S1 E8 Schone Malliet - Its About Culture Not Committees

Kris00:03

Hi everyone. Thank you for joining me on the BIPoC Outside Podcast. I'm Kris Cromwell. And today we're sitting down with Schone Malliet, a. Schone is the CEO of Winter 4 Kids, an organization that turned a dormant New Jersey ski area into a nonprofit. To give children access to winter sport. So let's get into it.

Schone. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate your time.

Schone00:32

That's great. Kris to be here. I'm excited about this. I think.

Kris00:38

Well, hopefully, hopefully when it's over, you'll say, yeah, it was, I was right to be excited. So jumping right into it, you have an incredibly diverse resume CEO, US Marine, pilot, ski coach, but you were born in the Bronx right?

Schone00:52

South Bronx. Yes.

Kris00:54

South Bronx. So take us on the journey from a boy in the Bronx to now the president and CEO of Winter 4 Kids.

Schone01:00

I don't know if there's a path that goes straight from a to Z. So I'm a project kid. So I, I would define myself as not one that comes from winter sports and an asphalt kid. So I grew up playing a lot of basketball. I think that through some luck, and some blessings. I went to Catholic high school in Harlem.

Rice High School. And then from there, I was lucky to get to go to Holy Cross, which That's an interesting story in and of itself, given how Holy Cross at the time went out to recruit Black students, to bring them to Worcester Massachusetts post Holy Cross. And I would say that Holy Cross was, there's probably three inflection points in my career.

Holy Cross was one of them. The Marine Corps was the other one and I think just my, my. Being raised by a single parent being the third inflection point you know, after Holy Cross, I went in the Marine Corps as a pilot and started off coming out of flight school as a very bad pilot. Mostly because I was scared to death of, of having to do this every day.

But through and with me, I always get things right. The second time went from being, you know, not so good to very, very good, mainly by, you know, when you arrive at a certain comfort level, you start to press yourself outside your comfort zone. And as you take those small steps, you get better. Yeah, my my life looks like a great storybook after it's done and the movie looks great cause it looks like a great plan.

However I would say that I did all those things, including being CEO of technology companies wealth management. And I Winter 4 Kids that it's a function of. It's amazing what you can do when you don't know that you're not supposed to do it So, and, and there were lots of surely fits and stops along the way.

And a lot of learning, I would say that I'm a perpetual compulsive learner that I probably. And internalize everything. And I probably look first to me for what I did or didn't do. But then I can't stay in that space. So that's probably the function of being an only child when there's not really a lot of support systems out there.

And I, I know that it has to be a miracle for the things I went through that you have to kind of fight your way through that and get through it. I would say that. That, that shaped how I manage and, and work with my team and people is that I know what it's like to get through tough times by yourself.

So I they will say that Schone when you ask how we're doing, you stand there and you look at our eyes and we know that you're going to go deeper, but I think it's important that for me to make sure that everybody has some place or some space to be able to go to when things don't work out with. I guess the, you know, that's the short story about that?

I think that, that you know, my, I first started skiing coming out of a Marine force's enterprise out of Nellis air force base and went to Park City the first time. And with my navigator who was an avid skier. And I was not, I went to, you know, follow him up the lift, no lessons, not the right clothes.

And needless to say it was not a pleasant experience and I just didn't do well, but I will go and say that when I got back to California connecting with probably the most organized ski organization in north America, at least recreationally the National Brotherhood of Skiers connected with Four Seasons

west Long story short, you know, misery loves company. They do a great job of post ski types of things. And so I stayed with it and went from, you know, never, ever, and hating it to being a student of it. And of course, then being a coach and now being able to run a facility just dedicated to use winter activities, not as an end not sports as an end, but at means of improving their lives.

That's a short answer. Kris

Kris04:43

That's a great answer. That's a great answer. So how did you go from becoming a never. ever skier You know, in your adulthood to a recreational skier to leadership positions at the NBS to leadership positions at what you're doing now, what was your inspiration to get involved?

Schone05:02

I think that the leadership side was something I always. Kind of navigated to I look at leadership is not the person who sits on the throne. I look at leadership as a person who is accountable and responsible to try to get the, the best possible out of the people around him or her, and to be a supporter, to help people to grow.

