Building a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. That’s the goal of YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch. If you’ve ever wondered how Snow Mountain Ranch aims to do this, one great example is the Nordic Rocks for Schools Program.
Central Cross Country Skiing, a national non-profit dedicated to promoting the culture of cross-country skiing, created the Nordic Rocks for Schools program in 2013. It partners with local schools and community organizations to introduce Nordic skiing to children in kindergarten all the way through eighth grade. The goal is to teach kids about the health and exercise benefits of cross-country skiing while enjoying the outdoors. The program gives school teachers a curriculum to follow to teach kids the skills necessary to Nordic ski during their physical education classes, during recess, and in after-school programs.
The program supplies the schools with all the equipment, like skis, needed to teach the class. But what really makes this program special and successful are the passionate volunteers who dedicate their time and share their love of skiing with new generations. Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center Director Bill Pierce says last year, volunteers clocked roughly 1,100 volunteer hours toward the Nordic Rocks program in Grand County schools.
Snow Mountain Ranch has participated in Nordic Rocks for three years, donating skis and volunteers to help make the program a success. In the 2018-2019 ski season, Snow Mountain Ranch was able to help over 360 kids in Grand County get on skis as part of the three-week program in partnership with the local School district and the town of Granby. This year, Snow Mountain Ranch is working to further improve the program to benefit local kids.
“I think this is the best version I have ever seen of this program,” said Bruce Manske, a Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center staff member and longtime Nordic Rocks affiliate.
Pierce says what makes this program different from other Nordic Rocks programs is that it gives schools more than just the ski equipment and lesson plans. The volunteers and the partners help instruct the students, giving them a more hands-on experience.
“Because of our proximity to the schools, we’re able to get kids on the snow during their school day,” said Pierce. “73 percent of the kids in last year’s program had never been on a pair of skis before Nordic Rocks.”
Pierce says the goal is to give kids a positive outdoor opportunity that’s not typically a part of their daily routine.
Nordic Rocks may only be a three-week program, but Snow Mountain Ranch helps local kids ski for the remainder of the season. Every Sunday from 2:30 – 4 p.m., the Nordic Center offers free Nordic skiing classes and free equipment rentals to all youth from kindergarten through sixth grade to help keep them involved in the sport.
“We hope to reach all of the families in our community,” said Pierce, “so, we start with our kids.”
Click Here for more information on the history of the Nordic Rocks for School Program.
To learn more about the program and Nordic skiing, visit the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center, or give them a call at 970-887-2152 x 4173.