The following write-up is from former NENSA Executive Director Amie W. Smith who, among many other roles, is now on the Prospect Mountain Association Board and working to bring local elementary school students to Prospect Mountain to ski. Photos courtesy of Shaftesbury Elementary School principle, Jeff Johnson. We’re grateful to Amie and our other coordinators who are working to bridge the gap between the school-based Nordic Rocks programs and additional local programming offered at ski centers!
Over the past 7 years, The New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) Nordic Rocks program, a school based introductory learn to ski program, has brought the joy of cross country skiing to several thousand kids all over the Northeast.
NENSA’s Nordic Rocks program is generously funded by the Share Winter Foundation and the Killington World Cup Foundation and was developed to introduce children in grades K-6 to the excitement of cross country skiing. Nordic Rocks provides elementary school students with an opportunity to experience cross country skiing during the school day with their teachers and classmates, and to learn the health and lifestyle benefits associated with exercise and outdoor fun. The overarching goal of this program is to provide all children with an opportunity to ski.
This winter, the Prospect Mountain Association (PMA), the volunteer lead nonprofit that runs Prospect Mountain Nordic Center in Woodford Vermont, has taken this opportunity one step further. PMA has reached out to elementary schools in the Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union (SVSU) who have Nordic Rocks program in place, to offer them the opportunity to ski at Prospect Mountain on their 8 half-day Wednesdays during January, February, and March. This winter, students from Shaftsbury Elementary, Monument Elementary, and Pownal Elementary are taking advantage of this free program. PMA has offered these schools free rental equipment, free trail passes, and free instruction for 2 hours on these Wednesday half days. The kids have just loved this program and the opportunity to ski on full sets of equipment at a real cross country ski venue and have lessons from the wonderful group of PMA coach volunteers.
The goal of Nordic Rocks has always been to be an introductory ski program, with the goal of kids having the opportunity to “graduate” to other ski programs in their area when appropriate. The Prospect Mountain Wednesday half day program fulfills this Nordic Rocks goal and is right in line with Prospects mission to provide opportunities for kids to learn to ski and embrace and enjoy our Vermont winters. Amie W. Smith, PMA Board member, has been spearheading this new half day Wednesday winter program at the Prospect Mountain Nordic Center. She, and the PMA Board, feel strongly about having the local school kids learn to ski, and experience our wonderful local resource that is Prospect Mountain! The PMA Board’s goal is to one day have every elementary school in the SVSU be a part of this program and offer XC skiing to every child who wants to learn.
Another local option for youth to learn to ski is the Bill Koch League (BKL) Youth Program which is also offered at Prospect Mountain on Tuesday and Thursday after school. Both progression and opportunity are important in learning to ski. Progression is the age and skill level movement to more advanced opportunities. Opportunities are now available for our local Southern Vermont community youth in the Nordic Rocks programs found in some of our elementary schools, in the Prospect Mountain Association half day Wednesday learn to ski program, and in the BKL program offered at Prospect Mountain.