There was no lack of laughter, smiles and encouragement as a local community staple opened Saturday for its 2017 season.
Sky Tavern, a non-profit, volunteer-based ski and snowboard program, offers a place for people of all ages to master winter sports. Open since 1948, generations of families sign up to learn the ropes of the slopes in what volunteer and parent Alicia Berkbigler said is a “drama-free, stress-free environment.”
“Being up here, you limit the borders of what school you go to or what neighborhood you live in,” she said. “You become part of this community. Every kid is here to learn. Everyone else is a parent, and everyone is a volunteer.”
The non-profit program costs go “right back to the hill for the kids and for operations,” Berkbigler said. Since there are no paid positions, volunteers are asked to work a 2-hour shift that includes roles from being an instructor to helping in the kitchen or checking lift passes.
She said passes for the 8-week session cost less than resorts to help include “everyone of any background” and if the children don’t have or can’t afford equipment, there are donated items available.
“Everything we have was donated. We have skis, boards, bindings, really, whatever you need to learn.”
After joining the eight-week weekend program, participants receive a two-hour lesson and can spend the rest of the day skiing or snowboarding. If a child is under 9 years old, an adult must sign up. For kids over the age of 9, they can join with an adult or participate as a bus student.
Whitney Weed said this is her first time enrolling her six children in the Sky Tavern program, and she said each child is looking forward to learning. For Weed, she said she’s most excited to share this experience with them.
“I grew up skiing,” Weed said. “I’m so excited to get the kids on the slopes.”
This is 8-year-old Henry Weed’s first time out on a big slope, but he said he’s not afraid. Instead, he’s ready to go fast, practice stopping and to master “all the cool tricks.”
Joel Lumsden said this is his second year bringing his children to Sky Tavern, who were both “up early this morning ready to go.”
“This is a great program, and easy on the pocketbook,” Lumsden said. “It may be chaos right now, but it’s organized chaos, and every week it gets better.”
For more information on Sky Tavern and registering for this season, visit their website at skytavern.org/programs.