A cool alternative to traditional summer camp.
The ski hills at Shredder Ski + Snowboard School stand 12 feet tall and 26 feet wide, ready for kids of all ages and experience levels to conquer. But these ski hills aren’t ordinary Colorado winterscape spaces. Instead of snow, they are covered in GrassWorx, an astroturf designed especially for skiing and snowboarding. It’s soft and designed to interact with skis and snowboards to simulate real life snow play. Instead of surviving blasting chilly winds and bulky winter clothes on bunny ski hills, kids can come to the Shredder indoor gyms to learn these winter sports through summer camps and classes offered across the Front Range.
Matthew Mazza, president of Colorado-based Shredder, moved to Colorado in 2010 to work as a ski instructor in Keystone, Colo. He was approached by a former co-worker and friend in 2019 to come on board to help with business development for Shredder, a new (at the time) indoor ski school. When he was first approached about the job, he wasn’t sure if he could apply his extensive traditional ski knowledge to indoor ski spaces.
“So then I went and I toured the facility and I saw some classes,” Mazza said. “Really that first experience is where I was hooked. It has the potential to change the industry and how we teach kids.”
Mazza doesn’t see Shredder as competing with traditional outdoor Colorado ski resorts because their goal is to introduce young kids to the sport and instill a love of shredding snow powder into the next generation.
“Our whole goal is to give them the fundamentals and the baseline knowledge of both [skiing and snowboarding] so that we can better prepare them to head up to the mountains,” he said. “We are trying to create a more inclusive environment… getting kids excited about skiing in a fun and safe environment so that when they do go to the mountains they aren’t as overwhelmed.”
Summer camps at Shredder’s six locations kick off May 31 and run through Aug. 18. Families can choose between half and full day options. In a typical half day session kids will get a mix of gym time, organized games, and an option to do STEAM training through Snapology in addition to skiing or snowboarding lessons in smaller groups.
“We will take one group onto the hill and do a ski and snowboard lesson,” Mazza said. “It might be a free ski day [or] it might be more of an organized lesson from our curriculum.”
Mazza helped Shredder develop a proprietary curriculum that aligns with the standards set by the Professional Ski Instructors of America, including their guidelines around teaching children.
During class on the ski hill, instructors will help all students safely navigate down the hill, all while increasing in their skills.
“We put a little bit of lubricant on the skis so that they can slip and slide appropriately,” he said. “As an instructor we have a lot of control over the speed of the skis.”
After the ski or snowboard lesson at camp, the first group of the day will switch with the second group and do an organized activity such as arts and crafts, games, or organized sports. After lunch, if students are staying for the whole day, the same process repeats, but students are free to switch from snowboarding to skiing (or vice-versa) if they desire.
“All of our spaces are super warm and inviting for kids,” Mazza said.
There’s also many different pricing and time commitment options. Students can drop in for just one day or they can sign up to go to ski camp for the whole summer. More days means steeper discounts.
“One of the really attractive things about our camp is you can sign up for one half day if you want to see if the kids like it,” Mazza said. “It’s a great way if parents are on the fence about whether they want to do a summer camp option. You’ll get exposure to the sport and the fun open gym play.”
By Rhema Zlaten, Raised in the Rockies