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Family Day highlights included a snowshoe clinic at the Ponoka Golf Club

Vaden McArthur enjoyed his snowshoe trek Feb. 19 at the Ponoka Golf Club. The snowshoe clinic was one of several events held around the community on Family Day. (Mark Weber/Ponoka News)

It couldn’t have been a better winter day, complete with sunshine and blue skies, to give snowshoeing a try this past Family Day in Ponoka.

Many events were happening around town on Feb. 19, including a snowshoe clinic which was held at the Ponoka Golf Club.

Brent Wilson of the Baden Powell Service Association, which specializes in traditional scouting, was on hand to help folks become familiar with snowshoeing if they had little or no previous experience with it.

“We have 12 kids ages eight and above in our group right now and we’ve been promoting our snowshoeing this year,” he explained.

“We’ve also put a lot of effort into improving our equipment, and so we are out here today on Family Day to help other people learn to enjoy it, too. It’s great.

“We enjoy our times with the kids — getting outside. I’m just as guilty as anyone else for staying inside,” he added with a laugh.

“But our group gets me outside — it’s so much nicer.”

To that end, Wilson said snowshoeing offers a terrific means of getting out and exploring nature.

“I go out on the river a few times each year with my dogs, and it’s great fun. I just love the exercise, and getting out. It’s a different way to explore nature in the winter because you can go somewhere that you wouldn’t normally go in the summer,” he explained.

“I enjoy that.”

Meanwhile, the snowshoes of today bear little resemblance to the much larger version of years back, he said.

“They used to be made of wood and sinew, and now they are all metal and plastic,” he said.

“It makes them lighter, and a lot easier for the average person to put on and use for the first time. These just work much easier.”

Some folks may still believe that snowshoes can be heavy and clumsy, or that they may tend to lose their balance and fall over if they give the activity a shot, he noted.

To help prevent that, poles are often used to help folks keep a better sense of balance, particularly if they are trekking in deep snow, he said.

Either way, it’s loads of fun even when the snow isn’t overly deep.

“The deeper snow is more challenging for sure.”

Margo Kusiek is a director on the Ponoka Golf Club’s volunteer board. She was onhand for the event as well and said that connecting with groups like the Baden Powell Service Association to help run events like the snowshoe clinic fits well with the club’s mandate to be a community-focused organization.

“We offer cross-country ski trails, the walking trails, and this (snowshoe clinic) this year. Last year, we did one on simulator golf.

“Local physical education classes are also welcome to use our practice facilities free of charge,” she said.

“The citizens of Ponoka do not have to be members here. It’s a community golf course. You can buy a membership, but anyone is welcome,” she said.

The Baden Powell Service Association is broken down into several age groups from the Otters (five to seven), and the Timberwolves (eight to 10), to the Explorers (11 to 15) and the Senior Explorers (15-18) and the Rovers (18 and up).

“We take July and August off, otherwise we are busy the other 10 months of the year. We do a lot of camping, hiking, canoeing, some archery, and woodworking crafts,” said Wilson.

The kids are taught basic survival, outdoor, and leadership skills.

“It’s about being outdoors in the fresh air, complete with learning these useful skills.”

The association started up in Ponoka about six years ago,

“We are also always looking for more volunteers,” he said.

“And you can always be a scout — it doesn’t matter what your age is. You are called a Rover when you are over 18. It’s still a lot of fun to get out there and go camping.

“When you are older, you are teaching the younger ones — but you are still doing all the same fun stuff.”

Brent Wilson of the Baden Powell Service Association was onhand to help out folks, including Sheila McArthur, during a snowshoe clinic held Feb. 19 at the Ponoka Golf Club. (Mark Weber/Ponoka News)
August McArthur took to snowshoeing pretty quickly during a snowshoe clinic held Feb. 19 at the Ponoka Golf Club. (Mark Weber/Ponoka News)

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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