My family and I had our first ski of the season recently. A two-day storm dropped two feet of fluffy, powdery goodness nearby, and we couldn’t pass it up. We tossed our skis, boots and poles in the car and drove 20 minutes to a state forest north of Boston, where we glided through the woods for three hours. It turns out that skiing with kids is quality family time.
As you may have guessed, we’re a Nordic-skiing family that hasn’t made the transition to alpine just yet. I’m sure it’s coming. We can’t hide the big slopes and snowboards from our kids forever, and we wouldn’t want to; if it gets them outside and moving, then it’s a good thing.
But just for a little while longer, I’d like us to stay a cross-country foursome. Here’s why we love skiing with kids:
- It’s peaceful: Nordic skiing offers a pace at which we can enjoy what’s around us. As we skied, we checked out deer and rabbit prints, spotted bat houses in the trees, and listened to chickadees chatting to each other.
- It’s social: In addition to cheerily greeting the other people out skiing, walking and snow-shoeing, my kids talked the entire time. They pointed out things in the woods, commented on the dogs they saw out enjoying the snow with their owners, and reminisced about the past two weeks of holiday vacation. There’s something about the outdoors that both calms my kids and opens them up; I think it’s partly the pride of mastering a skill like skiing that raises their confidence and mood. As a result, some of our best conversations take place when we’re skiing side by side.
- It’s a bargain: The trip to the state forest cost us $7 in voluntary donations to the group that helps maintain the land. But even when we visit our favorite Nordic ski centers, we’re still getting a great deal. In my part of the country, it costs about $70 for four trail passes. Four lift tickets to the same resort’s alpine center? $260.
It took a few winters for us to get to the point where the kids could handle skiing several miles on their own, and it also took a few lessons. We didn’t attempt to teach them ourselves, and I’m glad for that. Enrolling them in lessons was one of the best decisions (and investments) we ever made!
Sometimes when we reach a fun little hill on the trail, they want to stop and go up and down it a few – or a dozen – times. That’s OK. It’s family time well spent.
Kerry A. Crisley wrote this piece for Nature Rocks.