Winter time fun

WINTER TIME FUN: There is plenty to do at Springhill Camp including snowboarding, sledding, or taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride. (Courtesy photos)

WINTER TIME FUN: There is plenty to do at Springhill Camp including snowboarding, sledding, or taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride. (Courtesy photos)

Plenty of activities for everyone during the winter months

Winter is here.

Instead of cowering inside and sobbing about the cold weather, get outside and embrace it.

For John and Becky Zimmerman and their three children, that means sledding, skating and ice fishing, along with other activities to keep them busy during the winter.

“We’re pretty much an outdoors family,” Zimmerman said.

Her daughter Grace, 11, is a figure skater, so they like the idea of an outdoor ice rink in Big Rapids.

Springhillsnow“We like to stay close to home especially in the winter,” Zimmerman said. “It will be nice to skate here.”

Zimmerman said when John and Aiden, 8, are ice fishing, she and her youngest daughter, Elizabeth, 5, are inside doing crafts together. The family also sleds together in their backyard.

“Our yard has some hills in it the kids use to sled,” Zimmerman said. “Having them in the backyard makes sledding easy.”

But for those families who don’t have backyards to sled in, there are other options in the area.

Springhill Camps in Evart offers outdoor activities from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sundays beginning the first weekend in January, said Eric Woods, retreats director at Springhill Camps.

The facility offers an indoor pool, cross county skiing, ice sled rentals and snowboard rentals and a tubing hill.

With no equipment and no experience required, tubing can be a fun winter activity for people of nearly any age. And for $6, all anyone has to do is sit down and let gravity take its course at Springhill.

“We see this facility as being part of our community,” Woods said. “We think it is important for people in our own backyard to be able enjoy it. We believe it has been given to us to be stewards of, and to use and share. We want to share it with our community.”

According to Woods, approximately 8 feet of snow is on the hill. This builds a good base to keep the hill open longer as the weather warms in March.

“Since it has been cold we have been making snow,” Woods said.

To make it easier reaching the top of the hill, the facility has moving sidewalk similar to those found in airports.

“We call it a magic carpet,” Woods said. “You just step on it and it takes you right to the top, so you get in more slides down the hill in the time you have here.”

Woods said Sunday afternoons usually draw anywhere from 60 to a couple hundred people at the facility.

“We have the capacity to serve hundreds of people,” Woods said. “Our staff are out there to make sure it is a great experience for everyone who comes out.”

To stay up to date on what is available for the community, visit Springhill’s Facebook page at facebook.com/springhillcommunityevents.

Those looking to go dashing through the snow in an open sleigh can visit Four Green Fields Farm in Mecosta County.

OTHER PLANS: Springhill Camps in Evart offers plenty of family fun for outdoor enthusiasts. It also has an indoor swimming pool for those who would like to stay warm.

OTHER PLANS: Springhill Camps in Evart offers plenty of family fun for outdoor enthusiasts. It also has an indoor swimming pool for those who would like to stay warm.

Established in 2003, the 162-acre farm includes cropland, wooded area and wetlands, and it partially borders a pond.

According to owner Kevin Courtney, the two Belgian draft horse geldings, Rocky and Charlie, take guests on sleigh ride through the countryside.

“A lot of people book sleigh rides this time of the year,” Courtney said. “We have couples, families and businesses. It offers something different for groups to do.”

They offer private group sleigh ride opportunities until March. They generally only book one group a day because they want people to enjoy the experience and the beauty of the farm, Courtney added.

“We have a warming house for your use and an area set up for bonfires,” Courtney said. “People can bring their own goodies and sit around a fire.”

People can book a sleigh ride seven days a week. A frosty ride through the woods to a roaring bonfire with hot chocolate and use of their warming house is $75, Courtney said.

“The beauty Michigan has to offer here is great to see on a moonlit night,” he said. “It is pretty scenery. It is great to take it all in while being pulled in a sleigh through the snow by horses.”

The farm has sleigh rides booked everyday during week of Christmas and half the weekends in January are already booked, Courtney said.

For more information about the farm visit fourgreenfieldsfarm.com.

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Posted by Lonnie Allen

Lonnie is the Pioneer's city/county reporter. He also coordinates the Gardens and Growers page. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8328 or by e-mail at lallen@pioneergroup.com.

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