Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Shelter Construction for Kids

Never Sit Directly on Snow or Ice!!
There are few survival skills more critical than knowing how to stay alive in adverse weather conditions. Of these extreme environments, none is more dreadful than the prospect of spending a frigid night out in the unforgiving Maine winter.  Over the years, many outdoorsmen have died of exposure after getting lost or stranded and succumbing to the freezing cold. To survive the night in temperatures typically well below freezing, individuals must posses a unique and specialized skill set.

Mountaineers, Eskimos and even Maine’s furbearing animals, know well how to protect themselves from exposure and actually thrive in the hostile winter environment. The main killer of any creature, in the deep freeze of winter, is its inability to conserve body heat. Though this phenomenon can occur through a variety of ways, it is most deadly when it involves wind chill. Forest animals and man are very familiar with the brutal effect of wind can have on drastically lowering ambient temperatures. Battling these forces is as simple as standing in the lee of a tree, rock or along the edging of a spruce thicket. This basic knowledge will allow you to become instantly warmer on a day with high winds. It is certainly no surprise then that one secret to surviving in winter is partially dependent on getting out of the wind.

Snow Tunnels are FUN!
While it is possible to use natural barriers to shelter oneself against the wind, it is much more effective to build shelters out of snow and ice. Effectively constructed snow shelters not only shield your from the wind but also insulate against the cold. Though many designs exist, the most popular shelters in order of greatest to least complexity include: igloos, quinzees, snow caves and trenches.

With the potential that the knowledge required to construct one of these structures could potentially some day save your life, building snow shelters is a great skill to teach children. Kids are naturals at learning how to construct snow structures and if provided the opportunity, likely to teach you a thing or two about snow shelter construction. Snow is a natural, fun and relatively forgiving medium to work with and it can be done with a simple set of tools that likely everyone already owns.

When hooking small children (2-6 years) into learning this cold weather survival skill, it pays to start by constructing a snow tunnel.  This easy beginner level snow project is fun for kids to “play” in and is a building block to snow cave construction. At 5 years old most kids will easily be able to build their own tunnels without parental assistance! By the time children reach 6-10 years of age, they will easily understand the basic dynamics of snow construction and be prepared to build larger and more complex snow shelter projects. At that point, it is simply a matter of providing them instruction and eventually preparing for their first overnight winter camping trip staying in their new snow and ice home!

Snow Shelter Construction Websites:


  1. Great post, thanks for sharing. :)

  2. This kind of situation is really tough. If you know how to handle this than it will save your life.

  3. WolfD, No problem! Glad you enjoyed!

  4. TEH, Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Winter survival is certainly a specialized skill but one that is extremely valuable!

  5. Great expression in the first photo.

  6. PB, I know! What a precious little peanut!

  7. Great advice... and aren't those kids lucky they got their mother's good looks :)

  8. DP, LOL! Unfortunately I have to agree with you! :)


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