The temperatures are taking their usual wintry plummet downward, and the fluffy, white, frozen rain has covered the immediate surrounds, making the treasured view of the garden, forest, bird sanctuary, bike trail, fountain, landscape, football stadium, neighbors heated pool, and other structures, harder to define and engage. It must be the perfect timing for families to pull out layer upon layer of clothing, puffer jackets, down filled aviator hats, statement scarfs or hoodies, moisture proof, thermal leggings or long underwear, (two upper layers and a turtle neck for children), lined waterproof boots, thick socks, mittens, lip balm, travel Kleenex, and step briskly, with great enthusiasm, into the wondrous, blustery and challenging, great outdoors.
Igloo and Fort Fights – A Snow Showdown
In this first quarter of the 21st Century, there are very unique things for winter appreciating families to embrace. For a small sum, the purchase of light and flexible snow block makers, helps to speed the process of igloo or fort building, and the snowball battles can commence with much less effort, having created a solid structure for long lasting battle protection. Often, families draw a 7-foot circle in the snow and build a large igloo that is comfy protection, when resting between the tactical fun of team skirmishes. This activity affords the opportunity for unique taking “us-ie” snaps/ family, that will be enjoyed by all and preserved for years to come.
Got Snow? Snowshoe
When the snow fall reaches or exceeds 8 inches, it provides the perfect conditions for strapping on waterproof boots, along with thick wick sweat socks and heading out to snowshoe together. This trendy activity is an incredibly challenging way to commune with nature and receive the “flotation” experience of walking on, not in, deep snow. It is easy to do, so much fun, and a fantastic experience. Today’s shoes are designed for children, mom’s and dad’s, everyone, with a smaller profile, but more effective technology that distributes the wearer’s weight, and allows speed and freedom. Poles can be utilized for extra control. More well-constructed trails are available at parks, now. Having something beautiful to see along the way, like frozen waterfalls and ponds, or icicle-clad trees at sunrise, add to the wonder of the countryside in winter. Taking yummy, mitten tolerating snacks, and walk-breaks, a well-planned choice of terrain, (flat is best for kids), and stopping to make snow angels, or have team races, adds to the fun, and the family’s love of hiking is extended throughout the winter season. The tiny kiddos can enjoy it too, accompanying the family strapped in a backpack carrier or riding on a chariot sleigh, or sled.
Winter Bonfire – Lighting the Night
Fabulousness, on a scale of nice to legendary, as it refers to winter activity, must include for families, building a hemlock crackling, pine fragrant, roaring, popping, blaze of flames bonfire, which lights up the night, lends the sounds of whispering hisses to all ears, and heats the air enough to warm all of the reddened, rosy cheeked faces of its ardent architects. Creating this experience is work but worth it when done with thoughtful care. Gathering the brush, together, is good for the forest bed or backyard environs. Dry bark, pine needles and twigs scattered on top of logs, placed in a rounded teepee shape, which, with snow or ground beneath, can be ignited with cardboard, rolled newspaper, and a gentle flow of breeze. As the flames flow upward, and embers begin to float into the night sky, the beauty and warmth of this wondrous “hands-on” creation, transcends other worldly activity, drawing the participants closer, with whittled, stripped sticks on which hotdogs are roasted, and smores are toasted. The children, or everyone may be inspired to roll a snowman together as near the fire as possible, without melting, to celebrate nature’s gift of frozen rain. The deliciousness and pure beauty of this winter activity should be repeated whenever the snow beckons, and the family cannot resist the sensory delight, bonding time, and pleasurable results of physical efforts, within moments of time that are truly their own.
Snow Tubing, Fat Tire Fun
When cabin fever sets in during the winter, and the inherent exigency for fresh air and open spaces is building, snow tubing awaits the whole tribe, not just the children. Snow is exhilarating for the human spirit, and snow tubing is a downhill ride like no other, requiring courage but not special skills. It brings out the “winter rider” within every family member. Getting to the nearest tubing hill brings on the wow factor that starts deep within and grows as families ascend on the toe line and look down upon the white and wondrous multi-lane run of the tubing course. When Mother Nature blankets the earth with white stuff, inhabitants naturally crave the curving chutes, increasing speeds, feeling of flying, and pull of gravity, as they cascade downward, chilled and thrilled. Even very small children, accompanied by an adult, are welcome to enjoy this activity. The feelings experienced tubing on a PVC fabric, donut shaped, “fat tire”, remains with family members, creating bonding like almost nothing else, and embedding a love for healthy fun that becomes habitual.
That Sound in the Head, It’s a Call to the Outdoors
When winter settles in to a consistent fall of snow, plummeting temperatures, and copious amounts of wind-filled, yet sunny hours in which the terrain actually glistens, the sound heard by families who love outdoor fun, is the quiet roar of nature inviting the moving thrill of the ski slope, gliding, speedily underfoot, as mountain to flat land is conquered by all. From the littlest children, usually age 5 and up, who begin with a well- fitting helmet, structured practice and pizza-wedge moves, to learn control and balance. Teens can get challenged by mogul runs, and night ski adventures with music, in a more relaxed atmosphere, planned just for their level of expertise. Kid-centric activities include snow fort building, scavenger hunts in the snow, winter carnival games and scrumptious treats. The whole family can ski in, then out on local hills or resort locations, and transportation to the lift areas is free. Babysitting is offered for when parents want to test their advanced blue or green line skiing on the worn moguls made from many previous skiers. Some courage is needed to stay out of the trough on the sides of the mogul, to ski with speed but also control and safety. Knowing the technique allows for a truly fascinating run, using balance and agility to the fullest. Each member of the family finds their favorite rhythm on the slopes, and truly embraces the best moments of outdoor fun.
