Shenendehowa Nordic Ski Club aims to create a culture of outdoor activity


There was a sharp pinch in the air at Garnsey Park in Clifton Park last Saturday, but a sturdy contingent in hats, gloves and puffer jackets chatted and munched on pizza around two fireplaces near the parking lot.

Members of the Shenendehowa Nordic Ski Club don’t let a little cold weather keep them indoors. In fact, they can’t wait to see snow on the ground so they can get their skis out. Saturday’s event was snowless so the main activity wasn’t cross-country skiing but a scavenger hunt and orientation exercise along the park’s few miles of trails.

My husband and I are happy to ski on our own on the local trails or in the backcountry of the Adirondacks. But our 11 year old is starting to find us quite boring. So, to keep our outdoor adventures as engaging as possible for as long as possible, we do our best to connect with other local outdoor families and participate in group activities.

In the spring and fall we were very lucky mountain biking with Saratoga Shredders. Seeing a social media post for the Shenendehowa Nordic Ski Club’s opening season rally that took place on Saturday seemed like a fluke.

Within minutes of our arrival our child, who makes friends everywhere we go, was eating pizza, climbing a tree, and chatting with the other kids. Soon, while we stayed and chatted with the current club president, Darryl Caron, the kids hit the track for an orienteering activity.

Caron is the publisher of Adirondack Sports, a free outdoor recreation and fitness magazine covering Adirondack Park and the Greater Capital Region-Saratoga. He says the club is great for getting kids outside and getting them involved in a sport that isn’t necessarily competitive.

The ski club is a booster group for the Shenendehowa Nordic Ski Team, but its youth program, the Bill Koch Youth Ski League, is open to children across the Capital Region. Children, around 4 to 12 years old, can learn to ski or improve their technique. Club members also have access to loaned ski equipment, so parents don’t have to invest in skis when their kids are starting out.

When the weather permits they ski, but when they don’t they do other activities – at a meet earlier this week, for example, the kids worked on their stick technique.

“It’s really fun for the kids to be outside and do a lot of these activities, whether it’s snowy or not, and the parents are having a lot of fun, too,” says Caron.

He says the group, which has been around since 1985, doubled in size during the pandemic, from around 15 children showing up each week for the Bill Koch program to around 30. The club now has around three dozen family members.

In addition to running the children’s program and supporting the Shenendehowa ski team, the club also maintains slopes at Kinns Road Park, Garnsey Park and the Shenendehowa Central Schools Campus, creating a large ski area for the ski team as well as the locals. residents. While it’s possible to traditional ski on just about any snow-covered surface, grooming also allows skate skiers to hit the trail and creates a more enjoyable surface for snowshoers.

“We have a mix of young kids going into the youth program, we have high school kids, but we also have a lot of adults of all ages skiing, which is amazing,” Caron says.

The club also supports various races and events, including the Clifton Park Winter Festival in February, and encourages its members to participate in the Empire State Games. It’s all part of creating a culture of outdoor activity and helps kids develop skills and confidence.

“It’s all Nordic sport, how Norwegians and Swedes see sport throughout their lives and participate in a variety of things and being outdoors, how healthy it is, mentally and physically, ”says Caron.

Neither of us skied on Saturday, but we look forward to the first big snowfall and the chance to ski with new friends.

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You can learn more about the Shenendehowa Nordic Ski Club at

To find out when the trails were groomed, visit and like the club’s Facebook page,

The ski club offers beginner cross-country skiing lessons for people of all ages in the town of Clifton Park. Classes start in January and take place according to conditions. Visit to register or find out more.


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