1996 Snow Base Winter Camping -- (Long)
Todd Norman Tingblad (tingbltn@UWEC.EDU)
Tue, 17 Oct 1995 14:49:22 CDT
Forwarded from Mr. Rob Schultz, Co-Snow Base Director:
High Adventure Winter Camping
at the Snow Base
Operated by the Indianhead Council, St. Paul, Minnesota
In less than two months, the Indianhead Council's High Adventure Winter Camp,
"Snow Base", will open for it's 18th season of snow camping. Located at
Tomahawk Scout Reservation near Birchwood, Wisconsin, the Snow Base is the
BSA's largest high adventure winter camp in the United States. During the
winter of 1996, over 1,200 Scouts and Scouters from throughout the upper
Midwest are expected to participate.
The Snow Base was first opened in 1979, shortly after the Okpik program was
started at the Sommers Canoe Base in Ely. The programs offered at both Okpik
and Snow Base are nearly identical. There are five comparable BSA high
adventure camps in the country, they include, "Snow Base" operated by the
Indianhead Council, "Okpik" at Sommers Canoe Base, "Okpik" operated by the
Denver Area Council, "Kanik" at Philmont Scout Ranch, and "Snow Treks" in New
Hampshire. Several other councils also run smaller variations of winter
Most often, we are asked the question, "What is the difference between Snow
Base and Okpik?" The Okpik program takes place in the remote wilderness
areas of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, whereas, the Snow Base program
occurs on the 3,000 acre Tomahawk Scout Reservation. Additionally, extreme
sub-zero sleeping bags and winter clothing are provided for campers at the
Snow Base - at Okpik, Scouts are provided inserts to be used in their regular
summer sleeping bags and individuals are asked to use their own clothing
(only a limited supply is available for check-out).
The cost for a Friday night-Sunday afternoon weekend at the Snow Base is $42,
the same program is offered for $70 at Okpik (Sommers Canoe Base), or, $70 at
There are four different programs offered at Snow Base, they include Snow
Huskies for Scouts ages 11-12, Spearhead Limited Service and Spearhead Full
Service for Scouts ages 13-18, and Winter Camp School training for adult
leaders and Scouts ages 16+.
The Snow Huskies program is open to Scouts up through the age of 12. It is
designed to give younger boys a winter camp experience complete with skiing,
snowshoeing, outdoor initiative games and winter skills training.
Snow Huskies campers arrive on Saturday mornings and begin the weekend with
an orientation that includes training in how to dress for cold weather,
frostbite and hypothermia awareness/prevention, activities overview, etc.
Next Scouts are issued the clothing they will need for the weekend before
heading outside to spend the rest of the day participating in activities.
As of October 16th, the Snow Base administration was still finalizing the
1996 program activities. In past years, Snow Huskies participants have
enjoyed such adventures as underwater exploration using periscopes and ice
augers, a snow golf course, the wild 2 mile Klondike race, downhill sledding
on Snow Mountain, star study, ice fishing, a scavenger hunt, an indoor
campfire, skiing, snowshoeing, and more.
On Saturday evenings, they return to the central lodge for a campfire and
vespers service. Saturday night is spent inside the central lodge bunk
rooms. On Sunday mornings, Snow Huskies campers return outdoors for many
more adventures. After lunch, they arrive back at the lodge for a closing
awards ceremony before heading home.
Snow Huskies campers are provided full use of the winter camp clothing and
equipment. The following clothing is provided for each Snow Huskies
Participant: Sorel boots, extra boot liners, wool socks, polypropelene sock
liners, heavy sub-zero wool pants, suspenders, wool mitten liners, wool
mitten shells, water flask/cloth flask bag, nose/cheek protector and a wool
hat. Additionally, the following equipment is issued to each crew: arctic
crew sleds, Coleman Peak 1 stoves and cold-weather lanterns, cooking
pots/utensils, a first aid kit, plastic sleds, Klondike racing sled, ice
fishing bait and equipment, skis w/poles, snowshoes, golf clubs, and other
outdoor recreation equipment. A certified trail guide and complete food
service are also provided.
