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Okpik Cold Weather Adventure

02/04/2011 – 02/06/2011

On Friday, February 4, 2011, 13 scouts and 4 adults from Troop 28 went on a trip to Maine to participate in a three day extreme winter camping project called OKPIK (pronounced “ook-pick”). Okpik is the Inuit name for the snowy owl and the official symbol of the official Boy Scouts of America cold weather camping program. We drove up to Raymond, Maine and got to Camp William Hinds. Camp Hinds is the summer camp for troops in the Pine Tree Council.  It took us approximately 3 1/2 hours to reach Camp Hinds. There were two other Old Colony Council troops staying at Camp Hinds with us, including Troop 53 from Plympton.

When we arrived at the camp, we were showed to a room filled with bunks that we were staying in. We then spread all the gear we would be using out on our bunks for inspection. If our gear was inadequate, we could borrow gear from Camp Hinds. Then we proceeded to the orientation where we discussed winter clothing, shelters and what we would be doing. We learned we would be snowshoeing, cross country skiing and learning survival skills.  After orientation, we headed to bed for our last night indoors for the weekend.

In the morning, we had a breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and english muffins. After breakfast, we gathered our gear and checked out a pair of snow shoes for every member of the troop. We learned that we would be hiking to a good spot to build our quinzees. Quinzees are like igloos except they are easier to build because you don’t carve individual blocks.

We hiked for about 45 minutes and once we reached our building site, each sleeping group began to make a mound of snow that varied in size depending on the number of people in the group. Then each group stuck sticks that were about a foot long into random spots on the snow mound. After our mounds were done, we had a lunch of instant ramen noodle soup. After lunch, our guides, Nate and Sean, led us on a short hike to kill some time. When we returned the mounds were hard packed and sturdy and we were ready to begin the next phase of construction.

Each sleeping group began to dig a doorway stretching about two feet into the mound. Then we started to hollow the mounds out. Whenever we hit one of the sticks, we knew to stop hollowing out in that spot because the walls had to be a certain thickness and the sticks were our guide. Once we finished hollowing the mounds out, we made two ventilation shafts for each person.  Then we brought our gear into the quinzee and rolled out our bedding.

When everybody was satisfied with their quinzee, we were led on another hike to sneak up on one of the other nearby troops. We came across the frozen lake to strike at the waterfront. Unfortunately, this attempt completely failed because of inadequate distraction by two of Troop 28s scouts.

After a brief discussion and greeting from the other troop, we headed back for dinner. Dinner consisted of dehydrated beef and mashed potatoes that, when rehydrated, tasted really good. Later, we hiked to a nearby parking lot where one of the camp staff was waiting with warm water and apple crisp. This was a great chance to warm up and dry our clothes by a trash can fire. After we were warm and dry we headed back to the camp site for bed. Surprisingly, the quinzees were extremely well insulated and, with the help of our zero degree bags we were toasty warm. I am speaking for the whole troop when I say we didn’t get a lot of sleep. It didn’t really feel natural to be sleeping in a cave of snow. One sleeping group had some leaking issues that kept them up.

On Sunday morning, we packed up our gear and had a breakfast of pop tarts and granola bars. Then we proceeded to wreck our quinzees so that no one could use them other than us. This was a long and grueling process because the quinzees had thick roofs and walls. Some reaching up to two feet in thickness.

After our quinzees were destroyed, we grabbed our gear and began the hike back to the lodge. It was surprisingly warm in the morning so everybody was sweating and hot during the hike. When we finally reached the lodge everyone was glad to be back and to be that much closer to home. We had a welcome back feast of lasagna, salad and garlic bread. For dessert we had brownies with ice cream and fudge. After lunch, we returned our borrowed gear and packed the cars full of our gear to leave. After a few goodbyes to our guides and the other troops, we left Camp Hinds for the long drive home.

The entire weekend was a fascinating experience and I hope I get a chance to do it again. I would highly recommend going on this trip in the future for anyone who was not old enough or was unable to attend.

Adults that attended: Mr. Ackley, Mr. Fogarty, Mr. Hillman, and Mr. Jackisch.

Scouts that attended: Evan Ackley, Adam Benson, Derek Benson, Thomas Fogarty, Levente Haber, Robbie Hillman, Brody Jackisch, Andrew Leighton, Jack O’Brien, Luke O’Brien, Christian Quebec, Nick Rosen and Jack Thomae.

Respectfully submitted,

Nick Rosen, Historian

© 2017 Boy Scout Troop 28 - Boy Scouts of America
© 2017 Boy Scout Troop 28 - Boy Scouts of America