Minnesota Wing CAP

Emergency Services

Winter Survival Weekend
25-26 February 2023
Location: Near Bemidji


What is the Winter Survival Weekend?

The Winter Survival Weekend (WSW) was created in 2003 to with two goals:

  1. Teach members to live in extreme cold weather conditions while learning basic winter survival skills.
  2. Teach members to conduct search operations in winter weather conditions.

It is open to all personnel with at least a General Emergency Services (GES) Rating.  Those who have attended previously are welcome to apply to serve as team leaders or staff members.


Safety is always the number one concern at this and any CAP activity.  Contingency plans will be in place before the activity to ensure that personnel have somewhere to go if we are unable to get them warmed up in the field. 

Friday night, personnel arrive and hike into the woods in small teams as they arrive and prepare the campsite and their personnel shelters for the night.  This takes up most of the night. 

Saturday, after waking up and eating breakfast, shelters are critiqued and improved for the following night.   This takes a few hours in the morning.  Late morning and after lunch, personnel work on search training.  The exact agenda varies every year but generally includes various search training scenarios that extend into the afternoon and evening. 

Sunday after breakfast, personnel usually wake up, pack up their gear, clean up the campsite area and then hike out of the woods.

This schedule varies from year to year and may be modified as the weather dictates.

Upon successful completion of the activity, personnel will earn the Winter Survival activity patch pictured above.



  • Project Officer: 2Lt Alec Newbowers, newbowers@gmail.com, 507-676-3943
  • Incident Commander: Capt Todd Hamiter, thamiter@mncap.org"
    • Safety Officer: TBD
    • Public Information Officer:
    • Ground Branch Director:
    • Logistics Section Chief:
      • Communications Unit Leader:
        • Mission Radio Operator:
    • Planning Section Chief:
    • Finance/Admin Section Chief:
    • Mission Staff Assistant(s):

Personnel may also apply for all other incident staff positions.  Trainees are always welcome.  If interested, email Lt Newbowers with what positions you would like to train on no later than 17 February 2023.



Since Ground Team Members need to learn to be self-sufficient on real missions, participants will be largely responsible for themselves at this activity.  Members will be responsible for their own medications.  Please notify the staff of any medical conditions, but be prepared to administer your own medications. 

We recognize that not everyone can afford to buy military gear to support extreme cold winter operations.  Conservative civilian clothing (avoid bright colors if possible) is allowed to be used for this event including hats/gloves/mittens/snow pants/boots/etc.  Please comply with the uniform regulations whenever possible and practical, but do not let them hinder your ability to stay warm in the field.  Safety comes first!

Participants should plan to arrive between 0800 and 1000 hours local on Saturday to the Northland Squadron HQ located on the Bemidji Airport.  From there, we will shuttle you out to the site.  We will be complete by 1200 on Sunday and will shuttle all personnel back from the site by that time.  Anyone expecting a ride should plan to be picked up by 1200 hours at the Northland Squadron HQ.

Driving Directions to Northland Squadron HQ: Take Hwy 2 west of Bemidji. Turn toward the Bemidji Airport, onto Moberg Drive. Stay to the left and head toward a chain-link gate. Come up to it and push the number 4466 on the number pad to your left before the gate. Once the gate opens and you go through, take the small road to your left. Follow that straight to the end. The last hangar is Northland Composite Squadron. If you have a GPS, the address is 4503 Hangar Dr NW, Bemidji.

Participants need to bring their own food  that can be prepared in the field.  Campfires will be going 24 hours a day to ensure personnel have somewhere to cook and warm up at.  We usually have a pot of boiling water going to provide water for meals and drinking.

A funded training mission number is available for CAP members to receive gas reimbursement for transportation to and from the activity.  Mission Number is TBD

Use of POV transportation to and from the Mission Base is covered in CAPR 77-1 as supplemented in paragraph 1-8b in the link below.

MN Wing Supplement 1 to CAPR 77-1 (PDF)

Step to step guidance to comply with this regulation and be reimbursed for travel requires:

  •  A letter from your Group, Squadron, or Flight Commander authorizing you to use your POV for transportation to from and/or on the mission.
  •  Upload that letter with your Registration/Cab Card and Insurance ID Card as a pdf or jpg file when entering you vehicle into WMIRS.
  •  Enter sorties into WMIRS for your travel to and from the Mission Base.
  •  Complete a CAPF73 for your vehicle for the trip.
  •  Refuel prior to departing and upon returning from the Mission Base.:
  •  Complete your debriefing entries in WMIRS.
  •  Upload a completed MNWGF10vez with your receipt for the fuel you put in upon return from the Mission and the CAPF73 into WMIRS.

All participants are to contact the Ground Branch Director when you depart with your departure time, number of personnel and approximate arrival time at the activity. 

Units with EF Johnson handheld radios are asked to bring them with.  Please also bring DF gear as well as litters (stretchers) if you have one.  Please ensure your unit number is clearly labeled on all CAP assets and check them in at sign-in.  We do not need more ISRs.  Please do not bring them as we will not be responsible for them. 


Tips and Best Practices

COTTON SOCKS ARE PROHIBITED and COTTON CLOTHING IS HIGHLY DISCOURAGED!  Do not show up with cotton socks or other clothing.  It is a guaranteed way to get frostbite on your feet and to keep you from being warm at all during the weekend.  Wool or Synthetic blends are the best.  Anyone who shows up with Cotton socks will not be allowed into the field.  Most white athletic socks and cheaper long underwear are cotton.  Read the labels on your clothing to ensure you do not have cotton items. 

This document is a list of tips and best practices compiled over the years for living and working in extreme cold conditions.  Please review them before the activity to help ensure you have the right gear.  If you have any additional suggestions to add, please email 2Lt Newbowers at newbowers@gmail.com

Tips and Best Practices Document (PDF)


Apply Online

You must have a GES Rating on your 101 card in order to apply.  The system will prevent you from applying if you do not have this  and typically takes a day to update from National's system.  Please do not wait until the last minute. Deadline for applications is 24 February 2023. 


There is no cost for this activity.

Bring the following paperwork with you to the activity:

Direct all application related questions to 2Lt Alec Newbowers at newbowers@gmail.com.


Civil Air Patrol - Minnesota Wing Headquarters
6275 Crossman Lane, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
Phone 651-291-0462   Fax: 651-552-7007
Directions to Wing HQ Facility