On January 6, 2001, my adventure began. Four girls in my Girl Scout troop were going on a campout, except this time it wasn't an average campout. Where I live, the Girl Scout program puts on a Winter Survival class. The purpose is to try and live out in the snow and bitter winter cold for 24 hours. We would be with one other person and work together. All we had for a shelter was what we built out of three tarps. We could bring very few things, and nothing that would make the adventure too easy. We weren't really supposed to bring other food. This was because if your plane crashed, it's not too likely that a whole buffet table survived and is calling out your name. The only thing we could eat was rabbit, but we had to kill it with our own hands, butcher it with a pocket knife, and cook it over whatever fire we could make.
After a two hour ride, my friends and I came to our new and comfy (yeah right!) home. All of the girls met in a cabin about 250 yards away from our campsite. We talked about how the day would flow through and some tips. The leaders told us that we would only meet together one more time that day, when we prepared the rabbits. My partner and I had to carry our heavy sleeping bags and extra clothes down a hill covered with four inches of snow. Finally we were placed on the other side of a partially frozen stream. Then it was time to build.
We had a low tree branch in our area and hung two tarps over it, making sides. Then we laid our last tarp on the snowy ground. On top of it was a thick wool blanket and our two sleeping bags. Now we had to make a bathroom. We found a long, thin, sturdy, branch, lying on the ground. We dug around it on both sides and hung a bag on a tree close to it for our trash. It wasn't the greatest, but at least we had something! After that we walked a long distance looking for dry firewood. It was hard to find, and when we found it we were lucky. Some of our clothes were wet so we quickly changed, hoping they wouldn't freeze! After that we all were called to the top of the hill. It was time for the rabbits.
IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE ABOUT HUNTING OR BUTCHERING, PLEASE DON'T READ THE NEXT PARAGRAPH . . . .
Once we were all there, one of our supervisors was going to show us how to kill and butcher the rabbit. I think that I shouldn't explain how we killed the rabbit. It's not something I wish to remember. If you do want to learn how to do this for hunting or some other reason, you should talk to an experienced hunter. Remember though, if you kill something, you better eat it! If you don't, you took a life just for fun, which isn't humane at all!! After she killed it, she laid it in the snow. She then took a knife and cut off its feet and head. Then she made a cut from its legs to its neck and very carefully cut the fur of it. If she wasn't careful she could cut the thin layer of tissue below it. Eventually, she took out all the intestines and thoroughly cleaned out its body. There are more details to it but I already stated why I won't say them.
Next it was our turn. Our group did the same thing as we saw. Afterward I felt terrible and was regretting what I did. My partner and I carried back the rabbit scared about what was in our cold hands. When we were back at camp, we laid it's body in a plastic bag and covered it in the snow. We built up our fire with our wood and dry weeds. Then we uncovered the rabbit and cut up the meat and then cooked it over the fire with sticks. My father told me rabbit is good if you cook it right, well we didn't!! I ate it anyway because if I didn't, I couldn't forgive myself.
After that we tried hard to keep our fire going because it was getting cold. The wind didn't agree with us and kept putting it out. Finally the cold got to us and we couldn't take it anymore. We were told to take of all our clothes except one layer when we slept. This was supposed to keep us warm.......HA!!! My teeth were chattering and I could hardly sleep. My only thought was about why I even did this, why didn't I just stay at home? But as I slowly fell asleep I remembered why. To make me a stronger person. There, I was slowly dozing off, but constantly reflecting on the day. The long walk to camp, the challenge of making the tent, finding the firewood, getting dinner, trying so hard to stay warm, fighting the cold night, and trying to hope for the next day to come. Every three hours a counselor would come and wake us up to make sure we weren't too cold and didn't have frostbite. After each time they woke us up, my buddy and I got up and went to the bathroom. This is supposed to keep you warmer because your body is trying to keep your bladder warm so the rest of your body doesn't get as much heat as it could be getting.
Finally the next wakeup call came at seven A.M. and the next day was here!! Except my fingers had frostbite and were white! My buddy's feet were the same as my fingers. Quickly we got dressed. Our shoes were completely frozen and ice cold. We both only had one pair of socks on because all the others were truly ice and hard as stones. We decided that we could put toilet paper in our socks and wrap up our feet. This kept them warmer, but made it harder to put our feet in our shoes. I almost broke my foot trying to put my feet in the shoes. Finally they went in.
I started to walk down a slope that led to our campsite when my partner said she felt better and thought we could do a little cleaning up before we went. I agreed with her and helped her cover the firepit with snow. Then we took down the tarps and folded our sleeping bags. Camp was now halfway cleaned and we had to go to the cabin. It took about five minuets to get there and our pain was worse. We we came in, the counselors were wondering why we were here so fast. We told them about the problem and they gave us hot chocolate. They said to take off our boots and gloves and looked at our fingers and feet. We both had minor frostbite, but it felt much worse. After a while another group came and then three more. We decided that it was time to head back, especially since we felt better.
On our way out, we came across a girl who was in the campsite next to us. She was all alone though and her partner wasn't with her. You are never supposed to leave your partner alone under any circumstances. This made us so mad because it was wrong and her partner had become a good friend of ours.
After a fast run down the huge hill we went to her camp area. There we found her crying and mad. "She (her partner) woke me up and said 'We need to clean up!' but I told her I was still tired and wanted to rest for twenty more minutes. She got real mad at me and took down her tarp, packed her clothes, and left me here to clean the whole camp," she sobbed. We felt bad for her and so angry at her partner. We decided to help her clean her camp and she said she would help us with ours. After a long time and hard work the camps had snow on the fire pits, no trash, no burnt wood, or any other things we left. Sally said we could use her sled to carry our stuff up the hill. We gladly accepted her offer and thanked her. She was still mad at her partner and was going to tell her about how she felt.
Once at the cabin, we tried to relax and get warm. Our new friend and her partner were too angry at each other to talk. I got to talking with our new friend some more and she said she forgot her pocket knife at camp. I told her I would go with her to get it. As we were walking down the hill she said, "Thank you." I asked her why. She said it was because of what my partner and I did for her. Helping her with her stuff and the camp and not leaving her alone. I said, "You're welcome," and we were silent for a while.
After we retrieved the knife we saw that people were starting to leave at the cabin. A lot of my new friends were already gone. Then finally after the longest day of my life, it was time for us to go, and I wondered, would I miss this place? At the time I thought surely not, but now -- reflecting on the whole thing -- I think it made a stronger person out of me . . . and no one else can ever understand that feeling.