Kanik (Inuit for "snowflake") is the winter camping program of Philmont Scout Ranch, the most well-known of the three National High Adventure Bases operated by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. This cold weather camping program is based on a similar program called Okpik at Charles L. Sommers in Ely, Minnesota, part of the BSA's Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases. The main goal of the program is to teach participating crews how to camp comfortably in the cold winter months. Philmont has had a winter camping program since 1982, but it wasn't until 1990 that the more expanded Kanik program began. Kanik is considered as one of Philmont's two second season program; the other being Autumn Adventure.
Sessions for the Kanik program are available from December 28 to March 31. Between Christmas and New Years Day a special discounted holiday trek is offered. Weather conditons vary; if there is in adequate snow for cross-country skiiing, then crews are given the opportunity hike in the Philmont backcountry. The program allows for weekend treks, however, Philmont reccomends that crews plan to attend for 3 to 4 days to become fully trained and fully participate in winter activities. Crew sizes range from 6-10 with 2 adult advisors required to participate. Generally, the maximum number of total participants for each session is limited to 40 participants or 4 crews; unlike the several thousand participants during Philmont's summer season. This is done in part to insure safe evacuation out of the backcountry in the event of a blizzard.
On the first night crews arrive, they are housed indoors in heated dorm rooms at Philmont's Base Camp. Subsequent nights are spent in the Philmont backcountry in tents (or in snow shelters if conditions permit) often at Miranda or sometimes the Hunting Lodge. After an initial period of training led by trained Kanik guides, several program options are available to each crew depending upon its interest and the weather and snow conditions. Some program options include: cross-country skiing, snow camping, winter ecology, hiking, and the use of winter tools and equipment. In 2004, a down hill ski package was added to the program options. For an extra fee crews can add a day of down hill skiing to their trek at Angel Fire Ski Resort that includes all meals, housing, a 2-hour ski lesson, lift ticket, and ski equipment rental. This added ski package is not available to crews on the holiday trek.
Each participant who completes training is awarded a distinctive patch as a rememberance of Philmont Kanik. Much like the famous Philmont arrowhead patch awarded after the completion of a Philmont summer trek and service project, the Kanik patch can only be earned.
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