News & Stories
2020 TRAIL KIDS Programming Soars to new Heights
August 29, 2020
Each year the Loppet Foundation has seen growth in the number of youth participating in our year-round programs, but this past summer and fall we have literally exploded with the number of registrations. This summer, we had a twenty percent increase in registrations for our evening run/orienteering and mountain bike programs. TRAIL KIDS summer programs have served over 500 youth keeping kids active, outdoors and safe! Our summer half-day mountain bike camps were a huge success with waitlists needing to be created to get everyone into the camps. The camps are coached by trained LCW Juniors which also allows them an opportunity to gain leadership skills along with having a summer job!
COVID-19 has had many negative implications over the last few months, but I have also witnessed many positive outcomes due to so many families wanting to keep active and outdoors. This spring, when many of the team sports were cancelled due to COVID-19 we had an increase in youth wanting to join our more socially-distant sports like mountain biking, running, and orienteering. Through the entire summer we have kept kids safe with no reports of anyone contracting COVID-19 through participation in our programs. We have had very strict guidelines for coaches and youth to follow when gathering for sessions. For instance, youth and coaches wear face masks when meeting for drop off and pick up time and are spread out six feet apart. Once youth start biking or running they are allowed to pull down their masks if they remain six feet apart from one another.
For the first time this summer we offered our run/orienteering program, headed by coach Laura Cattaneo. Laura and her sister Elena grew up orienteering competitively in their home town of Rochester. Laura was born in Switzerland where the sport of orienteering is very popular. Laura has competed internationally in orienteering race events and has done an incredible job creating orienteering lesson plans for the program. Laura also is one of our long time Nordic ski coaches and also started coaching mountain biking as well. TRAIL KIDS hopes to grow the sport of orienteering in Minnesota and have also partnered with MNOC for various events.
One of our TRAIL KIDS coaches Greg Klave has started up a Northside youth mountain biking and canoe program that has grown in numbers since it launched mid-summer. The Loppet Foundation provides mountain bikes for all the Northside youth who do not have their own bikes.
The TRAIL KIDS fall sessions filled in less than thirty hours and we had over 300 youth on the waitlist to get into our programs, so we decided to open even more opportunities for those youth. We have over 100 mountain bike and run/orienteering coaches on staff that have made it possible for us to offer more programs. We have parents, LCW Juniors and other adults who are trained in the Loppet TRAIL KIDS Mountain bike fundamental skills that we have set up as online training when COVID-19 started. We still do in person on the bike coach training in smaller groups to help the coaches get prepared for the season.