Demand for outdoor winter activities grows during the pandemic

Eye on KELOLAND

Since the pandemic hit last Spring, many people have turned to the great outdoors for some safe recreation. Now even though the snow is here and the temperature has dropped, many people are still looking for ways to spend more time outdoors. 

“Riding down the hill with our sleds and friends, hitting ramps and having fun,” Braxton Coulter said. 

The Spellerberg sledding hill is covered with kids this winter break; kids like brothers Carson and Braxton Coulter who are spending much of their Christmas vacation outdoors.

“Just looking for something fun to do outside with the kids and just taking a break from things at home and enjoying the time outside,” mom Kelsy Coulter said. 

It’s a welcome break from any indoor activities they’ve done the past year.

“It’s not very fun having to be at school and wearing a mask, but when we’re outside we don’t have to wear a mask and we can just have a lot of fun not wearing a mask,” Carson Coulter said. 

“With the pandemic, it’s been interesting to see that everyone is getting outside more, it’s one of the things that’s open and fairly safe because you’re out in the open air,” Outdoor Campus director David Parker said. 

All of the outdoor activities at the Outdoor Campus have been in high demand for months. 

“With covid we do have restricted numbers, we only do 10 to 15 people per class so they usually fill up pretty quickly; I had a class that I just put up online and it filled within an hour,” Parker said. 

This winter, they’re seeing the same increase in demand for the winter activities they offer like snowshoeing, cross country skiing and ice fishing.

“The amount of requests we’re getting is definitely related to the pandemic, just people wanting to get outside, and whether it’s snowing or not, doesn’t really matter to people,” Parker said. 

“If you’re dressing in a way that keeps you warm and comfortable, you’re going to have fun no matter how good, technically good, you are at what you’re trying,” Emily Larson with the Great Outdoor Store said. 

The Great Outdoor Store in downtown Sioux Falls has had a very busy year of helping people get into some new outdoor hobbies.

“We’ve loved talking to people who are doing it for the first time,” Larson said. 

This holiday season, the outdoor store helped many families put some new outdoor gear under the tree.

“Particularly snowshoes, I think that was a really fun one, we have kids options, it’s really fun and it’s family-friendly,” Larson said. 

Outdoor gear has been so popular all over the country this year, getting some items in stock has been difficult.

“We brought in a new ski, it’s like a shoe ski, so it’s a little shorter and wider, a mix between a cross country ski and a snowshoe, all things people can get into this winter,” Larson said. 

And even though it may have taken a pandemic to jump-start these new hobbies, outdoor enthusiasts hope this year of exploring the great outdoors will spur on a passion that lasts far beyond the threat of covid.

“It doesn’t have to end, it doesn’t have to be a one-time thing, it can be a lifelong hobby,” Larson said. “We are always happy to help people explore their options.”

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