As winter gets closer in the northland, it’s easy to think about heading indoors and hibernating when the mercury drops. But don’t forget to make time for some outdoor fun too! Getting outside with your Girl Scout troop in the winter takes some extra effort, but the rewards are worth it. Let’s explore!
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. Dressing in layers is the way to go in the winter. Follow this handy infographic from the National Weather Service for tips on what to wear in winter temps. Try to stay away from cotton clothing which stays wet and can make you feel even colder. Choose wool or synthetics that wick moisture away from the body to keep you dry and warm.
Play in the Snow
Now that you’re dressed for the cold, it’s time to head out with the girls and play! Sledding, snowshoeing, and snow angels top the list of easy activities to do in the snow. Many local nature centers and state parks have winter gear available for rent:
- Three Rivers Park District Winter Equipment Rental
- Minnesota State Parks Snowshoe Rental (some parks have cross-country ski rental too)
- Minneapolis Park Board winter equipment rental
- Como Park Ski Center winter equipment rental
Ice skating or playing hockey on frozen lakes and ponds or at outdoor park rinks is another great way to get your girls moving outside in the winter. You can often find free loaner skates at many community rinks.
My Girl Scout troop had a tradition of sledding at a local sledding hill, then heading indoors to complete a service project together. Combine your outdoor adventures with a cozy warm-up for that extra winter experience. (Don’t forget the hot chocolate!)
Your troop can also join other Girl Scouts this winter at our camps! Check out these exciting Girl Scouts River Valleys winter adventures.
Get Your Science On
There are lots of ways for your girls to incorporate STEM into winter outdoor play with innovative science experiments:
- Science: Make a snow volcano
- Technology: Make your own barometer to predict the weather
- Engineering: Design and build your own quinze hut snow shelter
- Mathematics: Examine snowflakes and crystals up close
You can create art projects with snow too: Get some spray bottles or condiment squirt bottles, add water and food coloring, and paint on the snow. Voila! Instant (temporary) masterpieces.
Lend a Helping Hand
Girl Scouts love helping others! While you’re outside, have the girls help elderly neighbors shovel their front walks or spread deicer on the sidewalks to prevent slips on the ice. Or fill up bird feeders for our feathered friends who don’t have easy access to their natural food supplies during the winter. Spread some peanut butter on pine cones or bagels, roll them in seeds, and hang them from trees for the squirrels. It’s important to put out water for birds and animals in the winter too.
Explore the Winter Wonderland
Take a hike in a state park or natural area, or take a walk through your neighborhood to see winter changes up close. Go on a scavenger hunt outside with your troop. Visit waterfalls and rivers to see how they’ve changed with the cold. Complete a badge outdoors (login to your Volunteer Toolkit for tips on which badges have outdoor components).
With so many activities to do outside this winter, you may find yourself wishing for a long winter to fit it all in. Well, okay, maybe not. But hopefully, these ideas will help you and your troop enjoy the winter months a little more. We would love to hear about your winter adventures! Share your stories with us on our website or on Facebook (@GirlScoutsRV).
Catherine Mandle – Catherine is a Volunteer Resource Specialist at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She was a Girl Scout as a child and is now the troop treasurer for her daughter’s Girl Scout Junior troop (which she started and led for their first three years). She has dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota in anthropology and American Indian studies. Catherine has two children with special needs, including autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and food allergies. She loves to knit, and camps and hikes with her family as often as possible.