Financially disadvantaged youth have been able to hit the slopes for over a decade thanks to the Bluebird Day Fund (BDF). With the winter season nearing, BDF is looking for volunteers to continue to make their program a success.
The Sports Mentorship Program is an initiative to give children an opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard at no cost, run by BDF in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Kamloops.
Alec Chaplin, co-director of the program, said it’s a great opportunity for kids who usually don’t get those types of opportunities or have a tough financial situation at home.
“For them it’s a different experience and something that they’re not usually going to be a part of,” he said. “Some of them haven’t even really skied before.”
The Boys & Girls Club is responsible for coordinating the youth who participate, while BDF raises funds to cover all the costs of transportation from Kamloops to Sun Peaks, rental gear, ski passes and lunch.
Chaplin said he encourages people to volunteer because it’s fun to see the children enjoying themselves. It’s also rewarding to watch them grow and excel, he said.
“When everyone’s ski levels have kind of increased to that point that we can go down runs together, we’re not split off into groups as much, that’s when it really becomes an awesome experience.”
Strong bonds are also formed through the program. Since the volunteers and youth spend quite a bit of time together over the winter, all the participants often become friends.
“We all get together at lunch and everyone’s laughing and talking about their weeks or just how much fun they’re having on the ski hill,” said Chaplin. “Near the end you’re all high fiving and everyone knows each other.”
Chaplin has been volunteering for the program for the past two years, but this will be his first season as a co-director. The program was a “no-brainer” for Chaplin to get involved with as he competed in sports for most of his youth and coached sports as an adult.
The Sports Mentorship Program runs two Sundays a month, beginning in January until the end of the winter season. BDF is looking for volunteers who have their own ride to the mountain and a season pass for Sun Peaks Resort. If a volunteer needs to purchase a day pass there is a small rebate available.
“Really it’s just trying to have a fun day out on the mountain with the kids,” Chaplin said.
He added they are also looking for anyone who is interested in donating to the fund. With the pandemic, BDF hasn’t been able to hold their normal fundraising events, leaving them a bit behind where they would normally be financially.
If you would like to become a volunteer or donate, you can reach out on their Facebook page or by email at [email protected]