Winter Camping: My Learning/Growth Zone

By: Nalisha Sankreacha

Have you ever been in ‘that place’? That dark, sweat-inducing, stomach lurching place known as the threshold between your comfort and panic zone? The place where you’re not quite sure whether you’ve made the right decision?

I have.

A couple of weeks ago my friends decided to solidify our amorphous plans to go winter camping. I had already leaped at opportunities in the past to go camping in other seasons, and was comfortable with the idea of sleeping in a tent, building a fire, and using nature’s bathroom. However, the idea of camping in the winter made me wince. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with winter, simultaneously adoring the serenity of a snowfall and hating the wet-slushy after effect. Not to mention the bitter rage inflicted by a cool breeze, the dead barren trees, the gloom of little daylight, and general cold. Despite this, I still have a deep appreciation for winter! And I decided that perhaps winter camping wouldn’t be so horrendous.

Though I believed I was prepared for this experience, it wasn’t until a few days prior to the trip when ‘that place’ became manifest. I started to feel hesitant and was slightly afraid of what might happen on our adventure. My mind buzzed with potential mishaps and disasters. Moreover, the general consensus, from our other friends and coworkers, that we were insane for wanting to sleep in the cold snow didn’t offer me much confidence.

Nevertheless, I realized that this was a part of ‘stepping outside my comfort zone’. This is a familiar phrase for any person who has done a full value contract at Bark Lake. Though we facilitators talk about this concept in light of individual decisions and attitudes, this was a circumstance where my support group (the friends who were accompanying me) really helped me step into my growth zone. If not for their prior camping experience, tolerance, and enthusiasm, this trip probably wouldn’t have happened. Sometimes it’s the people around you can wholly influence your decision to do something you find uncomfortable or scary. I had some great friends who filled my journey with as much ease as possible.

The idea of a support group is relatable to the notion of a team. When it comes to leadership activities, like many of the initiatives we do in our programming, sometimes it isn’t about one person taking charge. In fact, if winter camping has taught me one thing, it’s that you cannot be selfish; it is one of the most team-oriented activities. The inclement weather and extremities of winter camping require everyone to be a team player. Staying warm, having a comfortable place to sleep, and pulling the gear sled demands that each person put their best foot forward. Though this was not always feasible in our case, and there were moments where patience was lost, going forward these ideas will endure, perhaps in my next attempt at winter camping. After all, this trip did allow me eat a hearty-homemade stew, bannock, and banana boats. Who doesn’t love food cooked over a fire? And despite everyone’s wariness, no one froze or was frost bitten.

So, for all you individuals heading up to camp for your out-trips, take it from someone who is as novice a camper as can be, use your support group, be a team. It will help you step outside your comfort zone will make your trip all the more enjoyable and memorable. Grasp these last few weeks of winter and get out there! Happy camping!


Facilitators getting ready to start an adventure!
Facilitators getting ready to start an adventure!


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