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Boy Scouts spend brisk night along Lake Mitchell for winter camporee

As the winter wind howls across the plains of South Dakota, most people don't want to even step outside, let alone sleep there.

That, however, was exactly the idea behind the Boy Scouts Pheasant District winter camporee that took place over the weekend at Lake Mitchell.

More than 30 boys, ages 11 to 18, slept overnight in tents near the lake Friday in order to earn points for their polar bear badge.

They pitched tents in a nearby tree grove to create some shelter from the wind. The group also bundled up for a chilly evening.

"We got to 11 degrees for a low last night," said Pheasant District camp coordinator Brandon Zilhauer Saturday morning. "The kids will earn one point for every degree below 32, so that makes 21 points for staying overnight."

According to Zilhauer, the Scouts also received points for cooking in cold weather.

A total of 100 points is needed to obtain the polar bear patch in Boy Scouts.

"A few of them did get cold," said Zilhauer, "but they still enjoy it and have a really good time."

Levi Knight, 15, of Mitchell, said he enjoyed the chilly campout.

"It was fun and interesting," Levi said. "It is the middle of winter and hardly any snow. That was fun."

Levi said he stayed warm through the night by creating many layers.

"I had a blanket, and then a sleeping pad, another blanket, my sleeping bag, with a blanket on top of that and my coat over that," he said.

"The no snow was really a good thing," Levi said "All of our equipment stayed dry and that helped us keep warm as well."

This is the third year he has participated in the winter camping event with the Boy Scouts and said the most important advice to anyone wanting to camp in the winter is to over-pack.

"You know it's going to be cold and you can always use more clothes and blankets," Levi said. "If you don't bring enough you are kind of stuck with what you got."

Cody Tietz, 13, of Mitchell, said it was cold but fun to spend overnight outside in the winter.

Cody said he stayed warm with a lot of clothes and multiple sleeping bags and said he slept through the night.

Pheasant District director Daniel Knutson said events like this are great for team building and helping kids learn about dealing with adverse situations.

"It was a little chilly, but you come prepared and you are OK," Knutson said. "All the kids woke up this morning with a smile on their face.

"It's one of those things that even though it's kind of a pain, when it's over you know you accomplished something that a lot of people aren't even willing to try."

After the frosty night, the boys participated in eight winter activities ranging from ice safety to making a fire in cold temperatures. The activities were centered on working in teams to accomplish goals.

Boy Scouts troops from Wessington Springs, Parkston, Miller, Highmore and Mitchell participated in the event.