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The National Winter Activity Center Opens for its First Season in Vernon, New Jersey

The National Winter Activity Center Opens for its First Season in Vernon, New Jersey

The National Winter Activity Center just opened for its first season in Vernon, New Jersey, offering youth from across the tri-state area an opportunity to ski, snowboard, and get outside this winter season!
The National Winter Activity Center was founded in 2014 and just began its inaugural season in Vernon, New Jersey, with the mission to improve the lives, health and fitness of youth through winter activities. As a total outdoor winter environment dedicated to tri-state area youth, NWAC offers instructional programs for skiing and snowboarding, and will soon offer cross-country skiing. 
NWAC owns and operates the whole site as both an educational venue and a competition center. It works with well-known and established organizations such as YMCA, The Boys and Girl Club, and the Community Foundation of New Jersey’s Warm Hands Fund, to get kids who are already enrolled in these programs outdoors and moving during the winter months. The Center aims to keep the cost-of-entry as low as possible, and the tuition of $450 per participant per season is often subsidized with support from its partners. The cost includes all equipment, instruction, transportation, and meals. 
Over the course of seven sessions, kids are introduced to winter activities and develop skills both on and off the snow. Each child is a part of a group of eight students and one coach, and this group stays intact throughout the entire program, “which builds strong mentoring relationships,” says Schone Malliet, the founder and CEO of the National Winter Sports Education Foundation.
To accomplish its mission, NWAC has a strategic plan to lower the cost of access to winter sports, especially transportation that is a big determent in bringing new people to the sport. Currently, groups that live farther than 45 minutes away come to The Center on Saturdays and Sunday, and groups that are closer, or within 30 minutes, come on Tuesday and Thursday evening as well. 

 “Our goal is to minimize the economic and geographic distance from the slope,” says Malliet. “I’ve always been looking for a way to get more youth outdoors, no matter what their ethnicity or geography. I’m from the Bronx, and I know what a life changer it can be.” 
Since taking over the facility, formally known as Hidden Valley Resort, NWAC has made significant investments such as installing a state-of-the-art snowmaking system, two brand new chair lifts, and new slope lighting for night skiing. It also has renovated the lodge, operations building, and garage. All new investments were made possible by fundraising capital. 
Its first winter season will wrap up around mid-March, and then The Center is looking into year-long activities that complement its winter programming, such as cross-country skiing, activities that fit the NWCA mission to be “low-cost, high-value, and sustainable,” according to Malliet. 
NWAC aims to be fully sustainable as an organization, a facility, and within the community. “Skiing is one of the only sports that you can do your whole lifetime,” explains Malliet. “It can be a wonderful family activity. It’s important to us that we do things in a way that allows us to be around for a long time. We have a 50-year plan!” 

Catherine Patwell

Author: Catherine Patwell is a student of journalism and Italian at Hunter College. When not studying, she is running along the Hudson River, reading cookbooks, or plotting her next travel adventure. Catherine currently resides in Manhattan. See More

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