Now that's more like it!
Winter made a comeback at the 50th annual winter campout for Scouts Saturday in Owen Sound.
“We all got on our knees and prayed for snow, and it hasn't stopped,” joked winter campout treasurer and administrator Lorrie Tatum. “It's back to what it used to be.”
Temperatures hovered around -7 Celsius and the skies were a mix of sunshine, clouds, and snow flurries. And that was perfect for nearly 300 kids from around Ontario and Ohio.
“This feels more like a winter camp,” said Joe Coward, a Scout from Guelph who also attended last year's event, which saw rain and melting snow. “Without the snow, it just feels like a regular camp. And the snow makes it harder to camp.”
Dozens of tents were nestled in the snow, and campfires stayed lit all day and evening as Scouts and Venturers took part in activities that ranged from rescue missions, log sawing and fire starting to knot tying and first aid.
It's all part of traditional scouting, said winter campout chair John Brown. The activities give Scouts the chance to earn badges in activities they couldn't earn without coming to a winter camp.
“You come here now, and if you came here 50 years ago, you'd see a lot of the same activities, but just some different concepts being applied in different ways,” Brown said.
As much as tradition remains important, so does switching things up to keep the campout fresh, Brown said. Some activities are rotated in and out every few years, a few are altered slightly, and new ones are periodically introduced. This year, for example, paintballing was introduced.
“We have to keep it fun,” Brown said. “People are not going to get involved in scouting if we don't keep it fun. I always tell leaders, if you're not having fun, the kids aren't having fun.”
The snow and cold helped in the fun department because it made things more challenging, Brown said.
“There's a lot of kids here from the United States, others from parts of southern Ontario that don't have as much snow as we have, so the opportunity to be sheltered here in the valley keeps the winds off of people and allows the snow to come down without a blowing force. It makes the winter activities that much more challenging, because the snow actually adds to the challenge of doing things.”
Brown said Harrison Park is the perfect spot for the campout. “It gives you that wilderness adventure, but we also have the safety net of the city being right there.”
Opening ceremonies Saturday morning featured Curly Harnden and Murray Robinson, who were both at the first winter campout 50 years ago.
Awards were handed out Sunday.