Notes from The Outpost: A Natural Winter
Right now, green is white. Blue is also white. So are a lot of the browns. And also the reds, yellows, purples, and oranges. Pretty much everything is white right now.
As we’re writing this update in our Notes from The Outpost blog series, The Outpost Village, and Camp Chi as a whole, is covered in a beautiful white blanket of snow. Many of the sounds of the wild – the call of a bird, the pitter-patter of a field mouse in the underbrush – have quieted into a peaceful mid-winter sleep, softened further by the snow. It’s cold enough that there’s a negative symbol in front of the wind chill, if not the temperature, and it’s jarring to step outside. Still, we couldn’t be more excited to get outside.
Although many people think of winter as a time to hunker down indoors, it is also a time to experience the natural world in a different way. When we think of the outdoors, many of us think of breathtaking mountain views, fresh forests and waving fields of wildflowers. But just as natural as those images are those of snow-capped peaks and endless boreal forests. Wintertime may not be how you normally picture the outdoors. Rather than thinking about it as the opposite of what you know, think of it as a brand-new world to explore.
In this brand-new Winter World, there’s limitless possibility for fun. If you’re a bit hesitant to head out into the cold, there are some classic activities that are familiar and can help ease you out there.
Hitting the Hills:
There’s nothing more representative of outdoor winter fun than grabbing a sled and hitting the nearest hill. The endless rush of gliding over the natural curves of a hill, running back up, and swooshing down again can provide hours of excitement.
Arctic Architecture & Snowy Sculptures:
Also in the classic winter activities category, you can get your Calvin and Hobbes on and build an awesome snowman or snow fort. Putting your mind and body to work to engineer and create something out of a blank canvas of snow is an exercise in both creativity and fun.
Summer in the Winter
Believe it or not, there’s a great way to experience summertime during the winter. If you’re feeling nostalgic for some summer warmth, clear off a large circle of snow in your yard that’s safely away from buildings and structures, lay down a ring of big rocks, plop some dry wood in the center, and light up a glowing campfire! You can do this with a metal fire pit too, and it probably will be a bit easier. Regardless of how you create the bonfire, it’s a magical new experience toasting marshmallows over a roaring fire while surrounded by snow, and it’s a great way to bring some summer camp back to life!
There are many ways to enjoy the winter outdoors in ways you may have never tried before.
Finding Treasure in Plain Sight:
If you want to see how the natural world exists during the winter, a nature scavenger hunt is a great way to help you notice the wonders of winter. The best place to do this is to head out to a local park or forest preserve, but it can also be done right in your backyard! Come up with a list of things to try to find out there or use our Winter Scavenger Hunt below.
Framing the Fun:
Want to practice another skill while exploring nature? Take the scavenger hunt up one step and turn it into a photo scavenger hunt. Try to capture the outdoors from different angles and filters to represent it in new and exciting ways (such as from the perspective of some small critter).
Maybe you’ve found some cool objects on your scavenger hunt like a feather or colorful rock. You can take your collection, put it in a small container to have your nature treasure chest. Want to take it further? Make sure that container has a lid, fill it with water, and leave it outside overnight. Then you can pop the frozen creation out, and you have a beautiful, natural stained-glass creation! You can decorate your yard with your art by tying a string around them and hanging them on branches or fence posts and rails.
These are just a few ways to get outdoors during the winter, but there’s so much more you can do. Snowball Olympic Games, study snowflakes, find animal tracks in the snow. The list is endless. The fresh air, the physical exercise, the mind sharpening, and all the other benefits of the outdoors are still there in winter. We just love to get out there and explore it!
The Outpost Village Winter Scavenger Hunt
Explore your backyard, a local park, or a forest preserve and fall in love with the wonderful winter nature around us.
- A leaf on top of the snow
- A perfect pinecone
- A tree that still has leaves on it
- Wild berries (don’t eat any though!)
- Lichen growing on trees
- Animal tracks left in the snow – double points for finding different animal prints!
- A small critter out collecting food, like a squirrel or a rabbit
- A larger animal, like a deer (make sure you keep your distance)
- A cardinal
- A feather
- An insect (this one is especially hard)
- Icicles (but don’t stand under them!)
- Running water
- An untouched patch of snow