Northbound Outfitters and local ski instructor host lessons to get youth outside during the winter months
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
While frigid temperatures swept into the area late last week, that did not prevent a number of children from chilling out and learning some cross country skiing basics at a local sporting goods outfitters business.
For the second year in a row, cross country skiing instructor Carole Mueller-Brumbaugh and Northbound Outfitters have teamed up to provide lessons to elementary school age children.
The classes are offered after school on Tuesday and Thursday. Northbound Outfitters has a groomed ski trail, located behind the business, to allow customers to try outdoor winter gear before they finalize a purchase.
While most of the students take the lessons from Grayling Elementary School, Mueller-Brumbaugh stressed that the lessons are open to homeschooled students and youth who attend other schools.
“We want to build that community, so it is open to all students who want to participate,” she said.
Mueller-Brumbaugh, who is a certified ski instructor and examiner of ski instructor through the Professional Ski Instructors of America, moved to the community from Grand Rapids two and half years ago. Her husband, Ernie Brumbaugh, is also a local ski coach.
“We used to always come up to ski race and we love the area, and I wanted to give something back to the community,” Mueller-Brumbaugh said.
A retired professor from Aquinas College and assistant cross country running coach, Mueller-Brumbaugh wanted to focus the lessons on the youth rather than high school students or college students.
“I wanted to get more people involved in skiing, which you have to start when they are children,” she said. “When you get the kids involved, they grow up with it and they love it.”
Northbound Outfitters provides the ski boots and the skis to the youth for the lessons.
“We had all the equipment and the area and it works perfect,” Mueller-Brumbaugh said.
Last year, the classes were offered for four weeks, as the schedule was cut short due to snow melts. The classes started with nine participants, and ended with 19 youth being involved.
Despite chilly temperatures last Thursday, 10 children showed up for the classes.
Mueller-Brumbaugh uses simple terms such as shaping their skis like a slice of pizza and crawling like a turtle to get up after the youth take a tumble.
Payton Deline, who is taking the classes for a second year in row, said she likes leading the group as they form a train to get around the trails.
“I like playing the games out there and making the trains,” she said.
Connor Tuck, also a second year student, likes clicking on the skis. He said he enjoys not being cooped up inside during the winter.
“I like the coldness because it’s always too hot inside,” he said.
Hunter Carrier, who participated in the lessons for the first time last week with his sister, Hayley, enjoyed being able get outside and on the move.
“I like it when we slide our feet and we walk,” he said. “It’s fun.
Courtney Carrier said she learned about the lessons her children took part in through a friend.
“I wish I would have done something like this when I was little,” she said. “Living in Michigan, you have all this snow, but I didn’t do winter sports as a kid. This is nice that my kids get a chance to go cross country skiing.”
Grayling High School physical fitness teacher Eric Tunney noted that the classes are also offered to his lifetime fitness and recreation students on Tuesday during the school day.
Tunney and his wife, Britt, a Grayling Elementary School teacher, go on ski outings with son, Kallen.
“We ended up buying him some skis and he’s been itching to go, so I was glad to hear the program was starting back up,” Tunney said. “It’s fun. It’s something my wife and I do recreationally, and it’s tough when you have to drag a kid behind in a sled, so now that he has his own skis and knows how to do it, it’s great.”
Jordan Ault, brought his sons, Wyatt and Jackson Ault, to the classes for the first time last week. They have previously been involved in downhill skiing and snowboarding
“It’s enjoying another outdoor winter sport. The kids are very sports minded, so any extra activity that they can do to keep them in shape through the winter is really cool,” Jordan said.
Mueller-Brumbaugh, who will turn 65 this spring, plans to continue offering the cross county skiing lessons and running in marathons, which she has done for 40 years.
“Life doesn’t end at 65 – it all starts and you just have to create a venue that warms your heart and you can give back to the people,” she said. “It takes a village to raise a child, and this is my little help to create that village.”