Teaching kids to get outside, even in the winter

Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Featured, Great Big World | 0 comments

Snowshoeing, skiing and hiking are outdoor sports that can be done in the dead of winter. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ken Lambert)

Snowshoeing, skiing and hiking are outdoor sports that can be done in the dead of winter. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ken Lambert)

Virgil Hovden’s interest in winter perhaps goes a bit deeper than most.
He’s a fan of the famous Iditarod Trail sled dog race, and he and his wife, Tracie, spent a month in Alaska in 2004. They visited Nome a year later to see the race’s conclusion.

IDITAROD 2013 COVERAGE


EDITOR’S NOTE

The Junior Dispatch is once again planning to offer complete coverage of the Iditarod dog sled race and our coverage will officially start on Friday, March 1, but be sure to catch some early coverage all through out February.

Junior Dispatch invites you to participate by commenting or e-mailing juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com with your thoughts on this story or the race by submitting artwork you’ve created.

READING PROJECT
Along with the Iditarod coverage, we will also be presenting a serialized novel, as we do every year during the Iditarod. This year, we will present “Rescue Dog of the High Pass” by Jim Kjelgaard a story about a young man and his dog working in the famed St. Bernard Pass in Europe.

The reading project will include videos, vocabulary words, coloring pages and other things for kids to do.

Get the FREE Gutenberg.org version of “Rescue Dog of the High Pass” here.

“Maybe the greatest sporting experience of my life. I am still amazed at the bond and teamwork that each musher must have with their dogs — just unbelievable,” he said.

When conditions are right, Hovden runs a dog team of his own across the rural Buchanan County countryside.

But he is also a physical education teacher in the Dunkerton School District, and a good portion of the school year plays out during Iowa’s coldest months.

With a $1,000 grant from the McElroy Foundation and AEA 267, Hovden found a way to combine his passion and his job. Hovden used the money to buy 20 pairs of snowshoes.

He had a couple of reasons. First, snowshoeing, as the kids discovered, demands a physical investment from participants, beginning with getting the footwear in place.

“Snowshoeing is a way to keep kids moving. Just getting the bindings on takes some effort,” Hovden said.

Figuring out the motion needed to walk strains other muscles.

“They’ve got to spend time doing it,” Hovden said.

According to Snowshoe Magazine, the gear can indeed be part of a workout. Stride for stride, snowshoeing in powder on level terrain typically burns at least 45 percent more calories than walking at the same pace.

The added benefit comes from the weight on the feet, greater resistance in the snow and cold temperature, which requires a person’s metabolic rate to increase.

But it’s still considered a low-impact exercise, according to the magazine, putting less strain on joints.

Beyond exercise, snowshoeing represented a unique topic for Hovden’s PE classes.

“I haven’t offered that before,” he said.

Deep snow, the kind that make snowshoes helpful, hasn’t been a problem recently. Monday, cleats meant to grip ice were more useful. But even so, Joy Keller’s fifth-grade class found a few lingering drifts along fences to test the technology.

MaKenna Miller-Verduyn, one of those students, enjoyed the brief outing. But she does not anticipate buying snowshoes any time soon.

“They wouldn’t stay on my feet,” she said.

She’s also not as big a fan of winter as Hovden.

“I wish it was over,” Miller-Verduyn said.

As of Monday all the students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Dunkerton have tried what is likely a new experience for most.

“This week we’ll start over — if Mother Nature allows,” Hovden said.
___
Reported by DENNIS MAGEE of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier from DUNKERTON, Iowa (MCT)
(c)2013 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
Visit Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) at www.wcfcourier.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

Snow shoes used to be made out of wood and wicker, but now strong, but lightweight plastic is more common. (AP Photo/The Columbian, Troy Wayrynen)

Snow shoes used to be made out of wood and wicker, but now strong, but lightweight plastic is more common. (AP Photo/The Columbian, Troy Wayrynen)

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