I recently enjoyed my first NERSFL recreational trip. I joined about 44 other sighted and visually impaired adults from several states up in the cold and snowy northern Vermont town of Craftsbury at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center for 4 days and 3 nights of incredible fun.
Beginning with the convenient travel arrangements to get to our destination, I could tell this was a well organized extended weekend of activities created by caring and dedicated volunteers! Who would think that even a van ride with 7 other Vision Impaired Participants (VIP’S) could be fun? But, it was!
The Outdoor Center facilities were fabulous, and once oriented to my surroundings, I felt comfortable exploring all three floors of the Cedar Lodge dormitory building. Although our meals were all held in a different building, the sighted guides always escorted us over to our meals efficiently and helpfully. They couldn’t have made meal times any easier to enjoy. And the food itself, produced from as many Vermont made products as possible, was terrific. One evening, though, when I asked a woman to assist me over to dinner, it was only when I was halfway there that I discovered that she wasn’t a part of the group I was there with! She was part of another group that was there to ski, as well. Good news, though! She did a fabulous job of being a sighted guide; did it willingly; and safely reunited me with the NERSFL folks I intended to eat with. Oh, sometimes being blind can be exciting! And, this wasn’t even the skiing part.
For me, this was my first cross country skiing in 20 years. My last trip was with the Outdoor Enrichment Program run by the Carroll Center for the Blind. On this NERSFL trip, I began tentatively, but soon discovered that every guide on this trip was well trained and a very experienced skier. With clearly communicated instructions, I was soon out on a variety of beautifully maintained and groomed ski trails through the woods and fields. There was even a track set on the long lake adjoining the Outdoor Center property where gliding and building a rhythm was easily accomplished by skiers of all abilities.
All I know was that I was one very tired, but contented, skier at the end of each of the three days we skied! If it was as enjoyable by the guides as it was for the other VIP’s and me, then I’d say it was a totally win/win event. Since guides came from several different states to help make this trip possible for people like me, I have to believe they get as much out of the experience as the VIP’s they work with.
Thank you so much to everyone involved with the NERSFL organization, as well as for Ski For Light International. For people with little or no sight, the chance to participate in athletic activities is a vitally important part of feeling truly alive. We all need these opportunities to feel good about what we can accomplish, and the guides certainly did their very best to make that possible for every participant on the January 2015 trip to Craftsbury. I am totally hooked, and plan to be back for the next trip to Craftsbury! Thank you, NERSFL!