Cross Country Skiing with Kids: Final Reflection

Last Thursday, was the last of our eight week ski lessons at Blackhawk Ski Club. It was a beautiful sunny day in the 30s. Perfect. Molly, the instructor had the kids go through a series of games. They skied through hula hoops, played red light green light, and picked up candy on the trail while going downhill. They liked the candy pick-up the best.

I was very proud of these kids. After eight weeks, they were going down hills and skiing with confidence. They could snowplow, stop and start again, and not get flustered by wiping out. It was gratifying to see this.

We started with 13 kids and ended with 9.  Our sole 5-year-old quit after the fourth week. Next year, perhaps we’ll not have little ones do the course. One fifth grader kept saying she was sick, but she wasn’t. I think she struggled because of her weight.  Watching her, I noticed it was difficult for her get up and stay up on skis. The other fifth grader quit after her third grader sister quit. They quit for no specific reason. They just said, “I don’t want to go anymore.” This was very disappointing. There is so much to learn from sticking with something.

For example, one boy was in tears about half way through the program and wanted to quit. He cried, he pouted and he wailed. He called his Mom and begged her to let him quit. Anyone listening would have been sure this kid was being tortured. His mom didn’t yield. I’m glad. He was one happy kid on the last day. He couldn’t stop smiling even when he fell down. The next day, he came up to me as said, “Hi Miss Diane.”  He face was glowing. He was so happy. I was so happy for him.  He learned more than how to ski, but how to finish something he started. He learned how to persevere and reap the rewards of completion. In addition, everyone learned how play outside in really cold weather. They learned about the “other” side of town–the west side. They experienced the culture of cross-country skiing and now have access to a sport which is primarily practiced by middle to upper middle class white folks. (Of the 13 kids who started the course, 5 were African-American, 7 white and 1 mixed. I don’t know income levels).  They met new people and even a blind dog named Izzy.  But most of all, they learned the fun of skiing.

I saw that on Thursday. The kids didn’t care about wiping out. They loved it. They went downhill with confidence, or fell, got up and tried it again.  It was a very satisfying day and one that makes teaching worth it. My hope is that they will keep skiing as adults. Time will only tell.

Next up.. hiking and biking. We have a bon fire planned on March 26th at Picnic Point. A few days later, we’ll be going to the MacKenzie Wildlife Center to learn about maple syrup harvesting.

Stay tuned.

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