Taking the youth group to Niobrara State Park

Discussion in 'Let me tell you about my trip' started by Gjburkey, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. Gjburkey

    Gjburkey Member

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    I posted a review of NSP in the campground review page, if anyone wants info about the campground you might find more there.

    We had planned a camping trip with our church youth group for October 6-8. So, although the forecast wasn't ideal, everyone had taken off work, etc, and it was going to happen whether the weather cooperated or not.

    It didn't. At least, not the first day. We had about a three hour drive to the campground, amid rain and thunderstorms the entire way. The temperature kept dropping, and when we pulled into the campground around 5:30, it was windy, rainy, and about 37 degrees. Someone said they saw snow along the road at one place, and we found out later that it actually had sleeted a bit earlier in the day.

    We got into the campsite and started setting up tents. If you don't have a good set of rain gear, I recommend getting some. I have an old army surplus set of Gore-tex pants and coat, and I was very thankful to be able to use it. Everyone pitched in and we got tents and rain flies and tarps up in pretty good time. Then I went to set up our PUP. It wasn't raining too badly by then, but my wife and I got it up and water tight in pretty short order, maybe 10 minutes max. I was pretty pleased with how well that went, since this was only our second time actually camping with it.

    My pup has an AC unit that also has a heat setting. I had foolishly believed that the electric heat could keep us warm enough, but found out quickly that was not the case. I guess the electric heat is for chilly nights that get down to 50 or so? At mid thirties, we needed the furnace. Fortunately, the furnace in our camper worked very well and we were able to stay warm. We figured out by the second night that it's a good idea to put our heads on the side of the camper opposite the furnace so we don't have to smell exhaust fumes through the canvas. We also had figured out that using the electric heat to supplement worked out well so the furnace didn't have to run as much, and the fan on the electric heat kept the air circulated enough that the temperature was almost as warm in the end away from the furnace as it was by the furnace. I didn't know how much propane I'd use, running the furnace that much, but I never got out of the first 20 lb bottle so we were fine.

    The next issue we ran into was that none of the camper's 110 outlets worked. The GFI on the "first" outlet was tripped and wouldn't hold. Fortunately, one of the youth guys is an electrician. I called him over, and he took a look at it (may I suggest you always carry a Leatherman, as I do?). We discovered that the rain that we had driven in all day, and that was still falling lightly had made my exterior 110 outlet wet, and that was probably why the GFI was tripped. He took out the GFI outlet, and bypassed it (don't ask me how, I'm not an electrician) so that only the outlet with the GFI button on it is still GFI'd. He told me that I'd better keep my hands off that exterior outlet anytime it's wet, and I didn't argue. Please don't take this as a recommendation to mess with your outlets or the GFI's on them, I'm just telling you how we got through this camping trip. (Note: this was not just some kid playing around, he really is a certified electrician and knew what he was doing)

    When we woke up in the morning, there was frost everywhere. The ranger told me that one of the park employees wrecked on his way to work when he hit ice on the river bridge. The kids in their tents got a little cold, I guess, but they bounced back pretty quickly once we got a good fire and some coffee going.

    And it was all good from there. We had beautiful weather that day. The next night was cold too, but they were better prepared, were starting with all dry equipment, and got along just fine.

    All in all, we had a great time. Below is a picture of that first cold morning with frost everywhere.
     

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  2. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    LOL I'm chuckling that you're lamenting that heat didn't keep up in your pop-up when the rest of your camping party was sleeping in presumably unheated tents :)
     
  3. Gjburkey

    Gjburkey Member

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    Yeah.... Well, part of the reason heat was more of a necessity for us is that we have four children ages 6, 5, 3, and 1. It would have been some really long nights if we didn't have a way to keep them all warm.

    As far as the young folks, we warned them many times that it would be in the thirties at night, and while some of them payed attention and had good sleeping bags and extra blankets, at least a few of them didn't plan ahead and wound up pretty cold. But they got an adventure they will remember, so no harm was done.

    All the tents were unheated. I told them before we left that they should check into getting this heater, but no one did. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mr.-Heater-Portable-Buddy-Radiant-Heater/16622306

    It was on sale at our local Walmart for $59. I almost bought one myself, as it looks like a pretty handy unit.
     
  4. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    Had that experience at a father-son campout I took my oldest to about 5 years ago. We were tenting, and it got into the low 30s overnight... woke up and the ground was white with frost. We were prepared... slept pretty cozy in our sleeping bags all night (getting up was a little harder lol). But other dads had come with just light fall jackets and a flimsy summer sleeping bag... a few actually got up in the middle of the night and slept in their running cars.
     
  5. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    The temperatures and conditions sound like camping in Siberia to me! [:O] I have to say it's hard to imagine when it's still in the low 90's here. [SUN]

    Being in a tent is no reason to not have heat. With electric sites, they could have brought along $15 electric heaters from Walmart. I have one and it heats my 11' x 18' tent with no problem. There is that little detail of us living in FL and all, so maybe a higher BTU heater would be in order. Even so, electric heaters would have been on my shopping list for sure.
     
  6. Gjburkey

    Gjburkey Member

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    The tent sites didn't have electricity, so they would have had to use some other kind of heater (like the propane one I linked). At any rate, the ones who had prepared for the weather and brought cold weather sleeping bags and extra blankets were fine. The others were ok, just not comfortable.

    Sent from my XT1080 using Tapatalk
     
  7. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    Oh, I see. I misunderstood when you said none of the other camper's 110 worked. I thought all the sites had power.

    But, yeah, you are all braver than me. Not sure I would want to take a youth group camping even in perfect weather. [:D] My daughter and SIL were youth leaders for years, but they are clearly more brave than me.
     
  8. Gjburkey

    Gjburkey Member

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    I was just talking about the outlets in my own PUP, which we got working once the electrician bypassed the GFI.

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