So that leadership side has been something that. I wouldn't say it was natural, but it's something that, that I think it's ingrained within my my core competencies. I think that again, the learning part of anything is, is another key component because I don't stop at it. So I'm constantly. But I'm usually a student of everything I do.

So skiing, you know, I wasn't only bad, but I wanted to find out why it was bad and, and to learn and grow by experience and always put myself kind of out where I want to be, but not necessarily prepared to be there. And so becoming more competent, both in understanding the technical side, but more capable and understanding the skill side to be able to leverage.

Being the penultimate, problem-solver both in leading company and being a resource to people at organizations to being able to apply that to things that I want to do as well.

Kris06:23

Nice. So what, what is your home hill now? Where are you skiing nowadays?

Schone06:29

At our facility Winter 4 Kids. You know, this is a, this is a dedicated facility, no adults for just kids. And I, and it started out Kris as, as the sports side. And that was in 2015, we've evolved from the sports side to the activity side and the context that. Well, we wanted to improve the life health and fitness of kids through winter activities.

We're much clearer on exactly what that is. So I embrace in my team and what we do, we embrace the fact that we develop better attitudes in kids through winter and actually outdoor activities about themselves. That's about self-esteem health, physical. Mental nutrition and activity and how they contribute to our overall physical being opportunity.

I'm going to come back to opportunity mastery so they can go from never, ever to some level of, of competency in skiing, snowboarding in cross country, and a love of the outdoors. Now let me go back to the opportunity. Most people won't recognize this, but my best metaphor or analogy for that. It comes from a movie by an, a song in a movie by Barbara Streisand.

Most people don't know Barbara Streisand, but if not go look it up. Okay. And she did a movie some years ago called Yentl and in Yentl, there's a song called a Piece of Sky and it resonated with me because I could, when I grew up. in the projects and the Bronx 1710 Lafayette avenue, apartment six, a when you look out a window, what you see.

It's all what you see the frame and all those things. So you can see a piece of the sky and some of the other things, but when you go outside and you walk outside and look up, the sky is much broader, is much higher. And so that's what we do in the context of everything. We talk about self health opportunity mastery, and the love of the outdoors, that, that piece of sky, that opportunity that we do creates the reasons or the ways for kids to decide.

I have some options now just to bring that into context in may I got a text from the principal of, one of our schools. Our customers are schools and youth serving agencies. And she said that one of the students who had been part of our program in a couple of previous years had got shot and killed outside of school.

This was last may and. And that was sad because this individual was always on that path between gangs and other things. And so the context of opportunity to give kids a

tangible choice of what we do here, that we are changing lives. Kris, 50% of our kids suffer from social PTSD. We associate PTSD. with being in wars and battles, social PTSD, 50% of these kids are exposed to, or have some experience with violence in their homes, violence in their neighborhoods or violence in their schools.

And 82% of them are free to reduced lunches. I would say that, you know, greater than 30% are. Black or African-American 24% Latinx about 17 to 19% white and 14% Asian. And others do not choose to identify, but these are kids who traditionally don't have access. And my reason for talking about this is that we're talking about the I, the idea and the.

Oh, how do I say the privilege of being able to out use the outdoors? Is that what we, we changed at the end of the day. That's what, Winter 4 Kids does,

Kris10:25

So you really, I mean, your mission is. Improving equity of access, but let's, let's wind it back a little bit is so it was 2015. You helped raise $12 million to buy the Hidden Valley ski area near in Vernon, New Jersey, and upgrade it to become the National Winter Activity Center. And this is where Winter 4 Kids operates.

So, so let's take a step back and talk about, you know, the vision of making this come together. So you could provide these opportunities for kids.

Schone10:55

Of course we started out prior to that and actually it came out of an initiative from a couple of trustees at us ski and snowboard and the intention was. Again, to create a sustainable way for kids who did not urban kids to have access to winter activities. And we started the National Winter Sports Education Foundation, which is a predecessor to Share Winter Foundation.

And and when we had the opportunity to purchase and acquire Hidden Valley, it was kind of a juncture where we could take what we were. Economically funding and providing best practices and tangibly create what we wanted to do. And so we're able to raise that, that initial funding and at Winter 4 Kids, which is actually a manifestation of the physical things that we wanted to do we repurposed and re-engineered it.

