Snowsports charity Snow-Camp provides inner-city youngsters with an opportunity of a lifetime

Snow-Camp is a UK charity that uses winter sports to affect change in the lives of disadvantaged, inner-city youngsters. Founded in London in 2003, the organisation has supported more than 10,000 young people in its 15-year history and operates today in Bristol, Scotland, Cardiff, the Midlands and Manchester. Snow Camp ambassadors include Sir Steve Redgrave and it is the UK’s only registered charity using a combination of snowsports, life skills sessions, qualifications and vocational opportunities to support young people.

By making snowsports accessible to those who would never normally have the opportunity to learn how to ski or snowboard, Snow-Camp breaks down barriers and broadens horizons by introducing young people to entirely new environments and affording them invaluable life skills. The charity’s work increases youngsters’ motivations and aspirations, enabling them to gain employment in the snowsports industry and beyond. To gain a place on Snow-Camp’s initial programme, young people must have no prior snowsports experience.

For the vast majority of children, it’s their first time boarding an aeroplane

Initially, children as young as 13 are referred to the charity’s First Tracks Programme which is a two-day course in skiing or snowboarding in one of the UK’s artificial winter sports centres. Then, having experienced the thrill of snowsports for the first time, they move on to the Graduate Programme which takes place over six weeks and involves a series of group classes. This gives youngsters the opportunity to learn from professionals in the snowsports industry and athletes, with the aim to inform and inspire youngsters. Those who have been through Graduate Programme are awarded an ASDAN Sports and Fitness qualification.

Snow Camp
Snow-Campers on completion of First Tracks

The Excel Programme is Snow-Camp’s ten-week youth instructor training programme. It involves a week-long trip to Italy and those who complete it are an accredited Snowsport England Level 1 Ski or Snowboard instructor. For the vast majority of young people on the Italian trip it’s their first time boarding an aeroplane. For five of those who have completed the Excel Programme there is the opportunity to progress onto the next step: apprenticeship. Snow-Camp apprentices benefit from work placements across the industry over the course of a year, including the chance to work at international snowsports events. Those who complete the Excel Programme, but don’t make into the competitive paid apprenticeship route, are directed toward the Snow-Camp Youth Forum. The Youth Forum meets monthly in each region, and is run entirely by its members – two of whom sit on the charity’s Board of Trustees.

Now, as part of a partnership between Snow-Camp and Les Hotels d’en Haut hotel group, two young Snow-Campers and Youth Forum members have been selected to spend a season working at the five-star Le Fitz Roy Hotel in Val Thorens. 18-year-old Zulekha Dennis and 19-year-old Hamza Alkebida, both from London, were first introduced to Snow-Camp at the age of 13. The partnership has allowed them to practise the skills they learnt on their Snow-Camp journey.

Sno Camp
On the slopes

Dan Charlish, founder of Snow-Camp has said of the partnership: ‘‘We’re so proud to be partnering with Les Hôtels d’en Haut. They are offering our young people an amazing opportunity to build on the skills they’ve learnt with Snow-Camp that will help them go onto securing successful careers in the ski industry. We’re extremely grateful for Les Hôtels d’en Haut’s support and can’t wait for our young people to experience working in such an impressive ski resort.’’ Ten further youngsters have also benefited from the partnership through the chance to visit the hotel group’s nearby Hotel Le Val Thorens, to get a taste of professional life in the mountains at an Alpine hotel.

Valéry Grégo, Founder of Les Hôtel’s d’en Haut said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Snow Camp on such an exciting and worthwhile project. Seeing their amazing work and their dedication to changing lives made us jump at the opportunity to be involved in any way we could.”

Last year, 100 per cent of young people who completed the Snow-Camp programme journey gained at least one nationally recognised qualification and 91 percent went on to further education or employment and perhaps, more importantly, 98 percent said they were proud of themselves.