Troop Meeting Idea: Snow Caves

I love snow caves.  It is one of the more adventurous campouts my troop does.  But, because the weather has to cooperate, it isn’t easy to train scouts on how to build one properly.   If left to their own devices, they will invariably just dig a horizontal hole in the snow and call it home.  For those well trained in the snow cave arts, we know they’ll be cold, wet, and miserable sleeping in there.

Fortunately, the snow cave arts have been perfected over many centuries and there are many web sites and YouTube videos to show how to do it.  I won’t repeat those lectures here and simply point to a few great web sites:

I suggest that building a scaled down model of snow cave is a more effective way to teach.  You can have a contest between patrols for which can build the best and most practical shelter.  Plus, you can have scouts in warmer regions do it.

Here are some ideas on how to do it (one one way NOT to do it.)

  • Legos – most younger scouts love Legos and they are useful for constructing the shelves and sleeping platforms that good survival snow caves always have.  And errors can always be easily corrected.
  • A water melon – rather than shoveling the excess snow away from the cave, they can eat it.
  • Balsa wood – will take longer but perfects some carving skills.

NOW NOT TO DO IT:  I had the bright idea of using “Great Stuff” gap filler spray-on foam insulation that is easily purchased at Home Depot.  My idea was to squirt a big blob of it on a 1×1 foot piece of foam board like it was a big pile of snow.  I let it dry overnight and gave one to each patrol along with a plastic knife and spoon that they could use for carving.  REALLY BAD IDEA.  I didn’t realize that the inside of the foam blob would NEVER dry since it was insulated from the outside air.  So when scouts cut into the blob, wet brown sticky liquid went everywhere.  It took us an hour, using gasoline, to clean up the elementary school cafeteria tables.  The custodians weren’t happy.  Nor were the moms who had to clean up scout shirts.  Live and learn….



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