Bow Valley Kids Experience

This is the second year our children have been involved with Bow Valley Kids and I cannot say enough about what an amazing program this is. My husband and I have been snowboarding at Lake Louise for decades, but in the last few years have been seeing the hill through new eyes. Our boys, now 5 and 8, are already avid snowboarders and mountain enthusiasts. I would love to be able to take all of the credit for this, but much of the credit goes out to Lake Louise ski resort and the Bow Valley program. For our family, our time at the hill is about more than just skiing or snowboarding. It is about being part of a community of people who love the mountains as much as we do and learning about what makes these mountains so special.

Every trip to the hill has us enjoying the amazing runs, but with the kids in tow, we have taken the time to visit with the interpretive staff both at the snowshoe booth and on the hill. We have all learned a lot about the animals that call the Bow Valley Corridor home as well as the environment that they need to survive.

Through the Bow Valley Kids program, our boys have not only improved their snowboarding skills, they have also learned about mountain safety. The staff do an amazing job teaching our little shredders about being in the mountains, introducing avalanche and backcountry awareness in an age appropriate way.

Due to the nature of the program, ongoing lessons with the same instructors and riders, we have also gotten to know many of the staff and other parents, adding to our own mountain community. The ski hill has become a place where our whole family feels comfortable and as a result, it is a refuge from the sometimes, restrictive parenting norms that dictate life in the city. Our children, even at a young age, are allowed more freedom. They fly down runs without us holding their hands or hovering over them, confident in their abilities and knowledge. We are able to observe them at a distance as they explore and test their limits, and then celebrate with them as they progress past those limits.

There has been research into the importance of the connection between children and nature. Children who spend more unsupervised time in nature tend to be more confident, independent, caring and happy. While many of us see the value in encouraging our children to explorer and be in nature, we struggle to give them the freedom to do so without hovering over them. We have become terrified by the potential risks to our offspring and in an effort to protect them, are perhaps taking away something that is crucial to their development into the adults we would like them to become. The Bow Valley Kids program and Lake Louise ski resort have allowed us to begin to loosen our grasp by providing our children with the skills to be safe and successful and an environment where they can start to spread their wings.

Children grow up and become the custodians of the earth; they will be the ones responsible for the animals, trees, water and air. It is important that they love nature when they are handed this job. We protect and fight for what is important to us. Our boys love the mountains and Lake Louise and the Bow Valley Kids program have been instrumental in nurturing this love.

Alison Schubert

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