And that allowed us to To be feet on the ground. I mean the close interaction. And then I had a choice to make and I wanted to choose to be where I came from and to be a with a team, to be a change maker for kids with the National Activity Center and Winter 4 Kids

that 12 million

went way past that. And, and so this facility includes skiing, snowboarding, and cross country, new buildings, new infrastructure, everything that's necessary to ensure that the kids had a great environment, clothing, that they needed equipment, healthy meals, which is a key part. And then the opportunity to help develop life-changing skills through mentoring as part of the program.

Kris12:38

Any lessons learned on building a ski facility from the ground up.

Schone12:43

have everything there, there were things I speak like I'm an expert today, but five years ago, I didn't know. But had it not been for some individuals who I will say were skeptics, they had to be, I'm a Black person. who wanted to take over ski facility and re-engineer and re-purpose it and then people would ask, well, where does the money come from?

And those things, but they, to their credit, stayed with us solid people from Prinoth with groomers that people from HKD with snowmaking people helped us redesign the trails and architects and engineers. They all. Sat in the room, probably shaking their heads. But today have been really a big components of where we are and what we've evolved from, from some ideas.

Kris13:29

Amazing. So your mission statement is making unimaginable dreams, inevitable opportunities for youth. And so that sounds like you're talking a lot more than just winter sport. You're talking about developing young people.

Schone13:46

Sure. I mean, sometimes we gravitate the things without knowing the greater purpose. I would not be here if it hadn't been for individuals and the opportunities afforded to me by trying to play sports. So it's, it's a game changer and I think.

that when we talk about that, that kind of tagline it allows me to see and understand the real impact, which a lot of individuals might take for granted privilege. And then you know, and then I guess not really get it. So, you know, I'm going to bridge to something that we talk about a lot about diversity inclusion and equity.

And I'm going to say the statement that probably, I said, why you might not want to hear it. I don't necessarily gravitate to and embrace them.

Kris14:33

Tell me why.

Schone14:34

for that is that

consider these other statements of welcoming belonging, embracing. Okay. Consider those statements versus diversity, equity and inclusion. Actually, there were two E's and I swear, I always forget what the other E is and it bothers me because I I talk about a lot and I always have to look it up and I can never remember it, but I'll come back because I got into W.E.E.B. The embracing side, the other is empathy. So the difference is one is culture changing. The other one is really about institutional or it's. One of my interns said it's about committees. And, and so, I use this thing and to give you an example of what that, what I mean by that. Maybe not you, but others have, have you gone into somebody invites you to a party and you're new to the neighborhood and they say at the door, Hey, Kris is good to see, come on in.

And they take you there. They take your coat and they leave you and walk away and you know, no one. And you look around the room and you're looking for anybody who you can make eye contact with a smile. So you got to have somebody to walk up to and to kind of make the environment a little warmer. That's the same thing that we're talking about today is that.

You know, imagine that somebody came to the door and it says, Kris, good to see, come on and let me take your coat, Kris, let me introduce you to John over here. John does some of the work like you do, and they walk you around the room and then they say, Kris, this happens to be Paul. You and Paul are kind of in the same world.

Why don't you guys spend some time talking and those things that's, that's welcoming. The idea. About empathy is that to accept everybody's experience and what they feel about it without judgment. Embracing is that, you know, we, sometimes welcome people and we we're empathetic, but we keep our distance.

You, you need to be able to bridge the gap of unfamiliarity and then belonging, which is not only that letting a person feel they belong in the room or in that place. But there's the other part that the individual themselves feel like they belong there. That that's a different and a much more personal experience, but it's also it's a lot easier because if we're going to measure diversity and equity, inclusion by numbers, you'll get the numbers, but you might not feel welcome

now I'm going to flip a script that may not be in. So if you think about where we are in this country today, there is 75 million people who are on one side. I don't know that 82 on, another side. If we define inclusion as taking either group and moving them to the other group, I would argue that without welcoming them, And be empathetic about their experiences that it's do omed And what do you do with the 75 million individuals or as better yet? When we have these committees and workshops that we're trying to fix, one of the groups. Because by deciding to fix them, we've kinda decided that they were bad or are not right and is that something that's welcoming and empathetic and that is that help to bring us all in what we're trying to get to is this environment where everybody feels. So that's my. That's my pitch, not my pitch.

