It’s a bad sign when you’re planning to go winter camping and the highways are closed due to snow.
But, despite schools being closed for four out of five days before the B.C. Family Day weekend, Hope’s Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Venturers commissioner, Crystal Medlock was feeling hopeful.
“I was pretty optimistic that the highway would open,” said Medlock. “We had to snowshoe in, to get our gear and bring it out on sleds earlier in the week.”
A local supporter of the Scouting movement allows Medlock to store the group’s gear in a metal shipping container on his rural property — but a metre of snow made gear retrieval a bit of a chore.
Third-year Scouts and the older Venturers were planning to join about 400 teens and young adults at the annual RoVent winter campout at Cambie Creek in Manning Park and all they needed was the Hope Princeton to be declared open, which happened on the Friday morning.
“The leaders from down-valley were waiting in Chilliwack for news about the highway,” said Medlock. “They usually go up on Thursday night, to get things set up — but they were busy making alternate plans. One year, they went to Langley instead.”
Once they arrived at the campground, the snow only fell while they were setting up the tents. After that, it was pretty well clear skies until Monday, said Medlock.
“Twelve sets of snowshoes came along,” she added, “and we definitely needed them to pack down the camp spot the kids picked because the fresh snow was easily waist deep if you walked with no snowshoes on.”
The Hope crew has learned from past camps that it makes the weekend a lot more pleasant if you have a tent with heat, to dry out wet clothes.
“We had a couple of big tents with wood stoves,” said Medlock. “It was -15 C at night but the girls didn’t get up to stoke their fire. Scott (her husband) got up every few hours in the parents’ tent.” Scouting mom Yvonne Hambly was also along on the trip.
“A few of the new kids didn’t believe me how cold it could get, so they only brought along a light sleeping bag and a few blankets,” said Medlock, laughing. “I had brought along five extra bags and the next day, they were asking for them. It’s funny how kids won’t believe you.”
As well as socializing with friends from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, whom they had met at previous camps, the kids got involved in the organized games.
“There was some new stuff, like horizontal bungee,” said Medlock. “Jacob (her son) was probably within a foot or so of the winning cone. The goal was to see how far you could stretch on the bungee to get the cone as far away from the starting point as possible. It was pretty fun to watch.”
There was bowling with a ten-pin ball, too. “You climbed a big hill of snow with the ball, then rolled it down to knock down the pins,” explained Medlock. “There was also horseshoes. You had to cover one eye, spin in a circle five times, then toss the horseshoe. Faith Johnnie, one of our new members, won first place.
“Ben Tuivai and Sequel Adamson were in the food eating contest again,” she said. “Ben should have won. The last item was to eat a whole pumpkin pie but he got sick before he finished.”
Then there was “boffing.”
“You had a foam bat and you had to knock the other person out of the ring with it,” said Medlock. “Josh Tuivai came third.
“Some of our kids went in the talent competition. They choreographed a dance and came in second place — and Sequel did a comedy act of Donald Trump. It was good!”
As there was no one else within earshot of the campers, the sound system was cranked up for dance time, 8 o’clock till midnight on the star-filled Saturday and Sunday nights.
“It was cold but they were dancing away,” said Medlock. “Their semester exams were over and they didn’t have a worry in the world — just kids being kids.”