In Outdoor Skills class, our primary goal is to inspire each other to engage with the natural world through outdoor recreation and adventure. Of course, in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, the type of outdoor recreation available and the backdrop for our outdoor adventures change with the seasons. Every semester in the colder months of Outdoor Skills class, we embrace and learn to enjoy winter’s beauty on cross country skis. This semester, we have spent class time learning to ski both the extensive groomed trails on campus, as well as the frozen lakes and unbroken powder of the Sylvania Wilderness Area. We have skied the twisty, turny single track trails through the brilliant shades of green, as well as open stretches of frozen lakes under sunny skies.
Regardless of the setting, the smiles on students’ faces the first time they clip into a pair of skis is contagious. During our first lesson, I remember students exclaiming, “this feels so weird” and “how do I move my body forward?” After months of practice, the students look like they've been skiing for much longer than seven weeks. Skiing is a fabulous sport in that regard - it’s easy to pick up and accessible to many learners and different ability levels. Cross country skiing is also an excellent lifelong pursuit. While both relatively gentle on the body and fun at many different intensity levels, it’s a pastime that we hope Conserve School students will take with them for years to come. As joyful as skiing is in the moment, I like to imagine Conserve School alumni cross country skiing on the snow-covered trails of the future, 60, 70, maybe 80+ years from now, remembering their time together at Conserve School, their connection to our Lowenwood campus, and hopefully, the value that comes with years of snowy adventures from a lifetime spent outdoors.
Photos contributed by Rebecca Rand, Outdoor Skills Teacher and Stefan Anderson, Head of School.