Providing outdoor recreational opportunities for kids, and adults too, are key to developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout the long Midwest winter season. Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC) kicked off the Nordic Rocks for Schools Program five years ago to do just that – get kids active outside to enjoy winter, while learning a new recreational activity.
Based upon the success of the school program, which has introduced more than 17,000 kids to Nordic skiing last winter, CXC expanded the Nordic Rocks program to include community and regional parks and clubs during the 2016-17 winter season. The program expanded further to include retailers as part of the Nordic Rocks for Retail Stores program last winter.
“The Nordic Rocks program is about enhancing the quality of life, locally and statewide, through recreation and education,” said Jessica Finn Allen with the Lake Minnewashta, Minnesota Regional Park Nordic Center. “The purpose of the Parks and Recreation Department is to provide a variety of quality recreational experiences, services, and lands that meet the needs of the residents and park users – the Nordic Rocks for Parks and Clubs program fits the bill perfectly.”
Lake Minnewashta Regional Park was the second park to host a Nordic Rocks program in 2017. Throughout the winter, Allen hosts several events at the park, inviting school groups for an introduction to cross country skiing, to enjoy winter, and to experience the park trails.
Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji, Minnesota was the first park to implement the Nordic Rocks for Parks Program. With the help of numerous supporters, including the Bemidji Super 8 Hotel, which helped fund the initial purchase skis and poles, park visitors were invited to use the skis on the park’s groomed trails free of charge. The program proved so successful that the Friends of Lake Bemidji State Park purchased additional equipment.
“As a result of the Nordic Rocks for Parks and Clubs program, more than 4,000 people annually have experienced the sport of cross country skiing,” noted CXC Nordic Rocks Program Director Bruce Manske. “This is significant, because it is skiing outside of a school setting, providing both kids and adults the opportunity to discover a new winter sport.”
For the 2018-19 season, more than two dozen parks and clubs have committed to offer Nordic Rocks program throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, South Dakota, Colorado and Alberta, Canada.
“This is such an outstanding program,” said CXC Executive Director Yuriy Gusev. “Not only because it is a simple program that introduces kids to Nordic skiing, but it builds upon the fan base for Nordic sports throughout the region.”
As a result of its work with the Nordic Rocks program, this past spring CXC was recognized by U.S. Ski & Snowboard with its Russell Wilder Award for contribution to youth. The Russell Wilder Award is presented annually to recognize the most outstanding effort in America in focusing the interest of youth on skiing.
CXC has developed two sizes of introductory cross country skis for the Nordic Rocks program with snowshoe style bindings, along with adjustable poles, to provide a simple introduction to cross country skiing. Participants are able to ski on any outdoor surface covered with a minimum of two inches of snow, and the Nordic Rocks adjustable poles are also perfect for Nordic Walking.
In addition, CXC provides park activity coordinators and club leaders with the same skiing curriculum and resources and teaching support that is used in the Nordic Rocks for Schools program.
The curriculum is easy to follow and offers learning ideas with both indoor and outdoor activities. CXC will help parks and clubs to connect with local ski shops and skiing enthusiasts to further enhance the Nordic Rocks experience in their community.
For more information on establishing a Nordic Rocks program in your community, contact CXC’s Nordic Rocks Director Bruce Manske (firstname.lastname@example.org).