With adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts in mind, Community Services has added a new “outdoor adventure” category to recreation programs. Starting this month, youth and adults can snowshoe at night, ski with an expert, or participate in bouldering or other team-based activities.

After her first year as Recreation Coordinator, Melissa Bernhard said adding an outdoor section to the class brochure was one of her top goals.

“We’re trying things out now and experimenting to see if, for example, week days work better than weekends for adults. But I’d like to offer similar classes year-round, with seasonal activities,” Bernhard said.

Bernhard sourced local organizations for expertise and equipment in putting the classes together. Partners include Carleton College; Gear Resource; Monkey See, Monkey Read and the Northfield Public Library.

Perhaps one of the more experimental classes, Bernhard said, is a mash-up of a book club and a series of adventure activities, called Adventure Mania (for youth) and Outdoor Pursuits & Publications (for adults).

Bernhard got the idea from a group of seniors in the Twin Cities metro area.

“The combination was a great way to engage in a new activity and have the chance to get outside and meet new people,” she said.

Participants can sign up for one or all monthly activity & book events, such as snowshoeing in Big Woods State Park combined with discussing “Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage,” on Thursday, Feb. 27.

While her passion to expand outdoor programming stems from her own love of adventure and fitness, Bernhard hopes she can find just the right mix for the community. Low early interest, combined with a short winter registration period, forced cancellation of the first adventure racing class, Bernhard said. But warm-weather fans can look forward to a summer version, likely to include biking, canoeing and hiking, along with the essential orienteering component.

“It’s fun and healthy, and I think it builds character,” she said. “These types of classes bring plenty of opportunity to challenge yourself.”

Visit Community Services or call 507.664.3649 for more information or to register.

  • Adventure Mania (grades 3-8) – Sa, Jan. 18; Feb. 15; March 15; April 19
  • Outdoor Pursuits & Publications (adults) – Th, Jan. 30; Feb. 27; March 27; April 24
  • Full Moon Snowshoeing Hikes (families/adults) – F, Jan. 17 or F, March 14
  • Cross Country Skiing (adults/youth ages 12 and older) – Sa, Feb. 1 (for intermediate skiers)
  • Watch for Adventure Racing in summer 2014.

Northfield Public Schools Community Services includes recreation and enrichment programming, Early Childhood Family Education, driver education, KidVentures, EarlyVentures Learning Center, Connected Kids, Middle School Youth Center, Hand in Hand Preschool, Adult Basic Education and Project ABLE.