By Guest Author: Jackie Edwards
One of the most exciting aspects of going on camp can be an Out-Trip. When you’ve gained enough experience and are ready your camp will have dedicated staff to help you plan one of these exciting wilderness adventures.
However given the uncertainty that climate change brings including a predicted increase of 50% in snowfall for the Alberta region and the chance of major weather events doubling, surely it is better to just play it safe at the home camp and forget about the wilderness? If you are prepared and have the equipment you can enjoy amazing adventures in almost any weather.
Your out-camp director will train you in all you need to know before heading out into the wilderness and it is best that you have an idea of how to prepare in advance.
Picking your spot
A bit of rain is nothing to worry about when camping provided that you have prepared for it in advance. That lovely picturesque spot at the bottom of the valley may look amazing but you’ll soon regret it when your tent becomes a boat. Pick firm ground that is raised from the surroundings to avoid flooding and have a secure storage area.
Your tent maybe waterproof but that proofing goes both ways. Being trapped under canvas (well… nylon or polyester now-a-days) can still be a great adventure but if you don’t stow away wet stuff and properly ventilate your tent that adventure will become cold and miserable very fast.
Have an emergency plan
In our modern times there is a temptation to rely too much on gadgets such as our mobile phones to do the hard work for us. City-dwellers become so reliant on the cell phone that they forget there are fewer cell towers and battery charging points in the wilderness; often leading to disaster. Ensure that you’ve got an emergency shelter planned (such as a natural dip near a thick crop of trees) so that if the weather changes you can ride it out. Preparation is also about avoiding issues. Camping is supposed to be fun and not life-threatening, so you need to know when to quit. An emergency weather radio will receive alerts as soon as they are issued allowing you to pack up and head back before you get caught out.
Hot food makes everything right
For normal camp cooking there is a huge variety of cookers available and choosing the right one is a very personal preference. In bad weather a bulky double gas burner or hipster-cool lump of wrought iron become so useless they may as well be purely decorative items. Always have a back-up plan such as a Jetboil or Windburner cooker to ensure everyone can get something hot in their bellies, whatever the weather.
Dry feet are happy feet so keep at least one pair of spare socks and gloves in a sealed freezer bag. You should never underestimate the psychological and physiological benefits of warm, dry feet. Backwoods skills are handy to have but it is better to avoid needing them so whilst it is fun to learn how to rub two sticks together it is far more useful to be prepared in advance. Keep a stash of cigarette lighters with small pieces of rubber attached to them by elastic band. A little bit of vulcanised rubber ignites easily and burns long enough and hot enough to allow wood to ignite.
Finally remember that even though it is tempting to just lounge around in the sun when all is going well the best way to be ready for bad weather is to prepare when it is fair; regardless of how things look when you set up your camp always assume it will change. Put kindling into freezer bags to keep it dry, stash firewood under a tarpaulin and make sure that your tent is secure and taunt.
Remember to brush up on your survival skills to ensure that you are ready for anything. There is a phrase amongst campers and walkers - “there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing.” This can be extended further - there is no such thing as bad camping weather, there is only bad camping preparation (unless your emergency radio tells you otherwise)!