By Sean Callahan
Be prepared, the Boy Scout motto said. I took this advice for granted when I entered the Boy Scouts of America a few years ago. I didn’t know what to expect when I heard about this legendary ‘Winter Camp.’
When I arrived to unpack the car, my hands were solid bricks of ice, despite my wool gloves covering them. Both my hoodie and winter parka were barely keeping my torso and back warm, while my face tightened from the chilly wind drafts. My feet felt so stiff that I couldn’t tell if they were actually cold by the time we’d finished setting up our tents (I casually wondered whether I had hypothermia at this point). When we’d finished setting up, it dawned on me: I would be snoozing inside a sleeping bag, on the frozen ground, in negative 5 degree weather.
Come next morning, with only five hours of horrible sleep, I’m on clean up duty for breakfast. The boiling water I’d just poured into our dish-washing basin is frozen within five minutes, and my bare fingers have turned blue as I desperately attempt to scrub the (half-frozen) dishes clean with a sponge. I’ve lost my patience after the third pot, and my fingers are pale enough to give the term ‘vampire’ a new meaning.
Although the cold and the cleanup had been atrocious, things began to improve with the company of friends. We spent the rest of the day there doing what teenage guys do best: Screwing around, snow-tubing (and falling) down steep, snowy hills, and drowning in cups of hot chocolate while sitting by the fire. After it was getting close to bedtime, four friends and I thought it would be a brilliant idea to slide down the longest hill in a snow tube together. The tube tipped over, knocking us off right as we reached the bottom of the hill. We laughed for a bit, then began throwing snowballs at each other all the way back to our campsite.
This B.S.A Winter Camp is a frigid wasteland at first glance, but I came to realize that it was more than that. It was a beautiful winter wonderland, full of fun opportunities waiting to be unleashed.