As the Bogus Basin Nordic Team began gearing up for this year's season, the group started to think not only about snow, but also about how they could raise funds and give a little something back to the community--especially some of its youngest, newest members. So organizers formed a new refugee program and began planning the Tour of Boise Adventure Race, a scavenger hunt in downtown Boise.
"Basically, our whole mission, or philosophy is to create good citizens," said nordic team Head Coach and Program Director, Patrick Harper. "We want to give all kids the opportunity to try not just cross country skiing but multiple sports. With such a large number of refugees within the community, we decided to start a refugee program to help some of these kids--or new Americans as a lot of people call them--and give them an opportunity to get into our society in a good, healthy and positive environment."
The program kicked off the week of Oct. 11 with two young skiers. Neither had ever skied before and may never have even seen snow. And one of the new recruits is an adaptive skier: he is missing a foot.
As with any new venture, it can be difficult to go it alone, so the nordic team-sponsored program is looking to create partnerships with schools and other foundations to give these refugee children a chance to learn more about the Treasure Valley.
But students must meet the criteria before they can enter the program.
"We would like the kids to be able to get along with their English and to be comfortable being away from their families, so 13 or 14 years old is a good start," Harper said. "It's difficult for the transportation and funding side of things, but down the road we are hoping to get them much younger.
"The program is in place, we have the coaches, we have the equipment, we have the clothing and we can get these kids out there skiing. It's just a matter of starting small and making sure it works and then adding more," he said. "Since we started the program, a lot of people have stepped up and said, 'This is cool, we really want to get involved and what can we do to help?' I think that says a lot about the Treasure Valley community."
Harper also said that a mentoring program will be in place with the older, established members of the nordic team helping the new skiers. He is hopeful that there will be benefits on both sides of the equation.
"We are going to have the older kids on the ski team--we call them Big Buddies--look after the new kids to integrate them. They will learn about what classes to take in school, who the cool teachers are--the social setting that, I think, really breeds a healthy lifestyle. These kids don't always have that opportunity," Harper said.
The program will start small to ensure that everything flows smoothly, but the plan is to continue to accept more kids. By next year, they hope to have 20 or 30 kids participating.
"It's just a matter of figuring out how to fund it," Harper said.
One inventive way the non-profit nordic team will raise funds is by partnering with the City of Boise Arts and History Department for the inaugural Tour of Boise Adventure Race, which takes place on Sunday, Oct. 24. Individuals and teams will set out all across downtown Boise on a scavenger hunt of sorts; they'll explore the area looking for answers to a set of questions.
Kay Hummel and Shawn Del Ysursa, both parents of Bogus Basin Nordic Team members, came up with the idea and then contacted the city.
"It was a natural to connect with city's Department of Arts and History for help with the clues and questions," Hummel said.
"A representative of the mayor's office heard about this and informed our office that it could be an exciting new community activity," said Josh Olson, public program specialist with the department. "We decided to participate as a co-sponsor because the event focuses on the unique cultural locations of Boise. Nearly all of the answers that participants will be searching for are focused on public art and or Boise's historic locations, and the race starts and ends in Julia Davis Park."
Questions likely to be asked include identifying an artist who created art on a traffic control box downtown, counting the number of features in a various sculptures in the Grove or around the Capitol, listing the dominant colors of a Greenbelt feature or gathering data from bridges spanning the Boise River.
There are two courses for the Adventure Race: a short course expected to last about two-and-a-half hours and a longer course that should take about three hours.
Along with supporting the nordic team and the new refugee program, as well as learning more about some of Boise's public art and historic locales, participants will receive a T-shirt, healthy snacks and a bag full of coupons and one special treat: "Bragging rights of having done the first-ever Tour of Boise," said Hummel.