The Difference Between Weather and Climate When Camping in a Teepee
Oh sure, with the sun out it’s warm.
These things are drafty!
It’s important to understand the difference between weather and climate when camping.  Simply put, weather is day to day.  Climate is not.  Climate is how a region behaves over the long term.
Case in point.  Wisconsin is just below the Canadian border.  It’s by the Great Lakes.  It has cooler summers than New Jersey, way south of it.  We forgot about this when we went camping one summer.  I mean we knew to take layers: long pants, tee-shirts, long-sleeved flannel shirts, sweatshirts, windbreakers, quilted raincoats. 
But we never thought of winter coats and hats and scarves.  It was July!  New Jerseyans don’t think of winter coats in the summertime.  We’re too busy melting in the humid weather.
When camping with the family, you need to remember where you are heading and bring appropriate accessories: blankets, warmer clothing, even heavy coats. 
We were visiting state parks in Wisconsin and Minnesota, right in the middle of the lumberjack championship competition.  We found that out once we got up there.  It was why the campgrounds were so full.  Our son and the twins wanted to go to the competitions.  This was Paul Bunyan territory, with Babe his humongous blue ox.  We even saw the huge statues of Paul and Babe at Paul Bunyan Park by Lake Bemidji in Minnesota.  But the competitions were sold out.  So the children had to satisfy their curiosity watching the lumberjacks practice at camp.  Large piles of logs were splintered daily.  The kids loved it!
But back to my climate story. 
It was maybe 60 degrees and drizzly.  The sun hadn’t shown its warm face for two days.  Then one night the temperatures dipped to 40 degrees. 
This was colder than when we camped in Newfoundland.  And would you believe, that was the only night we had rented a reproduction of a Native American Plains teepee for the family at camp—with no hook-ups.  We thought it would be a novelty for everyone. 
Oh, it was a novelty all right.
“Rent a teepee!”   My husband grumbled as his whole body shivered violently.
“It sounded good in theory.”  I tried to console him—and steal some of his heat.  But he kept moving away.  I needed contact for this heat thing to work.
We all slept in a huddle in the middle of the teepee and wore all our clothes and then heaped whatever didn’t fit over everything else on top of the blankets. 
My husband tried to roll over again.  He fluffed the blankets; and then fluffed them again.
I never knew such a disruptive heat source!  You would think with seven warm bodies inside a tiny teepee, we could produce enough heat to warm up the space slightly.
Unfortunately not.  Did you know that real teepees have open air space at the bottom?  This teepee came within three inches of the ground.  The thick canvas was attached to long wooden poles secured to a concrete pad covered in what looked like AstroTurf.  Even the top of the teepee was open, just like you see in books and Native American artwork.  You know, the flap that is peeled back to let the smoke from the fire out the top of the teepee.
Fire!  Gosh, did we wish we had the benefit of a warm fire that night.  But nooo, only the rain came through that opening.  It also dripped down the outer log poles and left puddles around the base of the teepee.  I thought for sure they’d become ice before dawn. 
My noes hurt it was soo cold.  I shivered and shook so much; I almost fell off the port-a-potty.  
It was a fluke, the locals said the next morning while wearing their winter coats—complete with hats and gloves.  It never goes below 50 degrees in the summer; they assured us. 
We learned our lesson.  When heading north, bring out the heavier coats. 
The sun finally returned to the area, though, while we hiked to the source of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park in Minnesota.  It burned brightly in a crystal blue sky and the temperature shot up to a toasty 65 degrees.  The next night wasn’t so cold and the week continued to warm up for us.  However, we were very happy to be back inside our camper for the rest of the camping vacation.
When you want to try something unique at camp, make sure you know what is provided.  Somehow we missed the fact that the teepee was just that, a teepee…with nothing inside.  We had our camping gear, but we didn’t know it would be so airy.  Of course knowing about the climate of a region you plan to camp in helps too.
            I hope spring returns soon to your area.

26 thoughts on “The Difference Between Weather and Climate When Camping in a Teepee”

  1. Hello and welcome to Camping with Kids, Sherry! Yes, I hope the next camping trip remains 70 degrees or warmer. Thanks so much for visiting Camping with Kids. Please stop by again to see more adventures.

  2. Too funny. That's exactly how San Francesco is on the bay. The first time I ever went to visit my mom and sister, my daughter was 2. They took us to Fisherman's Wharf and I had to buy thick sweat shirts and hats for me and the baby.

