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Alaska Youth Initiative: Boys & Girls Club learn to ski!

What do you get when you put 27 “never-ever” skiers and 8 volunteer ski instructors in one small rope tow area at the same time? Mayhem. Mayhem of the best kind, but still mayhem. Children grabbing a rope tow and falling over, being drug on their stomachs with skis behind them since they don’t know to let go, instructors trying to help, chasing after them to get them back on their feet, perhaps escorted up by another instructor for the next try. Teaching one to make a pizza, as projectile children come from above, so excited to try that they just point their skis downhill. Kids in a line trying to figure out how to side step, standing on each other’s skis in prevention of the progress of their neighbor . . . but all the while, laughs, squeals of joy, shouts of congratulations as a kid “got it,” and looks of determination abounded.

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Eventually we figured it out: 2 girls at the bottom helping kids line up and get on the rope tow, one at the top directing traffic, and the rest of us doing laps of escorting kids up the rope tow that didn’t have the muscle control to stand on their own, while grabbing a kid on the way down for an imromptu “pizza & french fry” session, lessons on turning, or just some encouragement.

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Anchorage is super fortunate to have a non-profit ski hill right in the city, Hilltop Ski Area.  With a rope tow, one chair, and beginner terrain only, it’s an amazing resource for new skiers, and has an awesome fun vibe to it.  They were kind enough to donate rentals for all the kids and tickets for the volunteers, and SheJumps funded tickets for 27 Boys & Girls Club Mountain View kids to step into new territory and venture into the world we all love so much: downhill skiing.

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As the night wore on (we went after school on Friday), many of the kids were ready for the chairlift, so we started to take small groups to the top.  They got to float high above the ski hill and see the city lights from the mountain, which was super cool to be a part of for the first time.  Many were scared, but most were pretty determined, pointing their skis straight downill from the top and going for it!  The kids were so stoked, begging instructors to take them for more, which we happily did, despite all agreeing we hand’t been so exhausted from skiing in a long time!

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Best of all?  Hilltop already invited the group back for another free ski day, and they had so much fun the first time, they’re ALL going back!

From Dave Barney, recreation director at Boys & Girls Club Mountain View, “Thank you and your crew for an amazing evening.  They certainly went above and beyond.  Our children had a wonderful time!  They’re still talking about it.”

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HUGE thanks go out to the volunteers (Meg Smith, Angela Coleman, Liz Hall, Greer Gehler, Erica Madison, Elizabeth Powers, Emily Bodner, Kellie Okonek) – we had a great time, and might have actually made a difference for some rad kids!!

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