The Happy Hollisters Winter Sports Guide!

Brr! The days might be getting colder, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck inside. From simple outdoor games and activities to rigorous winter sports, there are many fun things to do outside during the winter. Need ideas? Here are a few outdoor winter activities that Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue enjoy throughout The Happy Hollisters series by Jerry West!


In The Happy Hollisters at Snowflake Camp, the Hollister children visit their grandparents at their wintertime resort in Canada. The children meet a young Norwegian skiing champion named Ruthie Janssen, who teaches them about her favorite sport and even gives them some pointers on how to successfully hit the slopes. Skiing, an activity which involves gliding across snow on narrow slats of wood, potentially dates back to the Paleolithic period over 22,000 years ago! Back then, people used primitive skis to travel and hunt during the winter. Skiing only became a recreational activity in the late 1800s, when the first national skiing race took place in 1860 in Oslo, Norway.

SkiJumpedToday, skiing is a popular wintertime sport for kids and adults alike, and many families travel to places like Switzerland, Utah, Idaho, and Vermont to stay at ski resorts. It is also a competitive sport and was first featured in the 1924 Olympics. In the Olympics, the disciplines include alpine, cross-country, and freestyle skiing, as well as ski jumping, which is what the Hollisters’ new friend Ruthie demonstrates so gracefully.

Snowball Fights

For those who want the thrill of skiing without strenuous activity, a good, old-fashioned snowball fight is sure to do the trick. Packing snow into small balls and tossing it at other people makes for great outdoor fun—as long as the snowballs are lobbed with playful intent!—and is a time-honored snow day tradition among children. Recordings of snowball fights date all the way back to the American Revolutionary War, when colonists would toss snowballs at British soldiers. Some historians believe that snowballs may have played a key role in sparking the Boston Massacre, considered to be one of the catalysts of the American Revolutionary War.

Luckily, snowball fights have also led to plenty of fun times, too. In Japan, snowball fighting is considered a wintertime sport and an annual competition called Yukigassen draws participants from around the world. The world’s largest snowball fight, with nearly 6,000 combatants, was recorded in 2006 in Leuven, Belgium, now considered to be the snowball capital of the world.

Wintertime Boating

Cold weather and boating seem like two words that shouldn’t go together, but as the Hollisters learn in their adventures, there are some people who actually prefer their boating to come with snow and ice! One type of wintertime boating is ice boating, an activity enjoyed by the Hollisters’ friend Dave Mead in The Happy Hollisters and the Trading Post Mystery. Ice boats look similar to sailboats but include a cross piece called a runner plank. Three skates, or runners, are attached to the plank, allowing the ice boat to sail across ice using the power of the wind.


In The Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival Mystery, the Hollisters learn about ice canoeing, a sport that is particularly popular in Canada. The sport developed out of the necessity of ferrying goods across the partially frozen St. Lawrence River during the winter months. In this sport, teams race canoes through the frigid, slushy river while navigating around ice floes, and in some sections of the course they may have to disembark and carry their canoe across rough patches of ice before continuing in the water. Ice canoeing can be dangerous, as Pete and Ricky learn when their small boat gets locked up in ice while they give the sport a try, but it’s a unique and thrilling winter sport for many French-Canadians.

Building a Snowman

Finally, if ice and snowballs aren’t for you, there is still one wintertime activity that won’t let you down: a snowman! Snowmen, or bonhommes de neige as they’re called in Quebec, play a big role in The Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival Mystery which takes place during the Winter Carnival. Snowmen, which are typically made out of large balls of snow and decorated with carrots, buttons, or other accessories, have been a large part of wintertime culture for years, Depictions of snowmen date all the way back to medieval times and are featured in countless festive stories and songs. One of the most famous, of course, is Frosty the Snowman, which was first recorded in 1950.

A fun fact about snowmen is that the best time to build them is actually when the snow is closer to melting. Fresh, powdery snow is harder to pack into the ideal shapes, but snow that is starting to melt and get slushy is perfect for molding. This makes building a snowman the perfect way to end a day of playing in the snow before heading inside to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa and marshmallows!

Whether you enjoy competitive sports, daring activities, or simply just frolicking in the snow, you’re sure to get plenty of ideas for winter sports activities from The Happy Hollisters 3-volume Winter Break Collection. And for those who really hate the cold weather . . . curling up inside and living vicariously through the Hollisters’ snowy shenanigans is always a great option, too!


by Libby Svenson Kennedy


Research notes, Andrew Svenson Archives of The Hollister Family Properties Trust,winter%20when%20they%20froze%20over.,The%20rest%20is%20history.&text=On%20the%20night%20of%20March,soldiers%20who%20occupied%20their%20town.


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