Ukiah scholars hit the slopes
When initially mapping out the six years ahead of them, many mentors come up with a “must do” list with their scholars. For example, when mentors realize that many scholars have never taken a trip to the beach, a trip to the coast goes right up to the top of the list. For Ukiah mentor Kim Roth, a ski trip became a “must do” as soon as she found out very few PSP scholars had been to the mountains. “When we first sat down and thought through what they could do in the first two years of being in the program, I thought about things we did with our kids,” says Kim. “I said, ‘Have you guys ever been to the snow?’ and they said no. I just think it’s one of those things that everyone should experience.” So she started talking with fellow mentors and some of the scholars in Ukiah about what they thought of taking a ski trip over the winter. Two other mentors stepped up – Elizabeth DeVinny and Roseanne Ibarra – and eight scholars were on board, and with one of the snowiest winters upon them, the Ukiah group was ready to take on a weekend trip to Dodge Ridge.
Like with most PSP overnight trips, the idea behind the weekend excursion was to have the students experience something new, get out of their element, and challenge themselves. Planning for the trip began last summer. “Originally we had thought about going up to Tahoe, but it was too costly,” says Kim. “My son was working up at Dodge Ridge and I realized it was much more affordable. It was a way more family friendly ski place than Tahoe: There was no traffic, no crowd, and no waiting in long lines.” Dodge Ridge is just east of Sonora at Pinecrest, in Northern California’s High Sierra Mountains. The three mentors and eight scholars stayed in Sonora, about a 30 minute drive from the ski area. Going as a big group – a mixture of five eighth, two ninth and one tenth grader – the scholars were able to bond in the car, overnight at the hotel, and then on the ski slopes. “At the beginning they weren’t that talkative,” says Roseanne. “Within a couple hours, they were talking and laughing.
It was really beneficial to have the one vehicle because they had more time together to form more of a bond.” A group trip like this one was not only beneficial for scholar bonding, but also for the mentors to get to know each other better and spend time collaborating. “Elizabeth and I had time together on the deck while [the scholars] were skiing and had time to talk,” says Roseanne. “She and I had time in the morning and afternoon to plan and talk; that was a good bonding time for her and me.”
Kim noted that individually, the students might have given up after being challenged by the difficulty of skiing or snowboarding. “Two of the girls weren’t used to being pushed before,” says Kim. “They both came back after their lesson and said they were really pushed by their instructor. If they weren’t all together, they would have quit. They were able to work together and overcome their challenges together.”
From the beginning stages of organizing the trip up through the end, Kim and her fellow mentors found they ran into very few problems. Their biggest worry was weather and being sure that students packed the correct items for the trip. “Kim reached out to [Ukiah’s Regional Coordinator] Jean Lincoln and they gathered up some items – ski pants, gloves, pants – which really helped because then they didn’t have to purchase or rent those items,” says Roseanne. “It took some coordination to get everything together with permission slips but overall it worked out,” says Kim. She says it was “all worth it” and that the highlights of the trip were “seeing the kids come down the hill for the first time and watching them figure out how to do it.” She adds, “Another highlight was that they all bonded and they each had an opportunity to do something out of their element.”