Valerie E., Sacramento Inner City Outings Trip Leader
Thank you to Tubbs for a wonderful winter of fun and adventures!!
Sacramento Inner City Outings went into the winter season very excited to use our new fleet of Tubbs snowshoes, thanks to Tubbs’ generous “Get outdoors” program. While California’s drought limited the number of snow trips we could do this winter (we had to reschedule all trips due to lack of snow), we did get 56 kids out on 3 different trips, partnering with the Sacramento Food Bank, Connections for Youth (a foster-youth program), and Grant High School’s “GEO” program. Over half of these kids had never been in the snow before, and all kids had a blast and are eager to get back to the snow!
All of our trips were at Echo Summit- which has a trailhead accessing a nice loop of trails, allowing for short hikes to some great areas for snow play, as well as ambitious hikes up to ridges with extraordinary views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains. This site was chosen for its lodge at the trailhead- the importance of indoor bathrooms and a place to warm up cannot be stressed enough, when exposing kids to their first snow adventure. As an extra bonus, the trailhead area has some nice picnic tables for lunch and excellent sledding. All three trips spent about 2/3 of the day snowshoeing, followed by lunch, and then a couple of hours of sledding. While most kids were initially wary of the snowshoeing plan (thinking it was our way of torturing them before they could go sledding), for most of the kids, it wound up being their favorite part of the day. Snowshoeing provided them with a taste of the solitude, peace, adventure and fun that can be attained by getting out into nature. The kids reveled in the freedom – when it was just us in boundless snow, the kids could let loose and have all-out snowball fights (usually the highlight of the day). Many kids loved the ability to explore on their own—testing to see how steep of a hill (or boulder!) the snowshoes could get them up, jumping into snowdrifts, and puffing their way up the next hill to get an even better view. Other kids enjoyed the peace of the outdoors- enjoying a silent celebration of their efforts while taking in the view of Lake Tahoe. And for other kids, the physical challenge was the highlight of the day- they were really proud of accomplishing a climb they didn’t think they could do, huffing through their first trip at high elevation.
As trip leaders, what we learned from our snow trips:
1. Have enough chaperones to split up into groups. Some kids will want to play in the snow 500 yards from the trailhead and are having so much fun, that you don’t want to interrupt it. But others are really eager to push their limits and climb as far as they can get to. Our ideal trips had enough leaders where we all started out snowshoeing together, but then broke into as many as 4 groups, depending on the kids’ speed and perseverance, as well as their interest in hiking vs. snowplay. Lots of chaperones also helps get the snowshoes on the kids quickly, which is critical when you have 40+ antsy feet waiting on you! (Tubbs “stretchy” bindings were awesome for getting snowshoes on quickly!! We quickly fell in love with them!)
2. You can’t bring enough gloves- kids playing in snow will get wetter than seems possible.
3. Inner city kids have no idea what snowshoes are—when you’re discussing the plans with them before the trip, they all assume you’re talking about boots- bringing a pair along to show them will prepare them for what’s ahead. Related to that, once the kids are on the snow, they take for granted the buoyancy the snowshoes provide. Letting them take off the snowshoes and seeing how hard it is to walk (either due to sinking or icy conditions) is a great way for them to appreciate them.
4. Snowshoes are a great equalizer in snowball fights. The more aggressive kids wind up tripping themselves, allowing more of an equal playing field.
5. Even with the lowest snowfall on record, kids will have a blast in the snow!
The kids, and all of the volunteers of Sacramento’s Inner City Outings are so grateful to Tubbs for the gift of these wonderful adventures! We’ll be taking as many trips as we can for many years to come! The snow trips are by far the most requested by our collaborating agencies, so with better snow conditions, we’ll be able to get far more kids out in future years. Rumors are that next year we’ll have epic snowfall in California- allowing us to get many more snow trips in!