Helping get kids on the slopes

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DOVER — The Backcountry Film Festival helps make sure no kid is turned away from the ski and snowboard program offered at Dover School.

"It's wonderful when kids get to do something with their friends socially and I think that the ski program itself is set up so nicely," said Jaime Alvarez, who founded the film festival last year. "Not only do they get lessons and some skills, they get to spend some time socializing with their friends."

She believes life is a lot better for people who have activities to do with their friends, especially in adulthood.

"Backcountry" refers to skiing or riding that takes place in unmarked or un-patrolled areas. Films related to this topic to be shown at the Snow Barn from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14, include "The Space Within" by DPS Skis Cinematic, "Ruth Gorge" by Noah Howell, "Below Zero" by Itai Hagage, "The End of Snow" by Jane Miller and Becca Cahall, "Follow Through" by Anya Miller and Becca Cahall, "Genesis" by Ben Sturgulewski, "Idaho 12ver Project" by Mark Ortiz, and "Adventure Not War" by Max Lowe.

Tickets can be purchased for $10 at the door or at eventbrite.com/e/the-backcountry-film-festival-20172018-tickets-39784142441. A family of two to four can pay $20 for admission.

Proceeds benefit the elementary school's winter sports program, which gets students skiing and snowboarding on the nearby hill at Mount Snow during school time. If a family cannot afford to pay for costs associated with the program, they can apply for a scholarship.

Eight Thursdays are spent skiing or riding at the local resort during the school year. Students receive a lesson and then get to go out with their friends.

"It's a great thing to get kids outside, especially in New England in the winter when people tend to stay inside and aren't as active," Alvarez said. "On top of that, it allows these kids to be social. That's the part I like most about the program."

Last year's film festival netted about $700 and ensured no kid was left out of the winter program, Alvarez said. She works with the non-profit Winter Wildland Alliance, which helps put on similar events throughout the country.

"They do fundraising all over to support nature," Alvarez said. "So if they see someone is going to be logging or destroying forests, they'll rally."

Alvarez has secured several sponsors. New this year will be West Dover Joe's, the Southwest Career Development Center in Bennington and Invasion Snowboard Shop.

At last count, Alvarez had about 15 door prizes and 18 raffle prizes to give away. The Dover School Club will be running a bake sale, which will feature not only dessert items but other foods.

The event is family friendly and the bar will be open. Pizzas will be sold at half their regular price all night. Snow Barn sales will not go toward the school.

Last year, the festival saw 50 to 60 attendees.

"So this year, maybe we'll double it and that would be nice," said Alvarez, who holds certificates in backcountry training and has lived in Europe, Colorado, Montana and now Vermont, where she has taught snowboarding for six years at Mount Snow.

Her daughter is a student at Dover School.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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