For home-schoolers, ski lessons double as PE classes

No odorous locker rooms can be found in the physical education class Tamar Clifford’s kids take.

They don’t have to run a timed mile, nor do they get to play dodgeball.

But their PE class may be the envy of all PE classes.

Clifford organizes a weekly trip for 60 to 70 home-schooled children in Grand Junction for ski lessons every Friday in January and February at Powderhorn Ski Resort.

The trip doubles as the children’s PE class and brings in extra business for the resort.

“It’s such a nice break in the winter to get out of the house and go do,” Clifford said. “And we get to go ski.”

Schools on Snow, a program at Powderhorn that provides ski lessons to groups of kids brought to the resort as part of school, provides full-day and half-day lessons, as well as discounted rates for groups participating in the program, said Kate Belknap, snowsports director.

A normal full-day lesson and equipment rental is $90, Belknap said. For groups of students 25 or more, Schools on Snow charges $45 for a full-day lesson and rental.

Belknap said the program has been at Powderhorn for at least 15 years and is wildly popular.

“It definitely keeps our midweek days busy,” Belknap said. “I’ve been the director for 10 years, and it was well in place before me.”

The program brings in an average of 40 to 50 kids a day, she said, but it can have as many as 200 on a busy day.

Last season, Schools on Snow served more than 4,000 children, and most were home-schooled students, she said.

“A good chunk of our business, probably 40 percent, is home-schooled kids,” Belknap said.

“They are more flexible with their schedules when they come, obviously.”

Traditional schools have to organize buses and excuse students from class, she said, but several schools in the area make Powderhorn a field trip, including Palisade High School,
De Beque Elementary and several private, Christian schools.

Clifford said attendance on the weekly trips is down a bit from last year when she took about 100 kids per week.

“That could have something to do with the economy,” she said.

“But when you’re thinking of PE classes, this one works out pretty nice, don’t you think?”


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