This year Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services (NCNS) were invited to go on a snow trip by the Chill Foundation ran by Burton and of course, we jumped at the opportunity as this meant the young people that we work with would have the chance to go to the snow.
The Chill foundation works with social service and mental health agencies, foster care programs, juvenile justice programs and schools in local communities to select young people to participate in their program where everything is provided to the youth at no cost.
Accommodation at Action Learning Initiatives‘ (ALI) Bungarra Lodge, ski wear, snowboard, boots, lift passes, 2-hour ski lessons each day, breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 1:1 lessons with Lucas and Ash from Burton with the young people in ‘free’ time, were all provided by the Chill Foundation. NCNS provided transport to and from the snow, snow shoes, socks and thermals plus 4 NCNS workers who went along to supervise and support the young people throughout the trip.
NCNS staff with 20 young people travelled down to Thredbo bright and early on Tuesday morning (10/09) and once they arrived, they met with Mariah from ALI and Ash and Lucas from the Burton Chill Foundation.
The young people ate lunch before they eagerly headed over to the ski rental to get fitted into their boards and boots. Once fitted, they headed out to the ski fields for the first session with Thredbo ski instructors and after this finished, the young people had some free time to practise their developing snowboarding skills.
After this exhilarating first day on the snow, the staff and youth were absolutely buggered and travelled back to their accommodation to unpack, shower and then headed to the mess hall for dinner. After refuelling their tummies, they enjoyed playing games including pool, table tennis, tips, hide and seek and at 9:30pm headed to bed.
Some of the young people who stayed up later than they were supposed to, regretted that decision, at the 6:15am wake up call the following day!
Some of the young people had expressed to our workers that they were struggling with the snowboarding and did not want to get back on their boards on day 2. Staff explained that this was their first-time snowboarding and encouraged them to have another go because ‘as we practise, we get better.’
When Ash & Lucas invited the young people to go out on their boards, our workers were not sure if they would take up the opportunity but were incredibly proud when every single young person grabbed their boards and strapped in for what ended up being the best day for all of the youth and staff.
Our staff enjoyed the opportunity to connect with all the youth during the chair lift rides, from hearing the stories of the difficulties they were having when they first started, and now seeing their excitement at being able to snowboard down the mountain with very few falls, being able to stop, mastering the leaf manoeuvre to start the S move.
During the second ski lesson, the young people were feeling more confident and were really looking forward to the free ski after lunch. NCNS Aboriginal Community Worker, Trudy Grant enthused, “The energy from the group was electric and contagious, they were all encouraging each other from the chair lifts, ‘come on Billy, you can do it,’ ‘You’re doing so well Braydan, keep it up,’ There was a lot of encouragement from all the young people, it really was a great experience.”
One of the best things about this trip was that by the end of day 2 on the snow fields, the young people did not want to go home. Although there was an agreed time to meet back up, being an hour late didn’t matter after seeing their faces and hearing them talk enthusiastically about the day.
Trudy explained that after dinner that night, “There was a sense of connection, a special bond had formed through their shared experience of learning to snowboard, music was playing, young people and staff were dancing, others playing pool and table tennis. It was such a great vibe and a wonderful way to end such an amazing day.”
NCNS Aboriginal Community Worker, Bronwyn Nuttall, also commented, “I’m proud of all the young people and the fact that they never gave up! They also encouraged me to keep going, so not only did they encourage each other, but also our staff. This was my first camp with young people, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
By the third day, it did not take much convincing for the young people to strap in their boots and boards. They had more free time before their lesson and the improvement, confidence and developing of their snowboarding skills was truly amazing.
At the end of the trip the young people were gifted a Burton Beanie and left the snow with heavy hearts, although grateful for the incredible experience. They wished they could stay longer! Out of 20 young people, only a couple had been to the snow before, but none had ever snowboarded.
When asked what the highlight of this trip, NCNS Worker, Trudy Grant replied, “There were so many highlights on this trip. It’s been a few years since I have been away with young people, but I have to say, it was one of my favourites. The young people’s behaviour and attitude through the whole trip was fantastic but the highlight would have to be whilst on the chair lifts with each young person, the encouragement they were yelling out to each other blew me away. We had no fights or arguments on the trip, it was all positive encouragement for each other and when you get 20 young people together, there’s normally at least one or two fights, arguments or disagreements that you need to sort out but we had nothing like that which made for a great trip with some awesome young people.”
The feedback we received from the young people who attended the snow trip was extremely positive, including:
‘Do we have to go back home?’
‘I didn’t think I could do it from the first day, now I ski down the mountain without falling over’
‘Thank you for staying with me and not giving up on me’
‘Can we do this every year!?’
‘I didn’t really know anyone before coming but now I have some new friends’
‘Best trip of my life’