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Troop 220 Boy Scouts Bear The Freezing Temperatures Of Okpik
February 9, 2013
The five scouts at Base Camp from left to right:
Vasile Wilcox, Josh Harris, David Burree, Jeffrey
Scarborough, Travis Whiteman
Northern Tier is the Boy Scouts of America’s gateway to adventure in the Great Northwoods. In the summer, scouts from Northern Tier’s three wilderness canoe bases explore millions of acres of pristine lakes, meandering rivers, dense forests and wetlands in Northern Minnesota,
Northwest Ontario and Northeast Manitoba. In the winter, Northern Tier is home to the Okpik Cold-Weather Camping program, the BSA’spremier winter high adventure program.
At Okpik, Scouts experience a true Northwoods winter: learning how to thrive in subzero temperatures, travel across frozen wilderness lakes and construct their own sleeping structures out of snow.
All trips are fully outfitted and provisioned, including almost all of the personal gear necessary to stay warm in the winter. A highly trained staff member, called an Interpreter, accompanies all crews on their trek.
This is one local scout’s journal of his Okpik adventure
By Josh Harris
On Thursday the 17th the Boy Scout crew of Troop 220 departed from the Lee’s Summit Christian Church at 5 p.m. for the Boy Scout High Adventure Outing called “Okpik”. The crew consisted of leader David Burre; assistant leaders Josh Harris, and Travis Whiteman; along with Jeffery Scarborough and Vasile Wilcox. Adults that attended were John Burre, Randy Scarborough, and Scout Master Andy Wilcox.
On Thursday night the scouts stayed at a Highland Park Christian Church in Des Moines, Iowa. At the church, with the guidance of Mr. Burre, the crew looked at several maps and went over plans for their trip.
On Friday evening, the crew pulled into Base Camp around 3pm. Later that night, the scouts became acquainted with interpreter Derrick Davis and finished with a meeting about the adventure that they were going to embark on.
Saturday, after sleeping in cold cabins, they ate a breakfast of pancakes and sausage. After breakfast the crew loaded their four foot long sleds with all of their gear for the two day expedition. Each scout packed a -20° sleeping bag with another 15 – 20° liner bag, three to four pairs of wool socks, two ground pads, and a small Nalgene thermal holder.
Crew Gear consisted of an ice auger, three 3-liter Nalgenes, seven shovels, two stoves and other varying equipment. By 9:30am the sleds were loaded and the scouts headed out for the destination in a cove on Snowbank Lake. Josh Harris navigated the crew the two miles to Snowbank. The trek was hard in snow shoes with sleds harnessed to their owners. Many of the trails were covered by the continual falling snow.
At around 11 a.m. the crew arrived at Snowbank and ate their lunch of frozen cheese sticks, trail mix and trail bread. After lunch they set to work on piling snow up for aquincy. A quincy is a snow version of an igloo. To build a quincy the scouts piled snow up to shoulder height and let it then sit for 2-3 hours. After the snow has condensed the crew hollowed it out.
The crew built three quincies that day. One quincy was built for the three adults, one for Travis and Vasile, and the other for Josh, David, and Jeffery.The inside of the quinsy was a comfortable 20°, which was about 30° warmer than the outside air temperature.
The next morning was difficult. The temperature was a balmy -20°. The crew ate breakfast and then tore down camp and packed their sleds for an all-day hike. The crew had to re-auger the hole in the ice for water and heard a report that the temperature that night would drop to -50°.
Just before the crew’s departure, the scouts enjoyed a dogsled program that gave them a taste of an overland journey. In all the excitement, the dog sled crew ran off with Mr. Burre and Mr. Scarborough leaving behind two of their crew instead.
At about 11 a.m. the scouts hit the trail. They stopped for lunch on the small tail of Flash Lake.
After the arrival at Base Camp, they unpacked the sleds at the cabins and ate dinner in the youth cabin. After dinner they checked in all of the borrowed gear, sleeping bags, boots, water bottles, and mittens.
On Monday morning, the crew woke early, loaded the van, ate an early breakfast in the dining hall, and departed from base camp by 7 a.m. The frozen scouts arrived back at the Lee’s Summit Christian Church at 8 p.m. in time to join the weekly scout meeting with Troop 220.
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