Have new adventures in the snow
Snow sports specialist adviser Lauren Henderson answers some common questions
Lots of units will be wondering how to get out and about during the winter months.
Snow sports can be a great adventure and you don’t have to go to the North Pole to make them happen. You could try skiing, snowboarding or sledging and there is lots of fun to be had for both leaders and girls of all ages. And its not as hard as you may think!
Can you go skiing and snowboarding in the UK?
Yes! You don’t even need to wait for the snow to fall; there are lots of indoor and artificial slopes across the UK. Of course, you can also find the real stuff at certain times of year.
The Ski Club of Great Britain has created a handy map of ski slopes in England, Scotland and Wales. Make sure you follow the guidance on our adventure for girls pages when choosing a venue so that it meets Girlguiding requirements.
If it does snow, there are fun activities you can try closer to home. Volunteer Tracy Leverett helped her unit create their very own snow art by filling squeezy bottles of water mixed with food colouring and drawing patterns on the snow.
What kit do I need?
Say to someone you are going skiing and they normally think you need lots of expensive kit to take part. However, this is not the case. There are just a few basic things you will generally need. On a dry ski slope or indoor snow dome, you will need:
- ski gloves
- ski socks
- a warm waterproof coat
- waterproof trousers – these are optional on dry slopes, but the spray applied to make the slope smooth can also make it wet.
At most centres in the UK, skis, snowboards, boots and helmets are included in the cost of your ticket for a lesson. At some venues you can also hire waterproof clothing for a small fee.
Remember, the snow inside indoor snowdomes is incredibly realistic. Dress in lots of thin layers – these will trap air between them to keep you warm, but also allow for more flexibility. Waterproof gloves are better than cotton ones to stop your hands getting cold if they get wet.
If you're skiing on real snow in the outdoors you'll need all of the items above, plus:
- ski/snowboarding trousers
- a hat
- lots and lots of layers
- ski goggles and sunglasses.
Again, it can be possible to hire this kit depending on where you are going. Check with the provider before buying new things. All this kit is essential.
'My Guides buried me in the snow a couple of years ago,' says leader Coralie Masters-Hill. 'They were amazed I wasn't cold but I explained that I'd brought everything on the kit list so I was fine!'
How can our unit afford all this kit?
Hiring kit is always the best (and the cheapest) option for beginners and children.
Ski socks, goggles and ski gloves can be bought fairly cheaply at the end of the winter season or from popular bargain retailers. You shouldn't need to spend more than £15 on each of these items. Members can also get an exclusive discount at GO Outdoors, Blacks and Millets, making equipment even more affordable.
If you're worried about the cost of snow sports, you could try fundraising. Take a look at our fundraising toolkit for ideas.
How do I keep girls safe when we're doing winter sports?
Winter sports can be dangerous. However, If you use a specialist ski or snowboard centre and book qualified instructors to lead lessons, winter sports can be done really safely. If you are doing one that Girlguiding classes as an adventurous activity make sure you follow our policy and procedures.
There are some other simple things you can do to make girls even safer.
- make sure everyone wears a helmet
- get all girls and volunteers to wear ski gloves to protect their hands
- boots should be fastened tightly when attached to skis or a snowboard, and not allow the ankle or heel to move much. If you're unsure ask your instructor.
Search for snow activities in our Activity for girls finder for more safety and planning information.
Can Rainbows and Brownies try snow sports?
Yes! And children can sometimes have less fear than adults!
Check with the centre, but most snow sports venues offer lessons from a very young age so Rainbows and Brownies can definitely give it a go. And I'm sure they'll love it!
Will I fall over?
Most people will fall over at some point. It's just like learning anything new and it can take practice to find your balance. Using qualified instructors will make sure you are taught in a safe and suitable way but, most importantly, still have loads of fun! You will soon be laughing at each other trying to get back up with skis on.
Which winter sport should I choose?
This is totally up to you and your girls. Some venues have higher age restrictions and smaller group sizes for snowboarding. If you have enough girls, why not give them the choice?
Of course, don’t forget about sledging, tubing and tobogganing which are a really easy way to give girls their first taste of a winter sport. Lots of centres offer ‘sledging parties’ which can be a great end of term activity that isn’t too expensive.
Want to find out more?
Read Girlguiding's guidance for taking your unit on a snow sports adventure.