Snowcraft 1 - Happy Camper School; 2007 - 2008 Season


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November 23rd 2007
Published: November 23rd 2007
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Happy Camper SchoolHappy Camper SchoolHappy Camper School

The instructers took the easy way to the School.
Happy camper School
If you were going to be working at one of the deep field camps, and had never been to Antarctica before, or had been away for some time, you were required to attend a two day course on survival basics known as Snowcraft I, Snow School, or Happy Camper School.

The class began at the Field Services Training Program (FSTP, or "F-Stop") office in McMurdo. Following a few lessons at FSTP on cold weather medicine, operation of VHF and HF radios, how things are done when working around helicopters, and how to operate portable camp stoves without lighting yourself, and/or your tent, and/or your tent mate on fire the class moved out into the field northeast of McMurdo near New Zealand's Scott Base.

Once there you learned how to pitch Scott tents, pitch mountain tents and build snow walls, build snow mounds (quinsy huts), and dig snow trenches. No, we didn't build any igloos. Igloos are actually somewhat difficult to build well, and when the name of the game is survival you don't want to be chewing up a lot of time and energy building anything fancy. A snow wall is your best bet. It gives
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Happy Campers walking from the vehicle drop off point to the camping equiptment storage.
you protection from the cold wind, and is quickly put together by chopping out blocks of snow. Once you have enough of a barrier to get yourself out of the wind you can move on to more ambitious projects.

On the second day, assuming you survived the night, and after camp had been packed away, everyone headed back to the large, heated Jamesway where the instructors spent the night in nice, warm, cozy beds. Subjects covering how things went, and radio operations were discussed. Below we are stringing out the wire antenna for one of the High Frequency (HF) radios to do a radio check with South Pole Station.

The end of the course involved a couple of demonstrations of the practical skills learned. To simulate the whiteout we wore buckets over our heads. It was good for a few laughs until you found out how difficult it really would be to find someone if you had to go look for them in a whiteout, or with a bucket over your head.





Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


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Karl pulling sled with Scott tents to our campground.
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Campers pulling supplies to our camping ground.
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Happy Campers and all equiptment at campground, ready to begin setup.
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Happy Campers learrning where we are in relationship to McMurdo.
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Building a Quincy hut. first creat a pile of all your bags, then cover with a min. of 18in of snow, then pack hard, dig hole at base, pull out bags-instant iglo.
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Packing snow on Quincy snow hut.
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Happy Camper "BOB" craweling out of the tunnel from the Quincy snow hut.
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National Science Foundation helicopter eye balling two female happy camper's mooning them as they passed by. This is there 2nd pass, checking to see what they saw the first time is correct.
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Cutting snowblocks for wall to protect campground from wind.
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Camp ground, showing snow wall for protection from the wind and Castle Rock in the background.
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Campground all set up, with wind protection wall built.
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Campground set up. Tall tents on left and right are Scott tents (sleeps 3-4), mountain tents in the middle (sleeps 1-2), Quincy snow hut on right (sleeps 3-4) and snow trench somewhere in between.
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Karl's empty snow trench, showing steps and coffen bed. Square hole in bottom of trench is to trap the cold air,
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Karl in his delux sleeping trench. 6 1/2 feet deep, 4 ft wide, 8 ft long. Sleeping bunk, 9 feet long x 3 feet wide x 2 feet high. Book shelves, benches and steps. It took just over 3 hours to build/dig.
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Dinner is served. Hot water (please don't burn) mixed with food packets.
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Two happy campers enjoying dinner and cool conversation.
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Our happy camper cook making breakfast. She did not burn the water.
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Looking at Mount Discovery from campground.
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Practice searching for a lost person in white out conditions.


24th April 2017

Contact for past instructor
Wonderful to see and read about Happy Camper School. I attended in 1987/88 when it was Snowcraft/survival school.l and took photos for the U.S. Coast Guard. I have a unique photo of instructor Lyn Bowering. I wondered if anyone remembers her and has an e-mail adress I could send the photo to? Keep up the good work. Jerry

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