That's what I believe in the context of, of what's going on in this world. And it's going across gender religions, race, all of those things. And we we need to go deeper and it bothers me that, that we're focusing more on. Let's get more Black kids skiing It's not real yet. Let's help the kids understand that they can choose to do that.

And when they go that they belong and we're empathetic because we know they don't have those experience. So we're not going to look at them and might make fun of how the helmet is or how like, but understand where they come from and do what the National Brotherhood of Skiers at Four Seasons West did, for me, was that they guided you through this.

They helped you get through that. So I didn't feel bad in happy hour, helped the misery side, get a little bit easier to take.

Kris19:07

Yeah, I I'll never turn down apres ski. So what you're saying is you're really, you're really flipping it. You're going from, you know, community-based grassroots solutions of building community and building relationships, as opposed to top down solutions to get statistics.

Schone19:24

You have to do both. And I was with, I went to Holy Cross and I was with the Dean of students this weekend, which Holy Cross is a unique place, especially this last weekend. Incredible change at its whole history. First of all, Holy Cross, a Catholic Jesuit school in Massachusetts for 175 years. A priest has been the President

and this last year as of three months ago, It's not a priest anymore. And the president is also Black now. And, and, and this is the, one of the interesting things about the, the idea by welcoming belonging, empathy, right. And embracing is that when people says, oh, Holy Cross has a Black president and I go new no more than Winter 4 Kids has a Black CEO.

Winter 4 Kids has a CEO. Holy Cross has a president who happens to be Black, who happens to be from the Bronx who happened what I'm getting at, is at that perspective, changes how people respond to things. And as part of what the culture changing. Now, I would like to tell you, Kris, that I was original thinker and this was all my idea.

It was a 19 year old intern for Holy Cross, who last year or two years ago said. Are we talking about committees or talking about culture and what we're really talking about in winter activities and all that is culture changing? I'm not sure that everybody's there yet, but I think that, that at least it's a start.

Kris20:50

It's absolutely a start. And, and it's not just you're not just focusing on the opportunity for the children. You're you are really looking at it holistically. In terms of, you know, food in terms of reducing barriers like health of their whole person. So how does addressing things that way help to create opportunities for you?

Schone21:11

A good example is again, quotes from some of the kids who have been there at Winter 4 Kids that they tell me you treat us like humans.

The food that they have, they get choices for food. They don't have choices at home. So to get choices at its hot food, it's not sandwiches. It's hot food. We've actually started a summer for kids, kind of, daycamp because the summertime is when these kids were at most risk. Because they don't have the schools for meals and those things

and so to use that as to continue to make a difference, I think that that all of these things change what your perspective is. And then adding to that, not only just what you eat, but we're adding hydroponics to it. So let's grow the green vegetables. Let's see that understand that you?

can grow these things vertically, not in the ground, but in buildings, so that how would you feed?

So using those things as life-changing sharing information that not only changes perspective, but changes what kids start to think. So it's a wonderful place that we've been able to take the best from people outside integrated in programs. I would try to do a better job of getting it really integrated, but.

To really deliver and be a, a institution that's making consistent continuous improvements to the communities that we serve.

Kris22:37

So you're coming into your seventh season, is that correct? sixth season Sorry. So you're coming into your sixth season. What are some of the impacts of the Winter 4 Kids programming that you're seeing.

Schone22:50

I think for the kids themselves, they're now wanting to come back and now it's being seen as not just this whim of somebody, but actually as a place for, for us to think about integrating within an education process and an experiential process, we're seeing some parts of the industry embracing it. Camelback mountain.

And us started doing a relationship where the kids who graduate, so to speak from Winter 4 Kids after three years, get a season's pass access pass for three years and no costs that we're able to integrate their families with all seasonal all year round activities that we would do and help the shape of their families.

So, you know, a relationship like that, given that. You know, we're an education and, and a competitive entity. Those kids now can have someplace to go. And we look to mitigate that. So that's changes both in the industry, both with the kids. And I think the communities and on all of us, I continue to change and see and understand what some of the things that need to be addressed for those who are.

