The Chill Foundation has been working with underserved youth since 1997, bringing kids the opportunity to learn life skills through the lens of snowboarding. This year, Chill has expanded its program into year-round board sports, with the addition of skate, surf and stand up paddleboard programs in six of its 12 locations. “We’re working on getting all of our programs to operate year-round, so we can have a bigger impact on the youth we work with,” said Chill Development Manager Stephanie Taylor. “We had our first surf programs in LA and New York this summer, and our first stand up paddleboard program in Burlington. It has been really successful, and it works because each location has a full-time manager who can coordinate fund raising and build the program. Eventually we’d like to have full-time people at all our locations and bring each one up to year round.”
Chill’s core youth development program revolves around a six-week curriculum focusing on the values of patience, persistence, responsibility, courage, respect, and pride, providing a framework for learning and personal growth. Taylor said the next step for the winter programs is to expand their Mentor Program, which currently runs in Burlington, VT and Portland, OR. “Our mentor program is the next step for Chill participants to help them build lasting relationships with their mentors. It involves 6-10 sessions, and brings the kids to the next level, both in their riding skills as well as in the life skills they learn through the curriculum. That’s a big goal for us right now, to expand the mentor program into more of our locations so the kids can build these relationships and continue with the progress they’re making.”
Chill serves about 1,000 kids per year, ages 10-18, and works with non-profit groups to get kids involved in their program. Clearly, supporting 12 locations in the US and Canada takes a lot of money, work and coordination. “We couldn’t do this without the help of our sponsors and without a lot of fundraising,” Taylor said. “It has been great for us to have a booth at the Snow Show as well; it’s a really good networking opportunity. We catch up with other groups that do similar things to ours, and we can share ideas. Two years ago we met the people who donated our website to us and work on it pro-bono, which was an incredibly big thing that came out of being there.”
Overall, it has been a year of big growth for Chill with the incorporation of the Mentor Program and the year-round additions of skate, surf and stand up paddleboard. “The most important thing is that the kids we work with are taking these life skills away from the mountain, water or skate park and incorporating them into their home and school lives to be more successful. It’s a very rewarding program to be involved in and we’re thankful to all of the volunteers and partners we work with who help make it happen,” Taylor concluded.