Wow! 11 degree projected low with a feels like temp of 4 degrees brings winter camping to a whole new level of fun!
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Wind gusts up to 21 mph with a all night wind made that feels like 4 degrees COLD! Yet with Royal Ranger Ministry we teach and experience these type situations each year as a challenge and a reminder just how nice it is at home.
Each year between Jan 1st and February 28th we try and work in a "Freeze if you please" campout. When the weather is perfect 11 degrees and 2 to 5" of snow projected. we reserve a site at Busiek State Park through the State of Missouri Conservation Office in Springfield on north Mayfair next to Prime Trucking.
Marshall my 22 year old son said earlier in the week it was supposed to get down to 11 degrees on Saturday night and he was going to sleep outside in his Hammock to dial it in as he calls it....proof testing gear. I said hey let's do a Freeze if you please.
So Saturday Marshall 22, Sam 19, Ernie 18, Nathan 22 and Mark 56 at 3:30 pm head down to Busiek for a cold nights camp. Yup everyone was checked and double checked for the right gear to survive the night. Cold winter camping is serious business. YOU MUST BE READY!
The area had been under water just 2 weeks before and there was considerable dead wood around "wet". After dragging up some dead trees and sawing them up we laid a row of 6" logs down on the ground then built our fire up on top of that Platform fire. One of the 3 things that keep a fire going is heat. When it's really cold and wet out to start a good fire you have to isolate the fire from that cold wet.

It wasn't long before Ernie and Nathan and I had enough wood to last us through the night. Ernie was the fire master and got the fire going. We cut a small dead "dry" branch that was up hanging in the trees into 10" long sections then batooned that into dry firewood starter sticks. Everything else was pretty wet. (this can get you a fire so don't forget it...batonoing fire wood).
Dark at about 5:15 pm. Raging fire going. Cold and windy. Smoking blowing all around. Tears rolling down the face from the smoke a great Freeze if you please!

I hit the tent at about 8:30 pm. The down sleeping bags are winners all year around an in this type of condition the beat all else out there. I also had a down underquilt from a hammock i put on over the top of my sleeping bag I could have gone down into the -20 with that setup..but it was cold enough. Right gear means comfort. Wrong gear means misery.
The rest of the camp had lights out at around 9:45 pm.

I sleep light. I could hear Ernie and Nathan snoring or moving aorund through the night. At 5:30 am I saw a light on the side of my tent and thought someone had gotten up and kindled the fire. Soon I heard foot steps and a young mans voice came out of the darkness. County Sheriff, are you alive, it's 4 degrees out here. I said yes sir we are fine. We do this every year. He said ok. Just checking. I thought "he needed some Ranger traning" or he doesn't get out much.
After about 15 minutes the lights went away and I thought this is the warmest I have been on one of these freeze if you please. I had a dry base layer on top and bottom and wool synthetic socks. That was it.
At 8:00 am I heard Ernie kindling a fire and soon we were up. Breaking camp and by 9:30 at Village Inn eathing a hearty breakfast and laughing of the fun we had through the night. Nathan being a green horn to cold went camping ignored the advice to put on dry clothes as well as to zip of the sleeping bags. He did at first but when he rolled a few times they just ended up laying over the top of he was part of the frozen chosen. It does MK kids as well as all young folks to experience these type of events. It makes them thankful for what they have at home.

Mark Jones