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Tips for Getting Kids Into Snowmobiling

When winter weather hits, do we retreat indoors for the many months of snow and cold? Not at all—while the rest of the world hides inside, we bundle up and head outside to play in it! As snowmobilers, we’re fortunate to have a passion and a pastime for what many...

When winter weather hits, do we retreat indoors for the many months of snow and cold? Not at all—while the rest of the world hides inside, we bundle up and head outside to play in it! As snowmobilers, we’re fortunate to have a passion and a pastime for what many consider the dreariest months of the year. Snowmobiling presents us with the opportunity to welcome winter with open arms—for the laughs and smiles it brings, as well as the memories we look forward to making each winter.

And if you are a lover of all things snow, you likely share that enthusiasm with the important people in your life—including your children. We talked with Team DSG to get the scoop on how they’ve passed on their passion for snowmobiling to their young ones. Many members of the team provided their first-hand advice for getting your whole family involved in the sport we all love.

Prime Time Preparations

How many of you are guilty of grabbing just a quick granola bar or piece of toast for breakfast before a day of riding? Well, that’s not going to cut it for your young ones. The final word is: prepare your kids for a day on the snow with a hearty breakfast and lots of layers. Those little bodies are going to need both out in the cold.

Kimberly Wetherelt started her son snowmobiling at two years old, and she cautions, “There’s nothing worse than a hungry kid! We make sure he gets a good, filling breakfast the morning of riding. We then make sure we have enough snacks and drinks to last the day.” Admittedly, taking your kids along requires a lot of logistical planning, but it’ll be worth the family memories you’ll surely create. Lacie Jessen has four young daughters, and she tells us that they love being included in the planning process—she gets them involved by having them pick out what the family cooks in their muff pots that day. She’s also gotten in the habit of packing along a thermos of hot chocolate or apple cider for a quick liquid warm-up.

Layering is of course key to any successful day of snowmobiling. With proper layering techniques, your body will stay warm and dry regardless of the temperature or precipitation. The same applies to kids. Kadie Mccallum says that, although her eight-year-old daughter Kendall “may feel and look like the marshmallow man [under all her layers], you can always take layers off.” On top of that, do your best to invest only in high quality clothing and equipment for your children, it’s worth the investment. The best gear will be warm, waterproof and wind resistant. Kim Black recommends looking for deals on kids gear at your local dealership or online during end-of-season sales. For the seven kids she and her husband took on their adventures, she says, “Boots, mittens, socks, and helmets were all top of the line so that we could spend more time in the snow versus in the cabin or at the lodge.”

Our key takeaways from these experienced snowmobilers? They found themselves packing more snacks, layers, hand warmers, and emergency equipment when their kids began joining in on the fun. All are necessary to keep kiddos warm, comfortable, and happy in and on the snow.

Switch It Up

Snowmobiling can be a daunting sport. There’s a lot of skills and safety measures to tackle, so ease your children into it. This means you’ll likely have to alter your usual style of riding. Tonya Brooks started taking her son Dalton snowmobiling when he was seven, and admits, “Taking a child is a huge commitment and takes a desire to set aside riding aggressively to get everyone on board with the same type of riding. We started out on the trail, getting the basics down, and then eventually graduated to the backcountry.” Kim agrees that bringing the whole family along on snowmobiling adventures has changed the way she approaches the sport. On the flip side, she tells us, “Now that our kids are grown, we have talented, experienced riders that love to spend time with us at our cabin and on the snow. Without this sport, we would not have created all of these amazing memories along the way.”

Head into these initial outings with an open mind—these rides are inevitably different than rides with other adults, but they are so worth the family memories. Be prepared to change your plans to fit what your child is comfortable with. This might mean some shorter days on the snow. Break up the day the best you can—make warming hut stops if they’re available, build a fire in the snow, or do anything that can keep things interesting for the little riders. Lacie shares, “We love making snowmen and snow angels on the mountain, with the occasional snowball fight!” What’s important is that you stay flexible, ride to your children’s experience levels, and incorporate all the fun you can!

Additional Advice

Every snowmobiling adventure presents its own set of lessons. And Team DSG has learned plenty of lessons while teaching their kids to snowmobile. For example, Yvonne Weston’s son has been tagging along since he was four or five, and she says, “We always let him do things at his own pace. Don’t push young riders into something they do not feel comfortable with.” Keep in mind that from the eyes of a child, snowmobiling can be pretty scary. Make yourself aware of their fears, and do what you can to support them through it. Tanya Vogt says that one of her kids was scared of getting lost or left behind. To help him through it, “we placed his machine in the middle of the group so that someone was always around him.” These slight adjustments to your norm will make it a better all-around experience for your kids.

Meanwhile, Kadie has learned that when her daughter can tell that she herself is nervous, that doubles her daughter’s nerves. She says that it helps when Kendall’s dad talks her through the process and what she needs to do next. “We can’t always hold her hand, but we’ve made her think about the next step herself. She’s proud of herself when she’s figured it out.”

This is to say that communication is a key to success in snowmobiling. Miranda Hamlin says she’s frequently asking her children about their temperature levels, and backing it up by checking their fingers and looking for telltale signs of shivering or blue lips. She learned this lesson herself, as a child: “My kids have always been good about telling us, but when I was little I got a little frost bite because I wanted to just keep riding and not go inside, and I remember how bad it burned! I hold this with me as I evaluate my own kiddos.” Put yourself in their shoes, removing yourself from the mindset of an experienced rider. This will help you predict hiccups before they arise.

Reap the Rewards

Somewhere between all this preparation and precaution, there are some meaningful rewards in bringing your children along. Adding children to the mix when pursuing your snowmobiling adventures is no doubt a lot of additional work, but all of Team DSG would agree that the rewards are worth it. Kim sums it up this way: “Snowmobiling offered our kids the chance to wok together to help each other out of difficult situations and to just have fun! Every weekend seemed to bring lots of laughter and some tears, but one thing is for sure—it brought our family closer together.”

Snowmobiling is a demanding sport, in so many ways—mentally, physically, financially. But it gives back to its enthusiasts with time well spent while the rest of the world is couped up indoors. Do what you can to get your children involved, because there’s an opportunity to create a lifetime of family fun. Uniquely, snowmobiling can be for everyone. Kimberly says one of her favorite parts of sharing snowmobiling with her son is “I love being able to teach him new skills and watch him progress. I also think it’s important to share something special with your children and being able to snowmobile together gives us that.” So bring your children into the fold, and start mentoring the next generation of great riders. You won’t regret it!

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