By Karen D. Lorentz
Pico may have just turned 80 years old, but the area is still young at heart.
True to its long history, Pico Mountain continues to foster lessons for children that the National Winter Sports Education Foundation (NWSEF) has awarded a $25,000 grant to expand the Pico School Program. The program offers a weekly ski/snowboard lesson to students in grades one through 12 on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
NWSEF has a mission to improve the lives, health, and fitness of youth through winter sports.
Since 2012, NWSEF has provided financial resources and program support to Youth Learn to Ski and Snowboard programs across the country. This year, approximately 25,000 youth will learn to ski or snowboard through their grantee programs.
“This is an opportunity many students may not get otherwise, and through this program we are developing a passion for winter sports and love of the outdoors,” said Katherine MacLauchlan, manager of Pico Snowsports, Competitions and Child Care.
Addressing the need for the grant, MacLauchlan told the Mountain Times that sometimes a school will send a busload of students but not have the money to pay for a second bus so that school is limited in how many children can enjoy the program. Or they may have students who cannot afford the $60 fee for the series of six lessons over six weeks. So she applied for the grant and now schools will have the opportunity to apply for financial help, whether for more transportation or student fees. Schools will apply directly to the National Winter Sports Education Foundation, MacLauchlan said, noting “it is a simple application.”
She also noted that local school children often stay with the program throughout their school years, thus improving their skills. The 90-minute lessons with Pico instructors includes rental equipment and lift tickets. During the 2016-17 season over 400 students from 12 schools participated in the program.
Students leaving the program, either due to aging out or changing schools, receive a learner’s permit which includes 50 percent off lift tickets, rentals and lessons for the current and next season. The program begins Jan. 18, 2018. Schools can sign up by contacting MacLauchlan ([email protected]).
Pico also makes skiing very affordable with a Vermont Student Pass available to all Vermont youth in grades K-12. The cost is $89 through Dec. 17, 2017 and $109 after. The pass grants unlimited access to Pico (valid every day Pico is open) and comes with rental and parent discounts.