Up to 70 Scouts and leaders may attend each of the nine Snow Huskies weekends
which begin January 6 and end March 3. The cost of the weekend, which
includes all camp fees, housing, equipment/clothing usage, food service,
program, a trained guide and a camp patch is $31 per person. Advance
reservation is necessary.
Spearhead Full Service and Limited Service
Spearhead High Adventure Winter Camping is open to all Boy Scouts at least 13
years old and in good health. Units may choose one of two options: either
Full Service or Limited Service.
Units participating in the full service plan receive use of camp equipment,
all meals, housing, a camp patch for each participant and a certified trail
guide to accompany them throughout the weekend.
Limited service units receive use of all camp equipment, housing, a camp
patch for each participant, and a limited meal plan that includes only meals
served in the central lodge. No camp staff accompany them throughout the
weekend and units must bring their own trail foods. Please note: To register
for limited service, a unit must have camped at Snow Base in 1995 or have a
minimum of one Winter Camp School certified adult leader attend camp with the
Scouts arrive on Friday evenings no later than 8:30 p.m. and spend the first
evening inside the central lodge. After indoor training on basic winter
camping skills, they depart Saturday mornings into camp. The afternoon is
spent building snow shelters, skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cooking and
participating in the "Hunt for Blue Diamond" program. Saturday evening is
spent camping in a snow shelter.
They return to the central lodge on Sunday mornings for a camp vespers
service and hot lunch. Following an awards ceremony, they depart for home.
Up to 80 campers attend each of nine weekends that begin January 5 and end
The following equipment is provided to each Spearhead participant: A North
Face sub-zero sleeping bag rated to -35oF, insulating ground pads, Sorel
boots, extra boot liners, wool socks, polypropelene sock liners, heavy
sub-zero wool pants, suspenders, wool mitten liners, wool mitten shells,
water flask/cloth flask bag, nose/cheek protector and a wool hat.
Additionally, the following equipment is issued to each crew: arctic crew
sleds, Coleman Peak 1 stoves and cold-weather lanterns, cooking
pots/utensils, a first aid kit, ice fishing bait and equipment, skis w/poles,
snowshoes, shovels, tarps, and other winter camping equipment.
The cost per person is $42 for units utilizing the full service plan and $32
for units under the limited service plan. All campers receive a 1996
Spearhead participant patch.
Winter Camp School
Two Winter Camp Schools are offered at the Snow Base for adult leaders and
Scouts ages 16+. Participants learn about the many aspects of winter
camping, including outdoor first aid, sub-zero food preparation, equipment
selection and operation, emergency communications and procedures, crew
leadership, cold weather dress, wilderness survival and other advanced winter
Upon completion participants receive winter camp school certification and are
able to successfully lead their unit in sub-zero camping environments. The
course is one weekend in length (two courses are available: Dec. 15-17 or
Dec. 29-31) and the cost is $48 per person. Included in the course price is
all equipment usage, meals, housing, Winter Camp School training manual, camp
school certification patch and certificate.
Okpik at the Sommers Canoe Base also offers a camp school. That particular
camp school is one week in length (Dec. 3-9) and focuses on the same skills
but in greater detail. The cost of that camp school is $240 per person.
Persons applying to participate in the camp school at Okpik must have their
Scout Executive's approval before being accepted into the program.
Reservations for all Snow Base programs can be made by calling the Indianhead
Council Scout Service Center at 612-224-1891. Full payment is required with
your reservation. The fee is non-refundable and only transferable during the
same weekend to another person or unit. Phone reservations are held for 10
days pending receipt of check.
