Weather in Finland varies a lot over the year: the temperature difference between the coldest winter nights and hottest summer days can be over 60°C, ranging from -30°C to +30°C. Of course, Kajo takes place in July, the usually warmest month of the year, so we will be spared from the coldest temperatures.
However, Finnish summers are infamously unpredictable. A typical Finnish summer day is 20°C and partly cloudy, but the weather can be anything between 10°C and raining and 30°C and sunny, the nights typically 5-15°C. While the weather during one day is generally pretty consistent, it’s possible we’ll see both of these extremes during the eight days of Kajo – it’s happened before. Checking the weather forecast before the camp won’t be a huge help either, since even though it’s reliable for next few days, the forecast for a week from now will have time to change half a dozen times before we get there. The only guarantee is that it will almost certainly rain at least some at some point during the camp.
This means that a smart scout packing for a camp will make sure they’re prepared for anything and everything the Finnish summer might throw at them, packing clothes from woolen sweaters to water-proof clothing to shorts.
Notice that if you’re planning on travelling in Northern Finland, to for example see the midnight sun, the temperatures there are generally a few degrees lower.
Nature is everywhere in Finland – it’s something we’re proud of. Even city centers see their fair share of birds from gulls to geese to magpies to small songbirds (and, of course, pigeons. There are probably no cities in the world without pigeons). Anywhere with more than a few trees probably has squirrels, and in places with even a tiny patch of woods you can see rabbits or, if you get very lucky, even a fox.
Out of the cities you can see bigger animals as well. When you travel through Finland in a bus or train, keep an eye on the countryside around you. In southern Finland it’s not uncommon to get a glimpse of a deer wandering in a field, and in the north in Lapland reindeer herds sometimes block roads.
Finland does have its small share of technically dangerous animals. The forests are homes to wolves, bears, lynxes and elk (which aren’t dangerous because of sharp claws and teeth, but because they’re huge), but they all avoid people when they can. The only real danger they pose is if you through some miracle get too close to them, or if you accidentally move between a mother bear and its cub. However, it’s unlikely you’ll see any of them. The same goes for the only venomous species of snake in Finland, the common adder or common viper: it will only bite a human if it feels threatened.
The real danger in the Finnish woods are the much smaller critters: the wasps, whose sting hurts a bit, but isn’t deadly, unless you’re allergic (bees and bumblebees are fine, as long as, again, they don’t feel threatened), and ticks, which can carry tick-borne encephalitis or Lyme disease. Ticks are especially common in the south-western parts of Finland, meaning the Turku region and the archipelago. But wherever in Finland you are, it’s a good idea to do a tick-check (see if you have any ticks on you) every night after you’ve left the paved streets of a city, including during Kajo.
Mosquitos in FInland are annoying and their bites are itchy, but they don’t carry any diseases.
Finland is one of the safest countries in the world. It’s generally perfectly safe to be in crowded places with a phone or an expensive camera in hand, or walk the streets alone also after dark (not that it’s ever properly dark in July). The only thing you should do for safety is to not leave valuables unguarded in public places.
There are two main ways of traveling around Finland without owning or renting a car (which you really don’t need to do): trains and buses.
Finland has an extensive railroad system, on which passenger trains are operated by one company, VR. However, it doesn’t reach everywhere, so you can’t take the train to a lot of small places, but for moving between bigger cities they’re faster and more eco-friendly than buses. How many trains run between cities each day varies a lot. For example, between Helsinki and Turku or Tampere there are trains almost every hour, but if you want to go farther or norther, there might only be a few options every day.
Tip: A lot of the time VR has a limited number of cheaper tickets for each train, so if you know you want to travel from one city to another on a certain day, you can get train tickets often approximately half-price of the standard cost if you buy them early. Occationally you can find the cheaper tickets still available a few days before your trip, but if you know you’re travelling on a certain day, a few weeks before the trip there’s almost always some left.
There are multiple bus companies that you can use to travel around Finland, but you can find their schedules all in the same place on the Matkahuolto website. Buses can take you practically anywhere in Finland, though to scarcely populated areas you might only find a couple of buses a day.
Public transport works generally great in Finland: all major cities have a local bus system that can take you anywhere in the city, and often in neighboring cities as well. Helsinki and Tampere also have trams, and the Helsinki region has both subway and local trains. All of the Helsinki region public transport is operated by the same company, HSL, so you can use any and all of the different modes of transport with the same ticket if needed. Prices for in-city public transport are generally around three euros per trip, with the ticket being valid for an hour or two in case you need to change from one transport to another, but it varies between cities. If you plan on using public transport a lot for a few days, you can usually also get a tourist ticket that allows you unlimited trips and is valid for those few days or a week.
Some cities, like Helsinki, Turku and Kuopio, also have “city bicycles” as part of their public transport. There are stations where you can take the bike and return it to another station closer to where you want to go. As long as you stay in the stations’ range, these are a good way to move around: faster than walking, but more environmentally friendly than buses. And, of course, nowadays electric scooters that you get access to through an app have also taken over Finnish cities.