorite old geezer in snow!
Building a Snow Fort or a Snow House: calls for practice in construction methods as does an igloo. Fancy drills and letters can be inscribed in the snow by marching in careful formations on surfaces that hadn't yet been walked on. Later you can photograph them.
Try Illuminating a Hollow Pyramid: built up of huge snow balls from within with a lantern. Such a feature produces an unusual effect and helps to light the way for some latecomer.
Work on Winter Advancement
Biggest Snowman Contest
Broom Hockey on frozen pond
Build brush piles in forest preserve for wildlife shelter
Build, Install, & Maintain Birdfeeders for local parks
Build Snow Shelters (Quinzees)
Build home-made snowshoes
Build a Klondike Sled
Chilly Chili Weekend (winter camp with "Chili Cook-Off" contest)
Christmas Caroling at area Nursing Homes
Christmas Tree recycling project (our park district sponsors it)
Cold Weather Emergencies/Injuries Training
Cook dinner for local homeless shelter
Create a night "Luminarie Garden" for area Nursing Home
Curling (Scottish Sport)
Firebuilding Contest/Water boiling Contest
Foil Cooking Campout (BYO Food)
Frisbee golf/football in snow
Hay Ride with hot chocolate and cider
Hike to Ice Falls (if nearby)--(Starved Rock State Park in Illinois)
Holiday Campout with Feast of turkey & trimmings
Ice Rescue Training
Ice Skating Party
Indoor Lock-In (Climbing Gym)
Indoor Pool Swim Party
Industrial/Educational/Military Facility Tour
Junior Leadership Training Weekend
Kettle Ringing for the Salvation Army
Klondike Derby Race
Mini-Itiderod (Cross-Country 10k Race Through Snow)
Movie night/Pizza Party
Nature Center program at local forest preserve
Orienteering Course in Snow
Search & Rescue Training (winter conditions) possible drill weekend.
Shoveling walks for elderly
Shoveling out fire hydrants
Silent Night Hike (It's amazing what you can see)
Skiing/Snowboarding trip (expensive)
Sledding/Tobogganing/Tubing at local hill (longest run contest)
Snow Fugitive (track "escaped convict" --usually me-- through woods)
Snow Obstacle Course Race
Snow Sculpture Contest
Snow Wheeling (mountain biking in light snow cover)
Snowmobile Safety Certification Training (before #49 below)
Snowmobiling Trip (cheap if borrowed machines)--(Thanks Milt!)
Snowshoe in backcountry (troop has snowshoes)
Stargazing Hike (beautiful clear winter nights are Super)
Storytelling Marathon (for long winter nights around a campfire)
Teaching Cub Pack about winter camping/activities
Tracking (make casts)--(best after fresh snow)
Used coat drive for homeless shelter
Vigil Campfire Overnight (big fire, no sleep)
Visit local museum
Visit public meeting (school board, city council)--(Present Colors)
Winter Survival Campout quinzee building, snowshoeing (no tents--build shelters, we do bring food)
Wild Cave/Spelunking (same temperature underground winter or summer)
X-Country Skiing (low cost rentals available)
Zoo trip (arctic animals more active in winter)
Winter Skills Workshop & Sledding
Day fire-building, animal ID, and
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.