This afternoon I stopped by the Field Instruction class for a little bit to watch students working on building quinzhees (pronounced QUIN-zees), a type of snow shelter. In contrast with igloos, which are constructed out of blocks of ice, a quinzhee is built by piling up and compacting a mound of snow and then hollowing it out. When I was there, students were still in the “piling” stage, some tossing snow onto the mound with shovels while others used snowshoes to pack the snow down. Eventually, students who are interested will have the chance to camp overnight in these shelters with staff supervision.
Building quinzhees not only gets students involved in physical activity outdoors (Field Instruction serves as Conserve School students’ P.E. credit), it also introduces them to a piece of Northwoods culture while they have fun – who doesn’t love building snow forts? At the end of the class period, there was hot chocolate waiting for students inside. We have several feet of snow on the ground with more falling as I type this, but that is completely okay with Conserve School students and staff!