$640 – Beacons are Lit! (Avalanche Beacons)
Student Philanthropists partially funded Teton Valley Ski Education Foundation’s proposal to purchase 3 avalanche beacons for freeride athletes in order to help keep programming affordable, provide proper avalanche safety instruction, and ensure the safety of athletes.
Our community’s lifestyle centers around the mountains for which the valley is named; the Tetons. Due to the length of the winters, skiing and snowboarding are integral to that lifestyle for many. TVSEF aspires to invite and engage all youth of our community into this cultural lifestyle by introducing and developing the necessary skills to experience it. Currently, they serve 175 youth in Teton, Madison, Bonneville, and Bannock counties in Idaho and Teton County, Wyoming each season. They also indirectly serve their parents – adults in our community. Many residents in Teton Valley are in need of programming for their children, especially in the winter, and especially outside of school hours. In this way, TVSEF satisfies the needs of the community of Teton Valley and beyond by providing opportunities for kids to experience the ski/snowboard culture and by providing adults with winter programming options outside of school for their children.
The Beacons are Lit! Project will help support TVSEF’s ability to continue to satisfy these needs for winter programming outside of school and provide opportunities to engage youth in the cultural lifestyle of our community, specifically, as it pertains to their Freeride program. The TVSEF Freeride program is designed for strong skiers who wish to focus on all-mountain skiing and refine their skills in the terrain park with greater emphasis on competition. Since the 2014-15 season, the Freeride program has seen 56% growth, 25 to 39 athletes. In that same time period, the feeder program, Alpine Development, has seen similar increases in registration, 42 to 66 athletes. This indicates that our Freeride program will likely continue to grow even more. Furthermore, based on the 2014 edition of the Teton Valley Almanac (page 11), the largest demographic at that time was 0 to 4-year-olds. Those children are now 5 to 9 years old. Our freeride program serves athletes starting at age 10. By planning now, we hope to build greater capacity within the program prior to this potential influx of participants.
The Freeride program requires additional equipment purchases by the children’s parents; even more than the Alpine Development program the athletes are coming up from. Based on the past three years, 50% of our younger participants chose not to continue with TVSEF’s more advanced programs, such as freeride, when it comes time to make that transition. Because the 16-week Alpine Development program fee is the same as the Freeride 1-day fee, it can only be surmised that part of this attrition must be due to the additional cost of equipment needed. Even for those athletes who make the choice to stay in the program, the finances are clearly still a concern as nearly one-third of our scholarship applicants this year came from the Freeride program. Therefore, if TVSEF is not able to help address these financial concerns, they are no longer capable of serving the community’s needs once a child turns 10. However, with the Beacons are Lit! Project, the hope is to provide assistance in overcoming that financial hurdle. In this way, TVSEF can restore their ability to serve a larger population of our community by providing winter programming outside of school and including youth in our Teton Valley culture.
Participating students felt the need for affordability, avalanche safety, and athlete safety was strategic and necessary. Beacons will be rented out at a cheaper price than purchasing one outright. Any beacons not rented will be available for athletes who forget theirs during trainings or competitions. Renal fees will go towards expanding the fleet of beacons in the future.