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Ski festival caps Kootenai Outdoor Adventure winter program

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | February 9, 2024 7:00 AM

Surrounded by numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation, the Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program keeps working to make sure Libby area school students have the chance to experience them.

Last week, free to students in grades fifth through eighth, the program wrapped up its 10th year of the winter session at the South Flower Creek Ski area.

Bill Moe, who helps coordinate the long-running program, is appreciative of the partners and volunteers who take their time to help with the kids.

“The need for outdoor education, physical activity, mental fortitude, team work and being off of the devices is more important than ever for all kids,” Moe said. "We had about 44 kids participate this year. We have some great volunteers that help instruct the students this season, including Dr. Rice, Mrs. Rose, Mrs. Ostrowski and Erin Williams Taylor."

The program partners with the Kootenai Cross Country Ski Club and is supported by the Kendeda Fund. All equipment and necessary items are provided by the club. This year the LOR Foundation helped out with the funding for the ski club this year. 

“The cool thing about it is for many of these students, it’s the first or second time doing an outdoor activity,” eighth-grade science teacher Shannon Ostrowski said.

She explained that April Rewerts, a fellow Libby teacher, got a grant to buy skis and poles. 

Students have spent the latter part of December and all of January training and taking cross country ski lessons. It culminated in “Festival Ski Day” on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

While fog enveloped the area, dozens of students still had a great time skiing, throwing snow balls and learning how to use snowshoes. They also enjoyed hot chocolate and sausages roasted on sticks over an open fire.

Students Abigail Kirk and Levi Harmon shared, “What good friends they are,” while taking turns ski jumping off a small ramp on the hillside.

Dr. Greg Rice, who established the Libby Clinic nearly 50 years ago and formed the Kootenai Nordic Club with his wife, Susie, said the program was seeking a grant to buy a John Deere with skids for trail grooming.

KOAP now takes a brief break before planning its summer season activities, which typically include hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing and archery.

For more information or to get involved, call or text Moe at 291-0873 or Ben Deremiah at 208-659-0721. Moe can also be reached at moeb@libbyschools.org.

    Good friends Abigail Kirk and Levi Harmon enjoyed themselves on Tuesday, Jan. 30, during the Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program's festival ski day at the South Flower Creek Ski Area. (Scott Shindledecker/The Western News)
 
 
    Casey Johnson skis over a ramp on Tuesday, Jan. 30, during the Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program's festival ski day at the South Flower Creek Ski Area. (Scott Shindledecker/The Western News)
 
 
    Grilled hot dogs and hot chocolate were part of the fun for the participants on Tuesday, Jan. 30, during the Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program's festival ski day at the South Flower Creek Ski Area. (Scott Shindledecker/The Western News)
 
 
    Levi Harmon is about to face plant after skiing over a ramp on Tuesday, Jan. 30, during the Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program's festival ski day at the South Flower Creek Ski Area. (Scott Shindledecker/The Western News)