It was 1975 and the Vulcan District of the Birmingham Area Council, was having it’s Winter Camporee at Oak Mountain State Park. All I remember was attempting to sleep in a square top sleeping bag of unknown quality. I am sure it was purchased at Sears or Kmart and temperature rating wasn’t even thought about. I wore every bit of clothing I brought and prayed for the night to end.

About the same time I noticed the light that was coming through the green canvas of my tent, I heard a crackle just outside. It was the crackle of a blazing, and warm, campfire coming to life. My fellow Troop 97 scouts must have heard it as well as we all shot out of our tents like they were cannons and made a bee-line for the roaring fire at my Scoutmasters camp site. Just as we got there, Scoutmaster Bill Rogers picked up a stick and started swinging it at us and yelled “Go back to your campsites and make your own fire!”

He was right. We sulked back to our sad and cold fire rings, built our own fires and made breakfast. We had survived the night, it was 13 degrees.

One benefit of that awful night was the Polar Bear Award I received at the next Court of Honor. I am sure there were some other great memories of that trip but I can’t recall any. They must have been frozen away.

As winter approaches I start getting more and more emails from people wanting to know what the requirements are to earn the Polar Bear award. It seems that there are scouts who actually want to earn this award. Go figure.

To earn the award the temperature must get to:

32 degrees for Cub Scouts

19 degrees for Boy Scouts

If your unit has been on an outdoor campout and the temperature made it to the degrees above, then swing by the Birmingham or Huntsville Scout Shop and purchase a patch.

Good luck to all of you hunting that elusive Polar Bear, one time was all I needed.

**The Polar Bear patch in the picture above is a little different than the one you will purchase. This is mine and it is proudly sewn to my red scout jacket. The camporee patch below is also on the jacket. 


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