Grayling family makes the most out of heavy winter snowfall by building snow forts

With each week this winter, Mother Nature has blasted the region with a snowstorm.
Instead of staying cooped up in the house, a Grayling area family has created a fortress of fun to play in.
Jeremy and Angela Hempel, and their children Jeremy Jr, age 9, Brady Cojocar, age 7, and Ashley, age 7, have created a network of snow forts at their home in Grayling Charter Township.
It was the first year for the family to create the snow forts, prompted by the heavy amounts of white stuff dumped on the area over the last several weeks. They plan to keep it as a family tradition, making it bigger and better.
“The snow was there,” Jeremy said. “We just had to build it.”
First and foremost, making the snow forts got the family outside during the weekends. Angela is the assistant director at the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center, while Jeremy serves as a nurse for Dr. Ferdinand J. Korneli at the Grayling Community Health Center.
“They get sick of being inside,” Jeremy said of the kids. “I don’t mind them playing video games, but they need to be kids, too, using their imagination and being able to play laser tag out here.”
Planning and creating the snow fort has been a team building experience for the family.
“It’s been a really good family thing, getting us all out here and working together,” Jeremy said.
The snow fort has tunnels  to crawl through, different areas to sit and relax, and an area where snowballs are stored.
“There’s nothing wrong with a little snowball fight every now and then,” Jeremy said.
Jeremy Jr. compared the snow fort to an alternative landscape from the real world following a period of warfare.
“It’s like our fallout world,” he said.
Ashley simply likes the material Mother Nature gave the family to work with.
“It’s white,” she said. “Look at the beautiful white.”
The family works on developing the snow fort for four to five hours on weekend days.
“After four to five hours of busting ice and snow, you’re sore,” Jeremy said.
Jeremy is currently taking classes at the Kirtland Community College’s Health Sciences Center to obtain his degree to become a registered nurse. He is a few semesters away from accomplishing his goal.
Working on the snow forts give him and the children  time away from focusing on school.
“This is a nice break from homework, that’s for sure,” he said.
The family planned to spray areas of the snow fort with food coloring to chronicle their ventures moving forward.
“Snow doesn’t really have a depth to it to really appreciate the magnitude of it because it was a lot of hard work out here,” Jeremy said.
The family hopes the snow fort will remain intact for a number of weeks as spring weather begins.
Although the winter has been brutal, Matt Gillen, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service Office located just south of Gaylord,  said the snowfall amounts for the region have been typical for the season.
The upcoming forecast calls for some warmer days, with some cool downs, and the more spring like weather ahead.
“It’s not looking good for it to stick around too long,” Gillen said of the winter weather conditions. “Spring weather is on its way.”

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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