Two deep leadership is required. One leader must be 21 years of age or
older, assistants must be 18 years of age or older. Co-ed groups must have
one male and one female leader, both 21 years of age or older. Two deep
leadership may be accomplished by two small units combining as one crew with
each unit providing an adult leader. Please arrange this at time of
Non-Scouting groups and/or organizations are welcome to participate. In the
past, church groups, Girl Scout troops, colleges and schools, youth groups
and other organizations have enjoyed the Snow Base programs.
As of October 16, many reservations had been made. Generally speaking, the
camp is at least 85% full within three days of the first major snowfall in
the Twin Cities area (generally around Thanksgiving). We highly recommend
that units seriously considering attending Snow Base contact the council
office (612-224-1891) as soon as possible to find out the availability of
remaining weekend spaces. It can be extremely difficult to find open spaces
after the 15th of December.
There are no extra charges for out-of-council units or non-Scouting groups.
Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Several services are provided by the camp administration. They include
health and safety, an elaborate trading post, food service, vespers programs
Trained and certified EMT's are on staff. In the event of an emergency in
the remote wilderness, the camp is prepared for extractions via snowmobiles
and rescue litters. Staff carry battery-powered radios and electric-powered
radios are also located throughout the reservation. In a typical emergency
response, Scouts and/or adult leaders can be extracted within 10-20 minutes.
Local, out-of-camp medical services are nearby in Rice Lake.
Food service in the central lodge is provided by volunteer campmasters. All
meals are planned for persons experiencing intense, outdoor programs. Many
of the foods are high in calories and carbohydrates. Special meal
plans/requests can be accommodated by contacting one of the two Snow Base
co-directors listed below at least one week prior to your arrival at camp.
The trading post offers souvenirs, candy/food, clothing, patches and other
supplies. Checks and cash are accepted. Sorry, we cannot accept credit
The vespers services are lead by camp staff unless clergy is in camp. From
time-to-time, volunteer clergy are available at camp to provide religious
services. Additionally, church services are available in nearby communities
for Scouts needing to meet religious requirements.
The camp telephone number is: 715-354-3841. The camp fax number is:
715-354-3497. The camp telephone is answered from 7 p.m. on Friday evenings
through 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoons throughout the winter camp season. If
you have questions or need help at other times, please contact the council
office at 612-224-1891.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about the Snow Base, please contact one of the
individuals below. Brochures are available. If you are interested in
serving on staff at Snow Base, please request a 1996 staff application.
Indianhead Council, Boy Scouts of America
393 Marshall Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55102
Rob Schultz, Co-Snow Base Director
P.O. Box 2042
Stillwater, MN 55082
Paul Tocko, Co-Snow Base Director
This is a great camping program. I was part of the very first Spearhead Crew
19 years ago when Indianhead Council was first testing to see if this type of
camping would work. It did!!! I was part of that very first offical
Spearhead Crew the next year. I have also been to the younger scout program,
Snow Huskies (starting it's third full year). A really good program for the
11-12 year olds. Last year I was part of the first Snow Base Winter Camp
School. Again, a very good program. With the Winter Camp School
Certification, I now take my troop to Snow Base without having to take along
a Staff Crew Guide. This cuts the cost by $10 for the Spearhead program.
This year, I will again take my troop to Snow Base for the Snow Huskie and
Spearhead programs. Plus, I will be on the Campmaster staff on other
Going to Snow Base has been one of the best times I have had. I have seen
many a boy grow from an average Scout to a "Leader of Scouts", thanks to the
type of camping done at Snow Base. Scouts learn a lot about themselves
camping like this...in the snow and cold. They, along with first time
adults, are surprised to learn how warm they really are in -10oF (colder and
warmer) weather. I have camped in -42oF upto 50oF weather at Spearhead.
Have seen very little snow to lots of snow. All the times I've been up to
Snow Base, it's been great fun...even that trip to the Hospital last year
when I blow out my kneecap at Winter Camp School.
For you warmer weather folks located south of the Wisconsin border, Snow Base
has been host to Scout Troops/Posts as far south as Georgia...and they did
Todd Tingblad -- TINGBLTN@UWEC.EDU
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City