Snowshoeing Education 204: Clarifying Snowshoeing Values

Why do people snowshoe?  What values do they hold dear to them when it comes to snowshoeing?  Why should we be concerned with values of snowshoers?  In response…there are a myriad of reasons why people snowshoe. They all hold differing values when it comes to winter recreation. And it is of concern, because it tells the snowshoeing industry something about the people who participate in the sport.

Last season I surveyed a sample of students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where I work. These students had completed my snowshoeing courses. Although small in design, this unscientific survey revealed some interesting results relative to snowshoeing values.

When I asked participants to identify the reason why they snowshoe, results showed that 47 percent of the females and 58 percent of the males preferred snowshoeing for reasons of serenity, silence and appreciation of nature. Also, 41 percent of the females and 24 percent of the males preferred snowshoeing for adventure, exploration and fun; 6 percent of females and 9 percent of males snowshoe for camaraderie, fellowship and sharing experiences; and 6 percent of females and 9 percent of males were for reasons of convenience, inexpensive and easy to master.

So, what are snowshoeing values?  My “Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary,” defined values as, “that which is desirable or worthy of esteem for its own sake; thing or quality having intrinsic worth.” Snowshoeing values could then be considered those qualities about snowshoeing that provide intrinsic worth…and those things that are desirable to the snowshoer.

Liking Winter: A Prerequisite for Snowshoeing

“The problem with winter sports is that – follow me closely here – they generally take place in winter.”  –Dave Barry

I assume Dave Barry’s statement would indicate he does not meet the prerequisite for the sport of snowshoeing. I have met some people who do not care for winter, but they snowshoe in order to find something active to do in the snow to bide their time waiting for spring.

But I am sure most snowshoeing enthusiasts enjoy, appreciate and relish the thought of winter and snow. This value brings to mind a mid October day about ten years ago when we had eight inches of snowfall in Wausau, Wis. I was so excited never having gone snowshoeing this early in the season that I strapped on my modified bearpaws and took a hike down the street and back. My snowshoeing values said I like it. I like winter and I like snow…even in October.

Health and Fitness as a Common Goal

“The first wealth is health”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my survey I did not ask my students if they enjoyed snowshoeing for health and fitness reasons. I will have to add that question in my survey for next time. But, many snowshoers do snowshoe for health and fitness, especially the runners and racers.

Snowshoe racing has gained popularity in recent decades, from community races to national and international races. The United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA) sponsors regional races and an annual national championship event. I would wager that those athletes are not only competitive, but hold fitness as an important value.

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  • Jim Joque

    Jim Joque is a Midwest writer on snowshoeing, backpacking and canoeing. He retired from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as director of disability services and adjunct adventure education instructor, having taught snowshoeing, camping, backpacking, adventure leadership and Leave No Trace. In 2021, Jim and his wife Liz moved from Wisconsin to Colorado in their retirement.

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