Imagine living in an area with world-class ski resorts but never being able to experience downhill skiing for snowboarding because it was too expensive. For many children in the Tahoe Sierra and Northern Nevada, that’s a reality with the expense of equipment, lessons and tickets making the sport out of reach.
The goal is not to turn the kids into skiers and riders but to allow them to see the world from a different perspective.
That’s where Clint Lunde came in. An avid skier, Lunde enjoyed his time on the slopes and says he always made a point to stop and take a moment to be grateful when he was skiing. In 2009, he was injured while skiing and even during his recovery he was able to find gratitude. He was thankful for the beautiful mountains, the time spent with friends and the ability to ski. He wanted to share this gratitude with others and was inspired to create the SkiDUCK program, to bridge the financial gap by providing access to skiing and snowboarding to underprivileged kids.
“The best way to be grateful is to share with others the things we love,” Lunde says.
The SkiDUCK program is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization dedicated to teaching skiing and snowboarding (Ski) to disadvantaged and underprivileged children and older kids (DUCK). SkiDUCK held its first on-slope event on Feb. 7, 2010, at Squaw Valley. In its first season, the SkiDUCK program introduced more than 100 kids to skiing and snowboarding. SkiDUCK has held events at other Tahoe area resorts and across the country but its partnership with Squaw Alpine has continued since 2009.
Squaw Alpine is now the home base for SkiDUCK and donates about 1,800 to 2,000 lift tickets, lessons and rentals to help around 500 kids per season learn how to ski or ride. SkiDUCK events at Squaw Alpine are held throughout the season on select Wednesdays and Sundays.
SkiDUCK partners with local schools like Glenshire Elementary, Alder Creek Middle School, Truckee High School and school districts of Reno. They also partner with some school districts in the foothills, Sacramento and the Bay Area and local chapters of the Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts and Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County and Nevada County/Truckee. These groups select kids for the program and SkiDUCK facilities the coordination with Squaw Alpine. Once the kids hit the slopes, everything is taken care of and they are free to enjoy their time on the mountain.
The youth groups provide their own transportation to the resort but through donations, SkiDUCK covers the expense for equipment, lessons and lift ticket. Squaw Alpine donates a significant amount to SkiDUCK, and they also receive donations from individuals and local businesses.
Kids in the program range in age from 7 to 8 and sometimes older. Some of the kids have had trauma in their lives or are having trouble in school or at home. SkiDUCK provides a safe environment for them to have fun and be exposed to something new. The goal is not to turn the kids into skiers and riders but to allow them to see the world from a different perspective, to find gratitude and purpose, to be motivated to do well in school or to be more responsible.
Lunde believes that with hard work and determination something good can come out of just about any bad experience. SkiDUCK strives to instill this philosophy in its participants hoping to show them a way to weather life’s ups and downs and find light even in the darkest times.
Visit the Web site to volunteer with the program, to make a donation or for a list of local schools and organizations that SkiDUCK works with. | skiduck.org