In 1995, Jake and Donna Carpenter started the CHILL Foundation to teach young people how to snowboard. Every year since then, Rock Point students have joined the CHILL team on the mountain. We love CHILL because we share many values with the organization. While learning to snowboard is one of the goals, seeing their progress each week helps students build strength, confidence, and resilience.
This year on Tuesdays, a group of seven students and I take a bus to Bolton Valley Resort, gear up with equipment provided by Burton Snowboards, and hit the slopes. Olivia, a senior, participated in the Chill program last year and was invited back as a mentor for this year. This means our group gets her as a teacher in addition to the professional coaches provided by CHILL. The other six students this year are new to snowboarding. They started on a tiny hill by the lodge, learning to buckle in, fall properly, and how to scoot down the slope on their heels.
The next step was learning to do turns and stops. After the first week, a few students graduated to the tow rope and the smallest lifts. While some of our group continued to work on the beginning skills, the rest gained speed (both literally and figuratively) in their snowboarding journey. Sophomore Chace says, “The instructors are very nice and patient. I feel like I’m gaining confidence while having a lot of fun.” Another advantage of the program is that our staff member (me) is learning (and falling) right alongside the students. Just three weeks into the program, and I feel much more comfortable on a snowboard. We started off falling all over the place, and now we know that if you keep your eyes up and trust your body, you'll at least make it down the hill in one piece!
I am excited to see the improvement of our students each week, and I know by the end of this CHILL session, some of them will have picked up a lifelong interest in snowboarding. For more CHILL fun, check out the film Burton made with an RPS student in 2019!