Gearing Up for Winter Camping on Junior Four Point
Every March for more than 30 years, Gould 11th graders have ventured into the Mahoosuc and White Mountains on an epic eight-night journey into the wilderness. Here’s a look at the winter camping gear they depend on to get them through the expedition.
Junior Point is one of the most anticipated Gould experiences and an absolute rite of passage. Some look forward to it eagerly, some with a degree of apprehension. Luckily for the latter, Gould is ultra-prepared for this endeavor. One thing they all have in common is that, upon reflection, none of them would have missed it for the world.
This year students depart on March 1, and when they do, they will be well supplied.
Chris Hayward, director of Experiential Learning, has more than 25 years of wilderness experience and knows the key to success is planning and preparation.
“We discuss the trip with juniors throughout the year and do gear checks with them to be sure they have the right clothing and equipment for this kind of expedition. With the right gear, students will be able to manage whatever mother nature presents them with.”
“With the right gear, students will be able to manage whatever mother nature presents them with.”
Director of Experiential Learning
In addition to top-notch winter camping gear, students have guidance from seasoned professionals. Faculty trip leaders let students break trail and problem solve on their own, but this isn’t their first rodeo.
“[They] are experienced leaders with a tremendous amount of skills, including wilderness first aid certifications and beyond,” says Hayward. “They’re passionate about helping kids have great experiences in the outdoors.”
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Below is a look at some of the winter camping gear groups carry on their backs and in sleds on their trips—some recommended, some provided, and some not included here, like communal cookware and maps.
If squint print isn’t your thing, that list includes:
Gould-Issued Winter Camping Gear
- Water Bottle
- Water Bottle Parka
- Backpack & Liner Bag
- Sleeping Bag & Compression Sack
- Sleeping Pad
- Core Pad
- Winter Boots
- Shell Jacket
- Puffball Jacket
- Vapor Barrier Liners
Recommended Winter Camping Gear
- Insulated Cup
- Bowl with Lid
- Nylon Stuff Sacks (2)
- Synthetic Underwear (2)
- Synthetic Long Sleeve Top (2)
- Synthetic Long Underwear (2)
- Light Fleece Top
- Heavy Fleece Top
- Fleece Pants
- Rain/Snow Pants
- Nylon Shorts or Pants
- Warm Hat
- Balaclava or Neck Warmer
- Liner Gloves
- Light Wool/Fleece Mittens
- Heavy Wool/Fleece Mittens
- Nylon Over-mitten Shells
- Light Synthetic Liner Socks (2)
- Heavy Synthetic Socks (3)
- Sports Bra (2)
- Headlamp with Extra Batteries
- Other Toiletries (Basic Needs Only)
- Lip Balm
- Camp Booties (Optional)
- Extra Pair of Mittens or Gloves (Optional)
Sounds like a lot to carry, right? And we haven’t even mentioned the food yet!
Winter Camping Provisions
It’s been said that an army marches on its stomach, and that’s equally true for Junior Four Point groups. Breaking trail, summiting mountains, and setting up camp in deep snow is hard work and burns a lot of calories. Hayward works closely with dining services to manage dietary restrictions and to be sure our students have the fuel they need to stay up and running.
The food on Junior Point is a source of great discussion. Here’s a small sample of the items a group of 12 might bring for sustenance:
- 8 1/2 lbs. of granola
- 48 bagels
- 5 lbs. of breakfast sausage
- 18 lbs. of GORP (peanuts, M&M, raisins)
- 6 1/2 lbs. of cheddar cheese
- 5 lbs. of pepperoni
- 4 1/2 lbs. of bacon
- 9 lbs. of pasta
- 2 1/2 lbs. of butter
- 6 lbs. of chicken
- 6 lbs. of turkey and Italian sausage
- 2 1/2 lbs. of lentils
- 6 lbs. of rice
- 72 whole-grain tortillas and pitas
- 7 lbs. of hot cocoa mix
- 2 lbs. of brown sugar
- 6 lbs. of peanut butter & jelly
Luckily this load gets lighter by the day, but a typical group returns with plenty of food to spare.
While the trip may seem daunting, Hayward is confident that Gould’s capable students are up for the challenge.
“The Junior Four Point expedition is not about survival; it is about taking on a big challenge, working through it as an individual, working through it as a group, and realizing how capable we all are. An extended winter expedition is a perfect recipe to help students understand all of these things.”
He also knows that lessons learned on Junior Four Point are indispensable, and aren’t limited to the scope of their high school experience.
“It’s not about survival; it is about taking on a big challenge, working through it as an individual, working through it as a group, and realizing how capable we are.”
Director of Experiential Learning
“This experience is 100% transferable to the world our students will enter. They’ll be faced with big challenges and they’ll know that they can charge forward to overcome whatever the task at hand is.”