There is a specific terrain for every level of skill, and everyone loves to float up the ski lifts for a rare/from above, mountain view. A passion for this wondrous activity leads to a lifetime of living life to its fullest.
Magical Ice Caving
Numerous families seek winter adventures which are atypical, and truly embrace the most unique efforts that Mother Nature offers to human beings, as they seek to bond with the coldest, and most beautiful of scenic occurrences, taking place under the dome of ice glaciers. These wondrous creations form when streams are created at the bottom of melting glaciers, and this water couples with wind, causing tunnels to form. Ice caves can be found in Alaska, Washington, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and Colorado, and around the globe. The cold turns any wetness into glistening blue and white crystalized formations that look like crashing waves along a shoreline, or the most enormous icicles the mind can imagine. Ice stalactites hang steadfastly from upper cave walls and stretch in giant finger-like formations toward stalagmites sprouting upward from the cave floors. Well trained guides lead excursions into the caves, to see the largest mural-like ice formations, and explain their worth as a map of previous civilizations, and sadly, global climate change. Families dress warmly in thick jackets, hoodies, gloves and waterproof boots, to stay well warmed inside these freezer-like settings. Guests get to carry torches to truly see the magical colorations, and shapes of the ice caves. Crampons [ice cleats] are attached to footwear to stabilize safe stepping ability, although crawling in some areas of these caves is often required. Visiting these natural wonders, people are transfixed by their bright hues of blue, black, gray and white, which are mesmerizing; and the photographs taken, and experience of nature at it’s most raw and powerful, is an activity that demonstrates for every visitor, the strength of nature in extreme conditions, and the rare beauty that unbridled frigid air/water can create.
Icy Fun that’s Just Begun
Intrepid adventure seeking families are always looking for trendy new experiences that challenge, excite the senses, and offer a kind of bonding unlike any other. Within the last two years many fun parks, zoos, and other venues throughout the cities and suburbs where winters chill is happening, families can now climb into a single or double-seated bumper car, grip the double joy sticks and venture out onto the frozen rink to challenge others to bump or run. These donut-shaped, neon-lighted, floating rides may be aimed, with affection, at other family members, total fun loving, ice bumper car driving strangers, or just steered by tapping the sides to confuse and out maneuver siblings and friends. Music fills the frigid air, as these cars slide and glide in unexpected patterns. Races are held. Obstacle courses are conquered and as night falls, the moving pace of the lighting on each bumper car quickens to color the ice, and environs, with magical patterns, and gliding fun. The entire family’s faces ache from laughter, and children often out-steer the parental’s, with their very quick reflexes and well honed “joy-stick” handling. Winter wonder is reborn, or at least reinvigorated when outdoor fun is this inventive and hands-on.
Olympics – Family Backyard Version
Active and exuberant families living in snow environs can and do invent their own, fun filled, challenging and marginally competitive Olympic games, as the most “hands on” and entertaining way to embrace the season. Inventing the games stimulates the imaginations of the participants who discern each other’s strengths and weaknesses, close up, and apply this knowledge as an edge for winning events and getting rewards. There are runners, climbers, and jumpers in ever family, and members with great balance, eye-hand coordination, rolling skills, agility and upper body strength. Putting these facts together helps craft the events which will utilize this athleticism, to test all family members in the most intriguing ways, while making everyone feel like a champion. The following examples of backyard Olympic events are easy to create and offer the kind of epic fun that great memories, selfies and usies (the whole tribe) are made of:
• Slippery Long-Jump: shoveled length of snow creating a long lane approach and measured intervals of length, marked by apples, pinecones, large sticks or other easy-to-see markers. Every contestant gets 3 chances to jump as far as they can, and must remain upright for the jump to earn points
• Snow Throw: Pick a tall tree and with a length of rope or ribbon, make a large loop. Each Olympian stands on a designated spot and gets 10 snowball throws to see how many pass through the loop for points. High score wins
• 100 Meter Snow Dash: Mark off 100 meters/328 feet, clear 3 lanes, each one separated by a foot of snow, and have a timed race.
• 2 Runner/4 Runner Bobsled: Choose favorite slope or hill and have a sledding contest with two winners, one for accuracy on the course, one for speed.
Parents must subtract points for age or size advantage, or stand back further and jump a longer distance, as determined by the family Olympic Committee which consists of everyone, by a voting process or whatever seems the most fun. Inventing the events can be extremely amusing and challenging. Offering up a chance to unbox a surprise from Lucky Poke Games, as a victorious reward for excellence in any outdoor event, adds to the incentive, celebrates the victors and participants, and prolongs the fun in this special season.
Winter’s Cold Offers Amazing Family Adventures
Winter contains a special concentrated joy, if families know where to look. It is the season of togetherness, when many voices proclaim with smiling faces, their love of rigorous, frigid/just cold enough for ice, outdoor, invigorating, shared family activity. At the Lucky Poke Games, winter is celebrated with enthusiasm. Visit soon, to add our poking hole fun to your incredibly interesting and active family life.