Letter to the editor: Summit schools should have outdoor education program | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Summit schools should have outdoor education program

Nicole Lantz

As a new resident of Summit County, I was shocked to learn the public schools don’t embrace a countywide outdoor education program. The lifeblood of this community is the outdoor recreation industry. There are four huge ski resorts within a 30-minute drive. Shouldn’t the mountains be a part of the classroom experience for those who grow up here? Instead, every child in the county, starting in preschool, is given a Chromebook or iPad. What? Tactile play is so much better for the cognitive development of elementary-age children than staring at a screen. Wouldn’t a better use of resources be getting the kids outside?

A school-based program might be the only opportunity some Summit County kids have to learn how to ski or bike. None of the four ski resorts offer discounted lift tickets or lessons to local children, and the cost of regular passes is not affordable for many families. Consider children whose parents have never skied before: Where can they go for affordable instruction?

Here’s why you should care about this even if you don’t have a vested interest in outdoor education programs for local children like I do: Children who enjoy the outdoors through pursuits like skiing and hiking will become adults who care about preserving these outdoor spaces. If outdoor recreation is cost-prohibitive, particularly for the growing minority population in our county and our country, there will be a sizable chunk of the next generation that won’t care if the snow all melts or the national parks get bulldozed. A great reference is “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors” by James Edward Mills.

The industry supported by so many local residents should be accessible to the younger set through a partnership with every local school. As I said, I’m new, so let me know how I can help make it happen.

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