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Nordic Dad

by Darryl Potyk

“I’m supposed to do what? Take eight five-year-olds out into the cold for two hours and bring them back happy?”

I’d seen it done, but now it was my turn. Driving up to the mountain that morning, I was surprised by my rising anxiety. Our twin boys had been involved with Nordic Kids for the past two years, during which time we did our part in terms of checking kids in and out, setting up and ensuring there was enough hot chocolate and cookies afterward.

Now, my daughter was old enough to participate, but she agreed to do so only if I taught her class. What did I know about teaching Nordic skiing? I had spent the last two years pulling her around in a sled and slowly getting to know the trail system.

As we pulled into the parking lot that morning, it dawned on me that not only was I expected to take them out into the cold and bring them back happy, I was also supposed to teach them something. That anxious feeling I had was quickly becoming a sense of impending doom. There was no turning back. I checked in, got my pin, grabbed as many Skittles as I could carry, identified all the Foxes -- some of whom were more enthusiastic than others -- and away we went.

I had attended the instructor’s class several weeks earlier. I had paid attention but honestly, I spent a good deal of the time thinking, “Who am I kidding? I’m an imposter.”

Well, out to the learning area we went, with me trying to remember what I had “learned.” After a round of simple introductions, we were all “dead bugs,” we made a circle putting our ski tips in the middle, we jumped up and down at first loudly then as quietly as we could, we learned poor posture and stood around like gorillas, stomped like monsters going up a slight hill, scootered on one ski and before long we were playing sharks and minnows.

Along the way, most of the Skittles were consumed and somehow we had managed to get to the first junction and back. We had a few flops, a few kids eating snow when they fell, a couple who didn’t want to get back up, but we made it back to the lodge in time for those delicious treats.

As I looked around, I didn’t see any tears and saw mostly smiles as kids talked about their day. I checked with the desk -- yes, thank goodness all the Foxes had returned and turned in their buttons. Only then, as I saw the kids getting ready to go back outside to sled around the lodge, did I realize what a sense of relief I had, but also that I too was smiling.

That was seven years ago. While I taught or assisted in Lauren’s class for several more years, the organization had hit a critical mass and there were other volunteer parents who were much better teachers and skiers than I was.

While everyone’s experience will be different, as another Nordic Kids season gets underway I hope that it will be a positive experience for your kids as well as yourselves. Hope to see you out there!

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