And non traditional cultures, I'll say something that's interesting. I I was at Holy Cross this weekend. I, and a lot of the Black students did not show up at a lot of these events and activities. And I asked them Michelle Marie, and she said, you know, they don't necessarily feel that they belong at them.

And this goes back to the context of that piece of sky until we Show everyone that, yeah, these are the options and you have a right to them and you should be in the room. They don't step out to, to, to kind of look at that. And that's, that's the other next step up of, you know, we talk about equity at all.

So the things about equity that I'm not sure that all of the experts in some of them happen to the experts of color are dealing with I don't know where this whole thing is going, but please don't give out my address. No,

Kris24:48

I will absolutely not give out your address. I promise. So you've, you've grown fast. This program has grown really fast. Last year, you had over 3000 kids from as far away from New Jersey as Louisiana

Schone25:04

not Louisiana. They've come from Georgia.

Kris25:09

Georgia

Schone25:10

And, and from Detroit. So Jalen Rose Academy in Detroit, and I think Riverside Academy in Gainesville and another school in Gainesville. And that goes to our program because it's, it's a multi-session multi-year program, six sessions each year. And those sessions are the first year. They are introductory introduction two in skiing, two in Alpine skiing, two in cross country and two in snowboarding.

And then when they come back, they get to choose which ones they master. So, I mean, it's on, on average three years, but they can go as long as they wish. And the, the interesting it's it's four hour sessions where it's healthy meals. mentoring clothing, cause a lot don't have it all the equipment. And.

And just numbers wise last year was COVID year so we're down numbers. We didn't do much the year before that was about 3000 we expect to try to do 3,864, this current season. And then they get 10,000 kids a year by 2024. The, the key though, that's happening with this post COVID, I'm not post COVID was still in, it is transportation.

And, and the issue about transportation is. It's not only cost, but not enough drivers. There are schools now who are canceling classes because they don't have ways of getting kids there. So, you know, as a nation or as a community, we're trying to figure out ways to mitigate the transportation issues.

Kris26:37

So when, when a little one shows up for their first time at a program, what, what would they expect? What does their, what does their day look like?

Schone26:47

Oh, I think that the, we, we have participant six to 17 years old and it's kind of the first visit is always the same because they look up. And it's daunting when you look up this hill and and then our group leaders meet them. They get them into the lodge, we feed them and then we help them through you know, getting equipment, getting clothing on and, and the early stages of this are to just to make them comfortable.

I mean, the context of what they need to learn when they first get here is first of all, one that you will fall down and then. Two is that hopefully, you know how to stop and we teach them how to turn, and those are the key things, but to do it in a non-threatening environment that, that embraces games, a lot of the learning is done with games on snow.

And I think that that's that helps them to develop skills without having to listen to somebody like me talk all the time. So, and that's part of, we kinda, we embraced that. Norwegian perspective. One of our board members, Helen Ingebretsen is from Norway and they teach their kids how to enjoy winter sports with games.

And so we're not original thinkers. We just make sure we take when somebody else is doing right. And then we give them credit and keep moving on. But, you know, and then it's they go from being fearful to being, you know, fun and not realizing that they're learning. And it's great to see their. progress

Kris28:12

That's amazing. And you partner with, with schools and with community organizations.

Schone28:18

Yeah. So um, roughly I'd say that this year we're planning on 73 different entities, you know, schools that are in rural, urban, suburban neighborhoods. YMCAs boys and girls clubs or any group. So if somebody says, I want my kids go, I don't have a group. We'll create a group, you know, either in your town or community connected with the YMCA but we're pretty flexible.

Kris28:42

So this is a completely different model from a public ski area.

Schone28:47

Oh yeah. There's no adults. There's no free skiing, you know? So then it's a sacred place for all all of these kids

Kris28:54

So how can a private nonprofit serve the children and their families better than a public area?

Schone29:02

Oh, I think that a public area?

can do it.

Kris29:05

Yeah.

Schone29:06

In fact, that can, it's a matter of carving out the space for them and then having. Access to food. They already have that. They have an area then then getting the right type of instructors who enjoy being around kids. And then they can follow a path. I think that this can be done and replicated anyplace.

