Out and About


Out and About: Benefits of sledding during the Montana winter

Sledding at Carroll College
Posted at 8:38 AM, Feb 09, 2024

HELENA — Some fresh new snowfall doesn't necessarily mean you only have to immediately travel to the ski mountain and hit the slopes to appreciate it, you can enjoy the powder with other winter activities, just by looking around your community, or as close as your backyard.

"Sledding in Montana at Carroll with students. You know, we talked about how that's an opportunity for mindfulness as an opportunity kind of let all your stressors go, and just experience a moment," said Julian Nolen, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Carroll College.

For Nolen, however, sledding is an opportunity to get his class out and about, and uses it as an example, of Adventure Therapy.

"This kind of idea of, how can we not only have therapeutic experiences in the office, but then also take advantage of all these outside of the office opportunities to really make the most difference and the most impact, you know, throughout daily life is really something that s been exciting to me," said Nolen.

For the lesson on Guadalupe Hill, Nolen challenged his students to group up and make a sled out of different materials.

Some worked well, others like cardboard boxes and pool noodles, not so much.

"The idea is to give these students a challenge, say, put together a sled, achieve an objective with limited materials, and also different materials, between groups of students," said Nolen.

The lesson was also a chance for students to get outside the classroom and enjoy the snow.

"We enjoyed, you know, leaning into the winter instead of avoiding the winter as a way to sort of navigate Montana during, you know, kind of prime seasonal affective disorder season," said Nolen.

Nolen also mentions that the lesson is more than just psychology.

"It's an opportunity to work through a goofy challenge as a group and to learn the social and relational skills necessary to do that, to also build your support system," said Nolen, "It's a reminder that being in nature, we know from, you know, considerable repeatable research, has an effect of kind of refreshing our minds and refreshing our emotions and bringing our blood pressure down and helping us to kind of be at peace and to cope."