Snowboarders and Skiers For Christ combine community, commonality
Special to the Daily
If you go
What: Snowboarders and Skiers for Christ’s final community skate night of the season
When: 6 p.m. Sunday, March 29
Where: Dillon Community Church, 371 La Bonte St., Dillon
The chocolate-coated version of the Easter holiday is presented with marshmallow Peeps, candy bunnies and egg hunts, but the day’s Christian origins celebrate the belief that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.
The holiday is a time for family gathering and food and, for some, religious reverence for what’s also known as Resurrection Sunday. For Summit County’s chapter of Snowboarders and Skiers for Christ (SFC Summit), every Sunday during the winter season provides a time to merge a meeting of faith, friends and feast.
Max Hibbin, co-director of SFC Summit with his wife, Alyssa Hibbin, said the mission of the chapter is to be a place where everyone feels welcome. The group has an organized gathering at 6 p.m. every Sunday night while the ski areas are open, from late October or early November through late March or early April.
“We do have religious beliefs, we are Christians, but we rely on the community to make this happen, and it’s all about making everyone feel welcome and bringing the community together,” Max said.
The gathering meets at the Dillon Community Church, with free food such as lasagna, sloppy joes or mac and cheese and activities such as mini-ramp skating, slack lining, free ski and snowboard waxing and “shred flicks” (ski and snowboard videos).
Girls’ coffee with SFC Summit meets at 8:30 a.m. at the Pour House in Dillon on Tuesday mornings, which will continue through the summer.
“There’s not a lot of girls in the community,” Alyssa said. “We’re a bit outnumbered, so it’s really fun to get together and encourage each other. It’s building community, which is what’s it’s all about.”
Snowboarders and Skiers for Christ is an international organization that partners with local churches to provide a platform for Christian faith to thrive in ski and snowboard communities.
SFC started in New Zealand in 1997 and has since spread out to England and North America. Joshua Stock, SFC’s international director, who is based in Summit County, brought the organization to the United States from New Zealand 10 years ago, and the nonprofit now has 38 chapters all over the country.
Max and Alyssa moved to Summit County in 2010 and, at that time, assisted Stock with SFC Summit. The couple then started leading the Summit County chapter in 2012.
“This county sees a lot of traffic, in and out, so a lot of people really don’t know how to find community and friends,” Alyssa said. “Every single year, it’s a new bunch of folks who come into town, and it’s a new community and a different community, but ski season it’s so cool to watch community build and grow.”
Matt Gates, 33, lives in Summit Cove near Keystone. He started helping out with the weekly SFC Summit events this year, and he said he sees the main purpose of the organization as giving back to the ski and snowboard community.
“People who come up to Summit County to work for the season don’t usually make a ton of money,” he said. “It’s nice for the lifties and the people who work for the resorts to have a place to come hang out and eat food.”
Sometimes, Gates said, people attend Sunday’s community skate night purely for that “free” incentive.
“People have come in not knowing what it was but came just knowing that there was free food,” he said, “and that’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Gates grew up in Texas, but said he was not raised in a Christian household. Although he lives in Summit County, he said he attends a church in Denver.
“I didn’t become a Christian until I moved to Colorado,” he said. “For me, I can go to SFC and meet up with friends who are in the Christian community who I may not see on a regular basis. A lot of times, they’ll end up going on Sunday nights, and that’s a time to meet up, hang out, catch up on life and strengthen relationships.”
The group does not hold formal meetings in the summer, but they do arrange barbecue, volleyball and bike ride get-togethers, among other things. Gates said there are several people whom he has met through SFC Summit who have become lifelong friends.
The group’s last Sunday evening session this season will be on Sunday, March 29. SFC Summit also offers a men’s bible study on Monday nights during the winter, which ends on Monday, March 30.
“We are just here because we know God loves us, and God is love, and we want to share that love with other people,” Alyssa said.
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