Photograph Courtesy of Lilly Baker
Go Ahead Shred is a Berkeley High School (BHS) club that promotes the concept of all BHS students, regardless of their background, having the opportunity to experience the snow in an enjoyable and supportive environment.
Following in the footsteps of her older brother, current president Lilly Baker re-established Go Ahead Shred in 2016 after the club’s unexpected absence. During her first year as president, she organized two snow trips that made it possible for forty students to enjoy the wonders of the snow.
Although this was a clear success, some issues were encountered which led to a partnership with SkiDUCK. The issue was that the students that were able to go on these trips were students that were able to afford the expensive cost that is associated with skiing and snowboarding. In 2017, BHS Go Ahead Shred reached out to SkiDUCK, a volunteer based non-profit organization that is dedicated to enriching the lives of disadvantaged youth by teaching and promoting the experience of skiing and snowboarding.
SkiDUCK provides over a thousand youth from ages seven to eighteen with two thousand days of free ski and snowboard rentals, lessons and free day lift pass es so students can relish in the environment of their home base, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in North Lake Tahoe.
Neko Emerson, a Berkeley International High School (BIHS) freshman had never been snowboarding due to the lack of interest and funds from his family. Regardless, snowboarding interested him, and he saw this club as an opportunity to do something he had always wanted to do. When asked what the most memorable experience from the trip was, Emerson said “It would have to be all the falling, but the people who teach you are so supportive and amazing, so every time I did fall I got back up and didn’t feel bad about looking stupid out there, and going with a friend really helps.”
Though Emerson enjoyed going with a friend, a highlight from his experience was that throughout the trip people were “coming together and talking about the trip all as one. It was super fun on the way back, especially when we pulled out some Uno cards to play with.”
Go Ahead Shred promotes an inclusive and supportive environment in which participants feel really comfortable learning brand new skills and want to go again. Students are able to learn a new skill while still having a lot of fun with their friends. Additionally, this trip is an opportunity to meet new students that share the same interest.
Not only is the Go Ahead Shred ski trip a way to play in the snow, ski all day, and drink hot chocolate in the lodge, but it is an opportunity to branch out and be a part of a new community.
A typical Go Ahead Shred ski trip starts at 5:30 AM when students meet to begin their journey on a three hour ride up to the mountains. Next, around 9 AM, students arrive at the resort and are free to go roam and discover the snow.
Some may take lessons while some will head directly to the mountain. After a long day of excitement, everyone meets back on the bus at 4:30 and rides home, arriving back in Berkeley around 8 PM.
In regards to the actual act of skiing and snowboarding, Emerson said, “Snowboarding was hard at first, but as you gain your confidence it gets easier, and it does take practice and balance, but feeling the wind as you ride down the hills is like a breath of freedom. It honestly felt so good to be out there. But the next day my body felt like it’d been through hell and back.”
One of the several welcoming aspects of Go Ahead Shred is the fact that there is no experience required, so there are varying levels in skill.
“Skiing for me was really easy, it wasn’t that much of a challenge but when me and Ty went down the mountain it was really challenging,” said Aaron Guido Pozos, a sophomore in Academic Choice (AC).
In the future, Baker hopes to have as many trips as possible, if the snow permits it, and work to combine privileged and disadvantaged students on all of the future trips. Everyone is invited and welcomed to join their next trip to the snow where you are sure to have fun, make new friends, and see the snow!