I arrived at the YMCA Camp Millar on Sturgeon Lake on the Thursday of the legendary Minnesota’s annual Winter Camping Symposium. It was the first day of this four-day event, and only half the participants had turned up, but there were well over 100 tents set up. Canvas hot tents were pitched across the field, and the backwoods was cluttered with four season and hammock tents. This is the granddaddy of gatherings for like-minded, snow-loving campers.

Countless workshops filled the schedule. You could sign up to build a freight toboggan, weave your own snowshoes, assemble an antler knife, carve your own wooden spoon and build a traditional Woofum stick (move over S’more kit).

photoKevin Callan

Over forty speakers shared their knowledge of winter camping skills, from Dutch oven cooking to animal tracking. Well-known winter camping experts were there: Sam Larson from the Alone series, Luke Soderling of the Discovery Channel’s survivalists show “The Wheel,” Duane Lottig of Snowtrekker Tents, Don Kevilus of Four Dog Stoves, Kevin Kinney of Empire Wool and Canvas Company and Dan Cooke of Cooke Custom Sewing Co. Top notch instructors presented as well: Scott Oeth of Moose Patrol, Nick Gordon of NOW Outdoors, Peta Barrett of Women's Wilderness Discovery, Kelly Harlton of Karamat Wilderness Way and Kelly Hargesheimer who traversed 100 kilometres across the Boundary Water by snowshoe and toboggan.

photoKevin Callan

Participants came from around the globe. Canada was represented by Jonathan McArthur of Karamat Wilderness Ways and Brian Rice of Three Ravens Bushcraft and one of the organizers of Frostbite (Canada’s version of the Winter Camping Symposium).

The main goal of the Winter Camping Symposium is to educate, collaborate and celebrate everything winter. Make sure to check this event out. It’s incredible!

photoKevin Callan

I was lucky enough to be the keynote speaker for the Saturday night. I captured a good majority of the event on video. Check it out:


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