The 1st Four Arrows FNE Sahi Timber Wolf Den needs very little convincing about the values and excitement of a winter camp. But what can you do with 9,10, 11 and 12 year olds at a camp in winter you ask? Keeping in mind the age of the boys imposes some limitations, there are many program activities that we can and do deliver to our Timber Wolves at camp!
A winter camp for Timber Wolves means they are housed in well-heated quarters, but they need a lot of supervision. Include a good sized adult contingent. Before the boys go outdoors, check that they are properly dressed. Some of our Timber Wolves tend to skip the long johns (too much trouble ), or try to rush out before zipping up their coats. Make sure the clothes they've put on are dry. If not, have them change at once.
If the weather is very cold, make your periods outside short and double check the boys clothing. While you're out, stay alert for signs of chilling and frostbite. Use your best judgment and keep them indoors when temperatures are low and winds high, or when things turn wet.
After they come back in, conduct frequent checks to ensure they hang up wet clothing to dry. If you don't, you may find it tossed on a heater or bundled into a suitcase and getting everything else soggy as well. Design a system and set aside a suitable place to store boots. Make sure that the Timber Wolves know that you expect them to report to you if their boots get wet inside, and do a hand check yourself to make sure they are following the rules. Insist that they put on dry running shoes or slippers when they remove their boots.
Encourage the Timber Wolves to use the bathroom before they turn in for the night, especially if washroom facilities are not in the same building. Make sure they understand the importance of putting on boots and a coat of they have to leave the building for an evening pit stop, no mater how brief they think the visit will be. It's a good idea to reduce or eliminate liquid intake after dinner is over.
Cross-country skiing is one of our den's favorites. Timber Wolves and leaders who don't own their own skis can usually borrow or rent a pair. Many of our Timber Wolves and leaders take their first venture on "skinny skis" at winter camp. What a sight as they cautiously inch along at first, fall down, pick themselves up, and carry on, quickly learning and improving their skills, and increasing their confidence with every slide and glide.
It's important for leaders to lay out a safe course. Watch those lakes and stay off rivers. Try to avoid too many hills: you're not alpine skiing, after all. Go on a night ski under the moon and stars, its quite an adventure.
Skating is another favorite if you are lucky enough to have access to a frozen lake (carefully check ice thickness) or an outdoor rink. Again, we've found that Timber Wolves who don't own skates usually are able to borrow a pair. Be prepared to tie lots of skate laces and to help and encourage inexperienced skaters. Check to ensure that the boys have donned heavy socks before putting on their skates.
A snow sculpturing contest can be a bundle of laughs, especially if you are blessed with good packing snow. Encourage the Timber Wolves to use their boundless imaginations. Keep a sharp eye out for cold hands and wet gloves.
Have you ever tried a tug-o-war in the snow? It's a whole new experience when you have to concentrate on keeping your footing. Our timber wolves love to accept challenges from their leaders.
We also enjoy some fun ice hockey games. The important thing is to set up teams of equal size and ability and to avoid getting carried away with rules. To prevent injuries, we use a foam puck or tennis ball and forbid any type of body contact. Even Timber Wolves who don't have skates can play. The neat thing about approaching hockey in this way is that, if you don't have ice nearby, you can simply clear a "rink" in the snow or use the parking lot and play "snow hockey" instead.
Winter camp I also an ideal place for Timber Wolves to better appreciate the great outdoors in the winter by undertaking such tasks as: identifying common winter birds, trees, and shrubs, finding the north start and three winter constellations; participating in a ramble and an outdoor meeting; lighting a fire and cooking a simple meal. Combine the ramble and star gazing by taking a flashlight night hike. Go for a ramble during the day to look for animal tracks.
Capture the Flag is also fun, although it isn't practical if the snow is too deep. You had better have a good heart to outrun the Timber Wolves in the snow! And tobogganing is not for leaders who have bad backs, but the Timber Wolves love it. If you have a suitable hill, check it out to ensure it is safe. Remove any possible hazards. One toboggan for each group is enough, but be sure that you provide plenty of supervision. Get on a toboggan with your Timber Wolves but be well prepared to wipe out!
Neither Timber Wolves nor leaders can remain outdoors all day during cold winter weather, but you can provide plenty of good indoor activities as well.
Crafts keep the Timber Wolves involved indoors and provide them with souvenirs to take home. Our boys have built popsicle stick birdhouses, models of the camp, and gift plaques. For the plaques, we provided blocks of wood which they sanded and stained before gluing on a picture of themselves and adding a protective clear finish.
Play Bingo or another quiet game. We often bring along checkers, chess, or another game that the boys will enjoy. You can hold an indoor campfire with a rousing singsong, tell stories, or show a suitable movie on video. We also give our Timber Wolves free time when they can play games or simply relax.
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