Planning a Winter Camping Expedition – Junior Four Point Training
Winter Camping Requires a lot of Prep
In a little more than five weeks, 11th graders will head into the woods on a nine-day winter camping expedition known as Junior Point. Often considered the highlight of Gould’s 30-year Four Point tradition, the winter camping experience is staffed and organized almost entirely by faculty (with a few parent, alumni, and emeriti helpers over the years).
Few schools could take on such a program, but Gould faculty are uniquely qualified. Still, Gould students are sometimes nervous or uncertain about the trip, so to make sure everyone is on the same page faculty leaders head to the Outward Bound campus in Newry for two nights of training each January.
A Four Point of Order
While there this year, the group reviewed the goals and objectives and had a discussion of what to expect from students on an expedition. This year, we were also thinking about how the pandemic might impact the trip, of course.
Every year I look forward to this trip where we can refresh our skills, learn from each other, and spend quality time with colleagues. This year was very special as we have not had the opportunity to have lots of in-person time with each other due to the pandemic.
Winter Camping Skills Practiced and Topics of Discussion included:
- Navigating with a map and compass
- Campsite set-up and organization
- Leave No Trace principles
- Planning the ideal winter camping itinerary
- Setting up tarps and sleeping areas
- Which hard and soft skills are the most important
- Medical scenarios and the basics of Wilderness First Aid (all have their WFA credentials)
- How to balance risk management in the backcountry
- How to utilize student journals and build in time for reflection
We are looking at ways to make this trip as normal as possible through a testing strategy prior to departure so that in the woods the groups enjoy the typical team building and personal growth experiences that this trip is legendary for.
The group moved to a new campsite for the second night, much as the student groups will do in March. Junior Four Point is a pivotal piece of experiential learning at Gould, and something we take seriously. A lot of planning and care goes into making sure we can provide an exceptional and safe formative experience for everyone.