Posted by: Mary Anna Thornton | February 9, 2014

Learning to Ski in Field Instruction Class

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Conserve School students are lucky this semester to have such an abundance of snow! And what better way to take in the beauty of the Northwoods winter than through cross country skiing on Conserve School’s ten miles of groomed trails.

Skiing was the first lesson on the agenda for Field Instruction, our adventure-based physical education course. Thursday and Friday of the past week, Conserve School Admissions Director Phil DeLong, an accomplished cross country skier, spent his afternoons in Field Instruction with Conserve School students, taking them step by step through the basics of skiing with the assistance of two of our Field Instructors, Rebecca Rand and Katie Framstadt.

As you can see in the photos, Phil started his lessons inside the Lowenwood Recreation Center, with an explanation of the physics of skiing. After Field Instructors helped students find correctly sized shoes and skis, he led the group outside and coached students through the process of fitting their shoes into the ski bindings — harder than it sounds when your skis are slipping around and you have to clear snow out of your bindings! In order to help students learn to balance well, Phil asked them to start out with just skis — no poles. After students practiced balancing while kicking and gliding, Phil demonstrated how to fall and get back up again — an important skill for beginners. Finally, he let students try skiing with their poles.

I visited Field Instruction on Friday afternoon and enjoyed accompanying the group and stepping to the side of the trail from time to time to take photos of students, most of whom were getting on skis for the first time ever. You can see from the photos how hard they were concentrating as they learned to stay balanced while coordinating skis and poles, and you can also see how they improved over time after just a little instruction and practice. It was fun to see the beginners go from cautious to confident!

While teaching, Phil explained to students that James R. Lowenstine, Conserve School’s founder and benefactor, created a list of outdoor activities that Conserve School students should engage in, and skiing was first on the list. It’s a great sport for life-long fitness, since casual skiing doesn’t require a great deal of skill, strength, or athletic prowess — just about anyone can do it — and it’s a wonderful way to get aerobic exercise, enjoy the fresh air, and take in the beauty of nature.

Mary Anna Thornton, Assistant Head of School

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