Warner Nature Center Winter Survival Party

First a small announcement on Birds and Beers. I will not be able to host one in February, my travel schedule is just not conducive to it this month, I'm really sorry, I miss you guys! If you want to have one without me, please do, but the next one I will host will be in March.

I have to tell you about a really cool party we had at Warner Nature Center. One of the naturalists, Kirk Mona has shown up to Birds and Beers a few times and he told me about some of their programming. One is a winter survival party that they usually do for kids. I thought that sounded like loads of fun for Non Birding Bill--his birthday is in early February. I asked Kirk if they did adults and he said yes, and so NBB's Winter Survival Birthday Party was planned.

Kirk showed us the many ways to start a fire. He said we could use the old bow method, but this is agonizingly long. A few tried it and we all cheered whenever someone managed to make an ember or a puff of smoke.

One of the big highlights was an enormous quinzhee that the nature center had made on their lake. A quinzhee is a shelter made out of a pile of settled snow. After the snow settles, it can be dug out. The above photo is actually two quinnzhees connected with a tunnel.

Of course, we all had to go inside. This a view from inside the quinzhee and through the tunnel to the other side.

We split up and went into either side, but of course we had to try out the tunnel. It was crazy to see the ice right under foot. It was an adult snow fort, I'm surprised and nasty snowball fight did not ensue.

There were little carved out areas in the walls for sleeping or to be used as benches. There were a few nooks too for candles, apparently some groups have slept inside the structure this year. It was surprisingly warm inside, although the ice on the floor from the lake was quite chilly. If you sat or knelt directly on the floor, you felt it quickly.

Kirk guided us through the construction. The snow needs to be piled and then needs to settle for a few days before you can dig it out. There were also sticks in the walls and ceiling to give you a guide as to how deep you need to dig out the inside. This one was so large, my five foot body could stand erect in the center of the dome. It was a most awesome snow fort!

After fun in the quinzhee, we got to try out our fire startin' skills. Kirk taught the types of wood to look for, how to make kindling, the proper way to cut the wood, and how to pile it all together. We sent forth into the woods to gather our material.

We divided into 2 teams. One group tried to start the fire the way Kirk had demonstrated to the group. NBB's team wanted to try his magnesium flint knife. He got lot of sparks, but ultimately, they ended up using matches to get the fire going.

We stood around one of the small fires, sang to NBB, and he stomped out the fire. It was a very manly, wintry outdoor party. We really lucked out with the weather. It was pushing forty degrees for most of the afternoon, so it was very pleasant. After all the work, we headed back indoors, I brought cupcakes and the fixin's for s'mores.

I have to say that Kirk really did an outstanding job of keeping the party educational and entertaining. Everyone had a great time--and these were mostly theater people attending, not your typical outdoor types and they still had fun. If you're looking for a unique party or event, give Warner Nature Center a call. If you don't live anywhere near here, give your local nature center a call. Many nature centers have birthday programs that can be easily tailored to adults.