Plan your sleep out
An outside sleep out using tents, boxes or other shelter can be done safely by following winter camping protocols. We encourage everyone who is sleeping out to schedule it for Saturday, Nov. 14. Sleep outs will occur all over town on this one night, and yours will be part of the excitement of the larger community movement.
If, however, you have schedule conflicts that night, pick any date from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, preferably a Friday or Saturday night to accommodate work and school schedules.
- Put community health first! This year, due to the pandemic, we’re asking that individuals, families, friends and faith communities sleep out in the safety of their own social “bubble,” choosing an outdoor environment that is safe and secure, and following state COVID-19 safety protocols. Wash hands, wear masks, maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or more, avoid sharing objects and stay home if you are sick. Consult the Minnesota Department of Health for updated guidelines.
- Pick a location. A flat yard is a great option! If you are considering a park, please consult the Parks and Recreation Department in your city to let them know your plans. Plymouth (763-509-5201); Wayzata (952-404-5361); Long Lake (952-473-6961).
- Invite people in your social “bubble” to join you. Answer any questions they might have.
- Create a Sleep Out fundraiser (instructions here) to spread the word and ask people to support the Interfaith Outreach Sleep Out in honor of your efforts.
- Plan a service project that evening. Read instructions and purchase supplies ahead of time: create healthy snack packs for kids, repack pet food, repack laundry soap or make fleece blankets.
- Borrow tents or ask area merchants for large boxes to accommodate sleepers.
- Determine food/refreshments and decide who will bring what (or if any area merchant will donate the food).
- If you plan to have a campfire, determine a safe site, wood supply, emergency water buckets, etc.
- Plant a “You Belong” yard sign as a visual reminder to your neighbors.
- Download and print our Sparking Compassion guide for stories and conversation prompts to facilitate empathy-building discussions with your group.
- Download and print our Budgeting through Poverty activity that explores the challenges many neighbors face in making the monthly math work.
- Invite those sleeping out to watch the Sleep Out Virtual Kickoff on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.
- If your group would like an Interfaith representative to stop by, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
- Plan to grab a photo of your group near your boxes, tents or fire! Tip: snag a photo while it’s still light out or be sure to use a strong flash! (That night, post on social tagging Interfaith Outreach and using hashtags #SleepOut25years and #BeLikeBobChallenge.) Or, you can email photos to email@example.com so we can share on social for you.
A few days in advance
- Inspect the site during the day, and remove any hazards or large rocks from where you want to locate your tents or boxes.
- Identify closest restroom facilities for campers to use during the night.
- If there is snow on the ground, pack it down before setting up your tent.
- If the snow pack is several inches thick or the ground is too frozen, tent stakes may not work. Attach a 4’ to 6’ cord to each of your tent stake-out points, and tie them off to a rock, log or heavy household item (like a gallon milk bottle filled with water) to secure your tent. If you are set up in a “tent city,” share anchors.
Tips for staying warm
- Place a tarp and a layer or two of cardboard directly on the ground before raising your tent. Place a layer of carpet padding (if available) on the bottom of your tent. Always use a pad under your sleeping bag in the winter. An ensulite pad (closed cell foam) or Thermarest camping mattress works better than a regular foam or air mattress. It’s not as soft but is much warmer! Many people suggest two pads. Insulating yourself from the ground is more important than insulating from cold air.
- Do not sleep on a cot. It is much colder than sleeping on the ground.
- Use a winter weight sleeping bag and don’t forget your pillow.
- Wear a warm hat, preferably wool, all night. It will keep your feet warm too! Wear dry wool socks to bed but avoid the temptation to wear too many layers of clothing or a coat inside your sleeping bag. Your body heat will warm the sleeping bag for you. Cinching up your mummy bag so that only your eyes, nose and mouth are exposed is another way to hold in heat.
- Don’t breathe into your sleeping bag at night. Breathe through a stocking cap or bandana instead. Moisture from your breath will introduce moisture in your sleeping bag and reduce its insulating ability.
- Put a bottle of warm water in the foot of your sleeping bag. It will keep your feet warm during the night. Be sure it is sealed tight, doesn’t leak and is not wet on the outside. You can place it inside a large Ziploc bag if you are unsure of the integrity of the seal.
- Vent your tent as much as possible at night to reduce condensation on the inside of the tent walls. The few degrees of warmth lost is preferable to having moisture collect inside the tent.
- Shared body heat will help to keep people warm and cozy as you sleep out with family in your “bubble.”
- Do some mild exercise before getting into your sleeping bag. Jog up and down the street or do some light calisthenics to increase circulation. It will help you to warm up and warm your sleeping bag quicker. DO NOT work up a sweat, as moisture is the enemy of warmth.
- If you have an equipment failure, get wet or find that your equipment is not adequate, move back inside and complete the night inside, on the floor or a couch. This turns your Sleep Out experience into a just as important “Sleep In” experience (see next section). And, it is better to err on the side of caution than to suffer frostbite or exposure.
- Dress in layers so you can easily adjust your clothes to regulate body moisture and temperature: a liner against your skin (long johns), insulation (fleece) and a waterproof and windproof outer shell.
- Wool or synthetic materials are much better than cotton, which loses its insulating qualities when it gets wet. Cotton also takes a long time to dry out.
- Wear boots with waterproof outer shells such as oiled leather or plastic.
- Protect against heat loss through your head by wearing a wool cap, toboggan, balaclava, etc. Over half of your body heat can be lost through your head. A balaclava helps protect your face and neck from cold and wind. It can also be worn as a toboggan or scarf while sitting around your campfire.
- Wear wool socks, but don’t wear too many pairs. If the blood flow to your feet becomes constricted, your feet will get cold regardless of how many socks you have on. Boot laces that are too tight will constrict the blood flow as well.
- Make sure your gloves, especially liners, are not too tight so they don’t constrict the blood flow and keep your hands from warming up.
Other winter camping tips can be found online.
For more information on the Sleep Out and how you can experience its transformative power, view or download our Sleep Out “toolkit.”