April’s donor spotlight includes all of the generous supporters who make the Snow Sports Alliance Program (SSA) possible. The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) would like to give a huge thank you to Alpine Bank, The Summit Foundation, Mountain Mentors, Blue River Sports/Mountain Wave, and Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center who all work with BOEC to help us get 10 Summit County kids out on the mountain to learn how to ski and snowboard, ten weekends in a row.

BOEC Intern and Snow Sports Alliance participant

BOEC’s Alexa Millward gives a thumbs up during Luis’ lesson

The SSA program gives Summit County Youth, who otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard, the chance to be involved in this glorious winter outdoor recreation environment. The SSA is a well-established Summit County youth initiative that connects Mountain Mentors students with ski/snowboard lessons through BOEC. Every Sunday the student receives a weekly small group ski/snowboard lesson, transportation to and from Breckenridge Ski Resort, season long rentals through Blue River Sports, and a warm place to meet at Beaver Run Resort on Peak 9.

Due to a lack of funding in 2018-19, this twenty-year long program was unable to provide services to Summit County Youth and we decided we could not let that happen again. In 2019-20 Alpine Bank and The Summit Foundation stepped up to the plate to bring Snow Sports Alliance back and to make it a highly recognized and essential program in our community. Without the support from Alpine Bank, Summit Foundation, and Blue River Sports/Mountain Wave, this program would not be possible. SSA helps socio-economically disadvantaged youth learn to ski and snowboard, and feel included in mountain recreation culture. Furthermore, the mentoring relationship created over 10 weeks with their instructor helps youngsters overcome certain obstacles and learn skills that will prove to be valuable in their maturation. Research has proven that youth in a consistent mentoring relationship have higher self-esteem, perform better in school and are less likely to begin using drugs or alcohol in the future. This means that all our supporters are involved in empowering Summit County’s future generation through sponsorship of the Snow Sports Alliance Program.

Alpine Bank Regional President Matt Hanson poses with BOEC staff and SSA Participant

Matt Hanson poses with BOEC staff and an SSA participant during 2019-20 season

Alpine Bank Regional President, Matt Hanson, was instrumental in helping with the financial support behind the program. Last year, prior to limits placed on in person visits due to COVID-19, he even got a chance to ski with the kiddos during a Saturday session. “It’s really special to see how your funding supports real families and real people in the community,” Hanson said. “It’s special to just be able to see what we do in action.” This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, BOEC is keeping him and the Alpine Bank team posted on all the hard work and fun on the slopes. Matt recently shared, “Excited to hear about the kiddos in the program. We are so proud that we are helping you and the BOEC make a difference in the lives of these youth.”

Jeanne Bistranin, Executive Director of The Summit Foundation shares that they are happy to support the partnership of The Snow Sports Alliance Program because it provides local working families with an opportunity to access the outdoors. “We want to be sure everyone in our community can enjoy all that Summit County has to offer,” says Bistranin.

BOEC Intern, Ben Landau, lends a helping hand

BOEC Intern, Ben Landau, lends a helping hand

“It’s been an incredible opportunity with our children because it’s a one-on-one mentorship for those that are new to the sport,” Mountain Mentors Coordinator Naaila Ahmad continued. “They’re starting from the very basics and these instructors are absolutely phenomenal.”

This year, we were not going to let COVID-19 hold us all back from getting kids out on the hill and Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center stepped up to the plate to provide extra space for the youngsters to rest and organize on Sunday mornings. And once again, Blue River Sports/Mountain Wave gives all students rentals for the season.

Mountain Mentors Program Coordinator Rebecca Dowd let us know, “The youth I have talked to love it! One mom that I spoke with yesterday who was a little hesitant about the long days and the commitment said her son asks each week if he can go and he gets so excited when it is time for SSA”.

Having a little fun with the Snow Sports Alliance

Having a little fun

Another mom said that her kids love it and they wish they could go every week. She said they are improving and excited to show off their new skills.

Another youth texted me that she is having a ton of fun at the lessons, but she has not had time to take photos yet because she is too busy learning!”

BOEC is extremely grateful to everyone who has come together to support the Snow Sports Alliance program and look forward to many more years of partnerships and getting our local kids on the slopes!