With well over a metre of snow, you’d think they could find a place to use their snowshoes — but no, there were so many other fun activities at last weekend’s winter campout, the 14 members of the First Hope Venturer Company put the snowshoes on hold, in the cold.
“During the day, it was around 0º Celsius,” said company commissioner Crystal Medlock, Monday. “But by Saturday night, it was minus 15, with clear skies and stars. It was beautiful!”
Some 350 young people from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the BC interior gathered at the Cambie Creek day use area for the forty-second annual ROVENT winter campout. The site is about 7 km west of the Manning Park lodge.
Venturers are the next step up from Scouts, spanning ages 14 to 17. Rovers are aged 18 to 26 and the two groups get together for big gatherings several times a year, with Rovers acting as activity leaders. Parent advisors, including Shannon Fischer and Yvonne Hambly, came along as chaperones.
Most of the Hope contingent had left school at last block on Friday, to get the camp set up before dark, said Medlock.
It was good that they did. Her husband Scott went with the first crew and Crystal drove up later in white-out conditions.
“Emil Anderson had plowed out the parking lot for us,” said Crystal. This provided a large area for a street hockey tournament and a large dance floor for the Saturday and Sunday night dances. “They had a cube van with the lights and sound system and the kids danced till midnight.”
With no internet access, it was down to old-school fun and socializing — something the Hope kids are noted for, said Medlock.
Other groups had gas heaters but the Hope group brought firewood and a steel fire pit.
“They dug down five feet to the dirt,” said Medlock, “and they molded benches in the snow. Sometimes the fire got too hot, so they sat around the top edge. Other kids would come around to socialize. We had met a lot of them at a jamboree on the Island, or at the Rain Bucket campout.
“They randomly broke out into songs. It was a lot of fun.”
At the Rain Bucket event in November, the Hope campers were introduced to food-eating competitions. Ben Tuivai outmunched all others in the Spam-themed event.
This time, Tuivai rested his digestive system, though Sequel Adamson gave it a try, bowing out in the first round.
Other Hope members took part in the cook-off challenge.
“Each team got half a head of purple cabbage, a bag of hard cheezies and a big sweet potato,” explained Medlock. “You had one hour and you were allowed to use any other food you already had.”
Like their fire pit, Hope’s cooking area was dug down into the snow, with a pop-up canopy to keep the wind down.
“The kids took a spicy kimchi noodle bowl and threw it in with stir-fried cabbage and carrots,” said Medlock. “They mashed the sweet potato and rolled a piece of firewood on the cheezie bag to crush them, then they mixed the cheezies in the sweet potato and sprinkled grated cheese on top.
“The judges had to taste it — and the Hope kids didn’t win — but they ate all the leftovers. Next year, they’ll be ready for it.
Hope also put a team in the talent show, lip-synching to Adele’s recent hit “Hello.” They tried but they ended up on the outside of the awards.
With tugs-of-war, speed snowman making, street hockey, foam sword “boffing,” random snowballing and hours of sledding, the Venturers had plenty of chances to get their clothes wet.
Medlock’s tent had a woodstove and chimney, so it doubled as a drying shed.
“The kids slept in three-man tents and anyone who didn’t have a good sleeping bag one inside another, with blankets as well,” said Medlock. “They were pretty warm. These kids have been winter camping for four or five years now, so they’re used to it.
“We’re probably going to bring the Scouts up there in spring break, when it’s a little warmer.”