  3. San Francisco weather can be so unpredictable. I remember it being chilly and blustery when we visited, too. But that's another story. Thanks so much, Marie, for visiting Camping with Kids. Your notes are always appreciated.

  4. Yikes, that sounds cold. I love the woods and hiking, but only for the day. After that, plumbing and electricity are so wonderful. Plus four walls and a roof. Camping is not my thing.

  5. Isn't it, though. Paying attention to the details of what you want to rent and to the region's climate can be the difference between having a comfortable camping experience and having yet another surprise adventure to put down in the memory books. Thanks so much, Dawn, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. It's appreciated.

  6. Hello and welcome, Tamara, to Camping with Kids. Hiking in nature is the more important thing to enjoy. However with five children, camping was a frugal way to see the world. Thank you so much for visiting my Camping with Kids blog, Tamara. Please stop by again.

  7. That must have been an interesting experience. Well at least you can say that you slept in a Teepee. Not many people can say they've done that. You stories are always so interesting. I always enjoy reading them. Thanks!

  8. Very well written post, Victoria. Brought back memories of several camping, the coldest one in mid-August 1980 backpacking with two of my children and some relatives into the High Uintahs in northern Utah. It began snowing and through the night. I remember huddling with my daughter Jen, who wasn't disabled then, in a pup tent. We never did get warm. Camping is indeed a frugal way to camp with kids, but as you say, there's always the unexpected. I see you're writing camping stories for a book. A great idea! You definitely have a lot of material. And I see from your sidebar you also have "special" children. I love reading personal experiences. Keep writing them!

  9. Hello and welcome to Camping with Kids, Ann! Thank you so much for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated. Yikes! backpacking in the snow! I've only backpacked in the heat of summer with two of my children. I can't imagine trying to warm up in the night with snow lying just outside the tent. I bet it was beautiful up there, though. I agree with you. Sometimes you can't seem to get warm once you are that cold. Huddling with others helps the blankets or sleeping bags get a bit warmer. My oldest is special needs. She's a treasure to be sure. All our children are. We would be lost without them. They are our memories and our joy. Thanks again, Ann, for visiting Camping with Kids. Please stop by again!

  10. While I love my seasons, Bill, after that night in the teepee when all we did was shiver, I'd rather camp in the heat, too. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Camping with Kids. I hope all is well.

  11. I remember days camping when I was a kid in Ontario that it got cold enough in the summer to wear winter coats. It's awesome that you and your family camped in so many places. What adventures! I've never camped in a teepee, but my husband and I have stayed in a yurt. We got a new tent for Christmas and we plan to make good use of it this year.

  12. Hello and welcome, Christine, to Camping with Kids. So wow! I looked up the yurt. It looks gloriously spacious compared to our tiny teepee; however, any portable home would look larger with less people in it. Did you have heat in it or need it? But the big question is, were you on this side of the world or in Asia when you stayed in a Yurt? A new tent. Congratulations! We started camping with kids in an ancient pop-up trailer. It was a tent on a platform. That's all. You can see a picture of it here: Thanks so much, Christine, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Please stop by again.

  13. I camped in Montana in July. We had sleeping bags, but quickly ran to Wal Mart to buy portable heaters for our tents. It snowed! In July. This WV girl wasn't ready for that at all.

    Settlers had to be some tough people!

  14. Hello and welcome to Camping with Kids, Elizabeth. Yikes! Sleeping bags can't cut it when it's cold enough to snow while camping in a tent. I don't care what rating the bag has. My son has a mummy bag that's supposed to keep you warm even in 30 degree weather. Yes, he shivered in the teepee with the rest of us–although…maybe not as much as the rest of us, come to think of it. You know, Elizabeth, I'd be running to Wal Mart, too, for heaters, fleece wear, anything to keep warm. Thanks so much for leaving a note on Camping with Kids. It's greatly appreciated. Please stop by again.

  15. I don't think many people would think of winter gear in the summer- but it definitely gets chilly in certain places even in the summer. 🙂 Loved the story! Great post!

  16. Thank you so much for your kind words, Jess. They are greatly appreciated. Yes, we need to consider where we are heading when Camping with Kids. And, of course, bring much more than we think we will ever need! Thanks for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Please stop by again.


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