Okpik or ukpik (the Inupiaq word for snowy owl, pronounced ook pick) is the Great Alaska Council’s winter weather training program. Participants, who should include adult leaders with limited winter camping experience and senior scouts in leadership positions will learn principles of staying warm in a cold environment through proper hydration, nutrition, clothing, shelter and gear. Training will also cover the prevention and treatment of cold weather injuries. Lessons will take place on cooking and sanitation in a winter setting as well as the recognition of winter risks in planning unit activities. Leave No Trace in a winter setting will also be discussed.
Okpik at University of Scouting
Beginning in 2018, basic Okpik training will be available in three one-hour sessions at the University of Scouting:
1) Okpik 101 - Staying warm in the cold
2) Okpik 102 - Winter gear (for beginner and winter gear geeks!)
3) Okpik 103 - Planning for winter risks
Completion of these three courses will result in a Scout or Scouter being “Okpik Trained” and eligible to receive a basic Okpik training patch. This training also fulfills the “Freeze Point” or “Degrees Below” requirement that at least one adult leader be winter camping trained. Note that any military cold weather or survival training also fulfills this requirement.
Scouts or Scouters wishing to refresh their Okpik training are welcome to take one or more of these courses.
Beginning in February, 2019, the council will be offering an advanced Okpik-in-the-Snow course at the Independence Mine State Park. This course is intended for Scouters and older Scouts (16 and above), who are interested in developing and applying winter trekking skills. Most training will take place out-of-doors and requires an overnight stay. Instruction will include coursework focused on shelters (snow shelters and 4-season tent arrangements), sleeping and clothing systems, snow kitchens and lightweight cooking, and winter hazards and risks (including avalanche hazard recognition).
Upon completion of the training, participants will receive an advanced Okpik training patch and a certificate.
What to expect
- Cost is $35 if registered early, $45 for late registration.
- Recommended limit of 2 participants/troop. Scouters and youth 16 and older with winter camping experience.
- Full gear list and schedule provided two weeks before the event.
- Participants will arrive by 6 p.m. Friday with an option to check-in by 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
- Instruction will include limited lecture, most will take place out-of-doors throughout the day. Dress for cold and be prepared to travel on the snow with either snowshoes or backcountry skis.
- Two backpacking-style breakfasts, one lunch, and one dinner provided.
- Program ends Sunday morning