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The Ultimate Transportation to Freedom

Left to Right: Sandra (13), Adil (14), staff Carl, volunteer Ava, and Andy (12) pause a moment before heading up the chairlift at Massanutten. For all three students, their day with Wilderness Kids was their first time on skis.

Ski documentarian Warren Miller once called a pair of skis “the ultimate transportation to freedom.” This month, Wilderness Kids aimed to introduce our students to that unique and incredible form of transport!

On Monday, January 22nd, (a teacher workday), a gaggle of students, staff, and intrepid volunteers set off for a ski day at Massanutten Mountain in Virginia.

Ultimately, 14 students strapped on skis and made their way up the magic carpet to slide down again, learning from our caring volunteers and staff to pizza wedge, turn, and stop. Over the course of the day, some students truly excelled, mastering multiple turns and skiing so in-control that they qualified to venture up the chairlift to more challenging slopes awaiting them up top.

Others found success in learning to carve two or maybe three turns in a row, before tumbling to the ground to stop themselves from going too fast! The falls were mostly fun and attempts to get back up again were generally a cause for laughter and often a helping hand.

Clockwise from top left: Douaa (12) poses before hitting the slopes; Adriana (12) enjoys a moment of lazing in the snow; Arafa (13) and volunteer Christina in between runs;  Zaki (13) executes a perfect pizza wedge on the mountain. Alexandre (12) enjoys a warm moment indoors, as does Douha (14).

Congratulations to all of our students for trying a new sport and sticking through the hassle of renting gear, putting on oh-so-comfy (not!) ski boots, and waddling around on two improbably designed boards made of wood, fiberglass and metal. Your persistence paid off in the rewards of smiles and accomplishments! And, in a few cases perhaps, the taste of freedom that Miller described.

Congratulations also to our staff and our volunteers for getting us through a complex day. Anyone who has ever taken a large group skiing and/or taken never-before skiers out onto the mountain, knows that doing so can be frustratingly slow, complex, uncomfortable, and even exhausting. 

Our staff and volunteers handled the whole situation with grace, working patiently with our students to get their boots on and fitting well; straighten out socks that made those boots uncomfortable; assist when a journey up the magic carpet ride went awry; or demonstrate one more time how a turn can be manifested. You were truly wonderful.

Thanks also, of course, to all our donors. Despite discounts from Massanutten for which we are very grateful, this day was the single most expensive Weekend Outing that we’ve undertaken at Wilderness Kids. Furthermore, thank you to the incredible community who, in the 48 hours before our adventure, donated gloves, goggles, jackets and ski pants to keep our students warm. We couldn’t do this without your generous support.

We hope you enjoy the photos and look forward to getting our kids skiing again next year!

Clockwise from top left: Douaa and Douha (sisters) execute "pizza wedge" and "french fries" perfectly; Arafa skis under the afternoon sun; volunteer Tara takes a moment to strike a pose amidst teaching turns; Ronmy (15) calls it a day, skis on shoulders; Adriana rides the magic carpet to the top.

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