Matter of fact, those other areas can probably do it a lot more efficiently than we can because we don't, we don't have the benefit of other paying customers. However, but it can be replicated anywhere. There's some places doing it. I think that's important to make sure you have a continuous program. I think it's important to make sure that you do more than, than skiing.

You use it as a, as a catalyst. But at the end of the day, I think that what we have is a, a framework that any area can do.

Kris29:59

And, and from everything, everyone who's ever interviewed you from all of the stories that I've heard, you had an incredibly efficient system from getting the kids from their arrival. To the point where they're on the snow, like you've worked this out. So what a, what lessons learned on that? Would you give back to anyone who wants to replicate what you're doing?

Schone30:20

Keep working at it because we're still working at, I think that looking for ways of, of keeping the individuals engaged a lot of. I think we've done some good jobs about getting metrics for pre-provisioning. So the schools provide us with their sizing and their weight and then their height and those things.

Then now we have a system that gives us the opportunity to kind of pre provision them. We used to go out and measure them all in the school. now that what we do is get the information and we'll realize that when we do this and we can configure, we're ready for them. We may need to tweak it a bit, but that's better.

We had a goal for being at 18 minutes off of the bus and into equipment. And on snow, we no longer kind of do that because we want to feed them. We don't want to rush them. We want to do some of we, we integrate some, I guess, life skills in a process. So we don't want to rush that. So we get to make sure that they have two hours on snow, you know, out of the four hours, they had food equipment and the mentoring, a life skill side of it.

So it's pretty good. Two hours on snow is a long time for these kids, but we we're getting better and more efficient. Kris. We still have a long way to go. So we, we continue to evolve.

Kris31:35

I, I appreciate your humility, but I think your program really speaks for itself and you, you go beyond just learning to ski. You, you have a competitive program.

Schone31:46

We do we do. And interestingly enough, those same values of health, self, self health opportunity, mastery and loving outdoors are the same things on that side. With those individuals being able to apply those same skills and a competitive environment from recreational to high school skiing we, we support college racing, special Olympics comes here for their Olympic games for the Nordic side.

You know, it's, it's the same thing and hopefully we'll get some of the kids from our academy program, the learning part of it into the competitive part and and see how that goes.

Kris32:23

Amazing. So how you know that you have an extensive network of partnerships in order to make this work, how did you develop the partnerships? How did you get the word out into the community that, you know, this is the programming and your offering and, and how they can get involved.

Schone32:44

I think first and foremost, I have a great team that gets out there and does all the right things. I think that now, you know, we we're becoming more known and it's it's interviews like this and social media and those things that, that gets the word out. We have to do a better job of, of of getting the experience out.

It's very difficult for people to feel the experience from a one dimensional on paper or, you know, one of my team says, shall we just have to get you out there speaking more? Because you know, it connects more I think that we don't, you know, there are seven, eight within a 70 mile radius at four and a half million kids.

So, you know, our attempt to, to. To change lives from 3000 to 10,000, we can't get to them all. But I do think that we need to do a better job of getting the message out, not about skiing. But about how the outdoors helps develop better attitudes about self health opportunity mastery

and the love of it. And I think that that by doing that, we're surely getting schools that are coming to us this year and all those things about how we can do this other youth serving agencies. We're not competing with anybody we're extensions of the things that they do.

Kris33:58

And the center operates as a not-for-profit and, and the children who come in for your programming typically are under scholarship or under some sort of, of reduction for the economic barriers. How does that all work out in the wash

Schone34:16

well, it's interesting that we have a number like the community foundation of New Jersey with a warm jacket fund. Or a schools, some schools could, can cover their fees. And but other entities that support schools, banks, and, and other organizations are to help mitigate the costs that are associated with doing this.

And we're working hard to drive down our costs. I mean, today as a nonprofit, we're probably still running at a place. We're raising about 50% of the expenses to support this. I hope to get us to where every dollar that we raise mitigates the cost and so long as the cost externally. But I think that, that there are so many individuals.

