Aurora Nordic Cross Country Ski Club is a not for profit, incorporated, volunteer driven organization in St. Anthony. The role of the organization is to provide groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoe trails to the general populace in the greater St. Anthony area. Aurora Nordic has been in existence for approximately 36 years, and is administered by an eight-person executive, elected at an annual general meeting. Membership is open to all age groups in the area and consists of preschoolers, youth, and all ages of adults.
Membership is consistently in the 180 to 190 range. Volunteer coaches offer instruction to children and youth skiers by way of a nationally accredited Jackrabbit Program developed by Nordiq Canada. Youth instruction sessions are offered weekly throughout the season which is early January to late April. Youth dry land training is also completed in the fall, prior to ski season to prep would be racers for the coming seasons’ events. On an as required basis, ski instruction is also offered to adults, many of whom are new to the area and are experiencing winter activities for the first time.
Members pay an annual fee to use club facilities, which include 21 kilometers of trails groomed on a regular basis, a heated fully accessible chalet and a remote trail gazebo. Funds raised from member fees and volunteer activities (ticket raffles, race events,) are used to provide ongoing maintenance of equipment and works, and to pay the salary of one seasonal employee. Aurora Nordic also hosts several events for club members including Family Fun Days, Group Night Ski/Snowshoe events, a Seniors Ski & Social Day, Ladies Night and Men’s Socials. Race events open to all other ski clubs in the province are also part of the mix of activities hosted and provided by Aurora Nordic.
White Hills Academy, the Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in St. Anthony, uses the facility for an after-school ski program and for periodic outings. Local youth groups including Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Air Cadets take advantage of the facility periodically throughout the winter months. For those unable to make an investment in equipment or for those wanting to try skiing and snowshoeing to gauge their own interest, Aurora offers a rental program ranging in duration from daily to seasonal.
A primary goal of Aurora Nordic is to be fully inclusive of all people and groups in the area. While a number of people from the 60+ demographic use the facilities, there are others who find it difficult for various reasons to access the facility. These reasons include financial difficulties, lack of peer support, lack of family support and drive or determination. Aurora feels if given the opportunity and with some encouragement there would be many 60+ and seniors that would use the facility for some much-needed exercise and social stimulation.
With help from the grant received by the IGA, Aurora Nordic decided to offer one day weekly where Seniors can use the facility to ski or snowshoe and gather with peers and friends in a secure and comfortable environment, at no charge to the individual. Aurora advertised this opportunity to all Seniors and those 60+ in the area and provided encouragement. With trails being groomed, the chalet will be open and warm allowing those who exercise outside to stay warm and comfortable and to mix with friends. Light snacks and refreshments available. Auroras’ operating season generally runs from January 1 to April 30. As the season unfolds, sessions could be offered twice weekly if weather conditions or extreme cold temperatures dictate revising the schedule. With the grant received, Aurora has been able to offer seniors and retirees Tuesday afternoons free, where they can use the lodge, and trails with no expense!
In addition to the above, three or four times throughout the winter season, Aurora will be recruiting a knowledgeable resource person from the area to speak to a group at the chalet on issues pertinent to seniors. Topics include health, well-being, support mechanisms within the area, avoiding internet or phone scams etc.
Finally, knowing from past experiences that this demographic enjoys a bit of music and entertainment, Aurora will host two entertainment coffee houses, either during the afternoon or early evening. These events would be geared around a ski or snowshoe session and entertainment.