Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston teens have wrapped up a winter ski program that was made possible by Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust and Vail Resorts. The program consisted of five sessions at Vail Resorts’ Crotched Mountain in Bennington, New Hampshire. In addition to lift tickets for these five sessions, Club members received equipment rentals, snow gear, individual instruction and supervision across the mountain from Crotched Mountain’s staff, and transportation to and from the mountain.
“I feel special by the fact that I get to go,” explained Ahmieliyah, an Edgerley Family South Boston Club teen. “Not many people are skiing and snowboarding, and these are core memories. When I’m older, I’ll be able to say ‘Remember that time I went snowboarding?'”
The Edgerley Family South Boston Club group was led by Social Recreation Director Severo Nieves and Education Director Braidie Connors, who previously started Outdoor Adventure Club; a Club program that features trips that bring Club members into the wilderness for activities like hiking, camping, and cross country skiing.
“Some of our teens have done cross country skiing before, but some have never been on skis before,” explained Connors. “They’re all doing really well. They had been falling, but were getting right back up.”
The impact of getting to return to the mountain five times over the course of the winter was not lost on Nieves, who was able to see clear improvements in the participating teens in his group as the season progressed. “Being able to do this more than once means that anybody who fell that first session feels like they have a chance at redemption,” explained Nieves. “To be able to do this multiple times — five times — is wonderful.”
Dante, a teen who ended up skiing trails during the third session, was excited by his progress. “I definitely feel like I’ve gotten a lot better since last session,” he explained. “On the second session, I got a lot better because I learned how to stop. That helped me a lot with (not) falling, and I also learned how to turn better, and that has helped a lot too.”
The experience for the teens was bolstered by the friendliness of Crotched Mountain’s talented staff. “One of the most impressive parts about this has been the instructor staff,” Nieves said. “I know it can be very frustrating for the teens to get out there and have to try over and over again, and even though the ski instructors here are not part of a youth program like BGCB, they did everything we could have asked for. If we needed more instructors, they were dispatched out to us. If we had a need for a wide variety of skill and experience levels simultaneously, they had staff for everyone in our group. The resort has been incredibly accommodating and it has definitely elevated the experience for our teens.”
Opportunities like this exemplify the breadth and depth of programming offered across Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston’s nine different Club locations. “Here at Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, we want to build a sense of community,” explained Connors. “We want the kids to feel like this is a second home. By getting out of the building, by trying new things, and by having new experiences — especially doing that with staff — creates a different kind of bond. It becomes a place our teens want to be rather than a place that they have to be.”
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