Boy Scouts head up the Ramcharger 8 during the Boy Scouts of America Montana Council ski weekend. PHOTO COURTESY JILL FOLTS.

Embracing winter

Boy Scouts enjoy a ski weekend and camping in Big Sky

Beams from flashlights illuminated the darkness as snow blew and the temperature fell to negative six degrees. Boy Scouts worked their way out to three season tents in an effort to earn frost points for their camping merit badges.  

Peter Jones, program manager for the Boy Scouts of America Montana Council explained that around 30 parents and community members volunteered to make it possible for the boys to have a ski weekend up at Big Sky Resort. From organization, registration, cooking meals, transportation, collecting food donations from local businesses and people, as well as cleaning the lodge and teaching the kids skiing – the volunteers made it possible. This is the fifth year for the only council level ski event in the state. 

The 85 boys who participated this year came from Glendive, Billings, Laurel, Bozeman, Belgrade, Helena, Great Falls and Deer Lodge. 

They spent days at the resort, skiing and learning first aid training and dog training “where we have the kids get out and work with avalanche dogs.” Nights were spent camping at Cinnamon Lodge and Adventures. They’ve stayed at the property the past two years, Jones explained, and said it is handy since the boys who did not want to camp could roll out the camp pads and sleeping bags and stay on the floor in the lodge. 

Back-to-back nights with sub zero temperatures allowed for the boys to earn significant frost points. 

“We will teach them how to stay out in basic gear in 20 below zero. You can double up your sleeping bag and put a warm water bottle in your sleeping bag,” Jones said. “It’s not too fun, you are moving more into the survival side of things, but we do it. If it’s their first time, they struggle a little bit, but then they come back better prepared. That’s the nice thing  about the Cinnamon Lodge – they can go inside if it’s too bad.” 

He explained that dry clothes are essential and it is also important to have a good pad or cot to get off the snow “so that you don’t lose heat into the snow.” 

He is noticing a trend in the organization and in the state. 

“A lot of kids really enjoy going out, doing winter camping and learning survival skills. More and more people are liking to get out and enjoy the winter in Montana,” he said.

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