Self-confidence. Listening skills. Trust. Patience. Resiliency. Concentration. Safe risk taking.
These are just some of the many life-skills a boy learns at the Skylemar Ski Dock. Thanks to an amazing staff of water ski counselors, the experience of getting up behind a boat is positively transformational.
NShep, BShep, Chad, Cocoa, Cory, Erik, Gibby, Tomas, Boxer and Maxanderson (the kids say his name as one long word) have a clear understanding of the importance of their job. Not only is safety paramount, but they also have the opportunity to be a part of the moment that a kid will remember the rest of his life – "the day I got up on skis!"
Their goal is simple – do whatever it takes for every boy to be successful in any activity he undertakes at the Skylemar Ski Dock. With over 180 skiers this year alone, they are well on the way.
For a top program like this, it takes four well-maintained boats and ten excellent teachers. In addition to skiing, there’s wakeboarding, wakesurfing, kneeboarding and tubing. There’s an intentional system in place to get you from the boom, to short rope, to long rope. Before long you’re jumping the wake and then getting up slalom.
The hot new aqua-sport is wakesurfing. For this there’s a specialized boat that makes big waves. The board has no boots – instead surface tension makes feet stick, and you get up like someone’s helping you off the ground. Once you’ve mastered the first steps, you learn to ultimately let go of the rope, and surf the boat's wake.
Even when you’re waiting your turn on the Ski Dock (and you always get a turn) there’s lots to do. First, the boys learn that it’s the responsibility of a skier to cheer others on. They do so as a group under the giant umbrella on the Observation Deck. On the permanent dock are balance boards and ski ropes for practice, plus plenty of room for “Cory Games” (team building and engagement games, typically with a ball).
Chad does this Trickey Whale thing the kids love (he goes below and leaps out of the water making a whale sound) and Nick offers “push-up surfing” on his back. Each ski counselor is known for something special, and half the fun is just hanging out with this crew.
Director Nick Shep explains that there’s no better feeling than seeing the face of a child who first gets up. It’s a giant smile, a look of amazement, an “I-did-it-myself” excitement, and a tremendous sense of pride. The counselors are proud too, and prove that “if you try, you WILL succeed”. The Ski Dock counselors make sure of it.