Like the Warm Jacket Fund the community foundation of New Jersey. There's the Boston foundation. There are individual givers some who want us to focus on the nutrition and and hydroponics. And I think we're finding a big a large community of support. And of course, a lot of my alumni at Holy Cross, which my board, interestingly enough, I did the numbers like four or five of us of nine or Holy Cross alumni.

It's a, it's a strong community that helps us to just be better at doing better.

Kris35:27

You're what are you an hour from Manhattan

Schone35:30

Our seven minutes on a good day from Midtown.

Kris35:33

hour and seven minutes. There is a lot of sort of perception about winter sports, about skiing and they happen far away, you know, they, and it seems, or there's a perception that it's really inaccessible to urban people, to urban youth. And you are completely destroying the narrative that winter sports happens far, far away.

So how, how are you doing that? How, w how do you get the message out that this is for everybody, regardless of where you are?

Schone36:02

Kris with conversations, like what you're doing now. And you know, and the other part of it, that's really kind of interesting. It's amazing what you can do when you don't know. You're not supposed to. So, yeah, it's I think that we, the communities themselves, the educators out there and the leaders of groups are?

our best advocates.

And when now we have a team that's going on. To look at those schools that are, who don't know about us. Like, you know, I'm going down to Trenton and Camden and going to Pennsylvania and working with those groups to figure out how to get them in. And, and then also working with places like Camelback and others to create these other programs around the area.

Kris36:41

So as you said, you've been doing a lot more interviews, a lot more media like this and you've developed a fairly big platform. So when you have the opportunity to talk back to the ski industry, what advice do you have to big ski to increase their ability to be welcoming, belonging, embracing, and their empathy.

Schone37:04

I think that's what those words mean to one this, these communities represent future growth. So there's a reason why you want to, to do all the right things, right. You know, empathy, embracing belonging, and welcoming, making sure that that happens because that helps the industry grow. I think that if I were going to tell them, I said, don't make it a numbers thing, make it an environmental community, cultural thing.

You cannot appeal to everybody's individual. Perspective, but if you embrace welcoming and the, what it really means, then no matter what the ethic group or agenda or ability. I may be differently able or disabled or I, whatever that is, if you just embrace the fact that everybody has a inherent right to be there and you make them comfortable about it, it's not that hard.

I just go back to like any biases. Have you ever gone to that meeting where you walk in the room and you go, Mmm Hmm. And then the other part about the written rules and unwritten rules. You know, people say, well, how do you carry your skis? There's not a sign that shows them that go in and understand that each one of them comes in there and then make that part of your connection with them.

People will respond to places where they feel that it's, that they belong there. And they're welcome. I don't think it's that hard, but I do a lot. It is different because it's personal. You're going to have to look across the table or wherever you are, and look at that individual and literally embrace them in a way I'm not talking about physically, but in your mind that, you know what, let me help them understand what this is about.

They need the right gloves or whatever. See, I, I, I go back to that. This is about culture, not about committee.

Kris39:04

I'm going to use that a lot. You're going to

Schone39:06

Okay. Just make sure you make a donation every time you use that it's copyrighted,

Kris39:13

I can't make a commitment to every time, but I can make a commitment.

Schone39:18

but this is you know, The head of relationships. And, she said, Schone, we just need you to get on a speaking tour and to talk about this, the things that are going through our country today, because it all comes back to this, this issue of welcoming empathy, belonging, right? Embracing, it's kind of interesting that that fits for everybody.

And it's it's not just a race thing it's triggered by that, but, and we have to look across the table across the aisles, as they would say in Washington and understand and respect where they come from and why, and then find the commonalities that bridges so that we all feel okay.

Kris40:04

And, and it's pretty clear that you're making those personal connections. You have an incredibly high retention rate at your facility, particularly given that the children who are coming into your programming aren't children of privilege, primarily.

Schone40:19

I think that that's part of how we set this up with the stakeholders that we have and supporting groups, but also now having them, after they leave us, they have a place to go Camelback resort. And so where we are, remember we're still evolving Kris, right? So we're starting to do this. And it's not the only way to do it.

But I think that for us, it's the way that you give those kids a path to continue. And that helps to do the retention rate. The reason why the retention rate, for winter sports stays around less sub twenties is because of lack of community, lack of mastery, lack of