Antarctica Dispatch

Journal of my Antarctic experience working to support the United States Antarctic Program.

Happy Camper


Down in McMurdo, all personnel that might work in remote camps or outside must go through snow survival school, a.k.a. ‘Happy Camper’. Things like how to walk about in blizzard conditions, build a snow cave, cut blocks of snow to make a wind break, pitch a tent correctly, etc. are taught.

For us Polies there’s not much need for this since we don’t have areas where we go far from the station. However, as another ‘boondoggle’, instructors are brought up from McMurdo to teach classes. Unlike McMurdo, we don’t get time off to partake in this, and so it occurs during our precious time off.

We drove out about 2 miles from the station and setup camp. We were the last class of four, but we still had to erect tents and boil snow. I imagined what the early explorers - Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott as I helped make camp. By the time we were done it was midnight, but in the land of 24 hours of sunlight, you never know unless you look at your watch. I turned in, and for the first time since I arrived, I got over 8 hours of uninterrupted, restful sleep. Not many people can say they slept out outside at the South Pole!


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