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CHILL | Ride | Inspire | Lead

Chill's mission is to inspire young people to overcome challenges through boardsports. Working with participants from marginalized communities and operating in 24 cities in 10 countries throughout the world, Chill programs pair core values with the excitement of learning snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, and paddleboarding to promote personal growth and a supportive community. An important part of the Burton Snowboards family since its inception in 1995, Chill’s positive youth development programs have served more than 30,000 young people by covering all costs and building strong alliances with schools, social service and juvenile justice programs, youth agencies, and boardsports partners.

Chill's underlying goal is "to help young people who may not see any alternative life path for themselves to "realize alternatives beyond the struggles they face."

Instead of focusing on numbers and predominantly empirical results, Chill evaluates their work and progress based on positive youth development (PYD) to ensure not only that these young people participating are represented as the individuals that they are, not as yet another statistic, but also to provide these kids with lasting lessons and tools.

Whether the Chill groups are hitting the slopes, surfing, stand-up paddling, or mastering a skatepark, Chill provides a positive environment and a hugely rewarding experience. To get a better look at where the foundation is today and to see how it has grown since our original article in 2001, I sat down (virtually) with Chill’s marketing director, Brittany Powell. At the forefront of Chill’s agenda, Brittany explained, is a pretty big expansion– Chill currently has “fifteen locations across the U.S. and in five countries globally” and they’re looking to grow their presence around the world “within the next year or two.” One such global winter program launched this year at Laax, Switzerland.

Despite this growth, Chill remains dedicated to their overarching mission– to allow kids to situate themselves in relationships with each other, themselves, and their environment through boardsports– and Brittany noted that "Chill now is really thinking about youth development but through the lens of boardsports and boardsports being the vehicle to think about core values." She also mentioned that Chill continues "establishing ourselves as a leader to increase equitable access to boardsports," which also rings true when we consider that boardsports have long been male-dominated.

Each program Chill puts on runs for six weeks and works thoroughly to not only guarantee a great time but also that the kids participating come away with real-world experiences of Chill’s core values– respect, patience, courage, persistence, responsibility, and pride.

"Every day they work a different core value," Brittany explained. For example, on the winter trips, a guiding question may be "how are we working with respect when we're out on the snow?" At the center of each program, Brittany notes, is an emphasis on "respecting the surroundings" and "having conversations about valuing our environment."

These conversations add to Chill's core values by helping the kids participating to better learn how to situate themselves in relationships with each other, with themselves, and with their environment. It was such a great opportunity to be able to hear from Brittany firsthand how Chill is positively impacting not only the lives of so many kids who may not previously have had easy access to such sports but also to the world of boardsports at large. In light of their growth and rapid development, Chill has not lost sight of their core values or their centering mission, both of which shine through in Chill's continued commitment to the positive experiences of thousands of kids each year.


This article is an update to withitgirl's 2001 article - see the archive piece Concrete to Powder: Hitting the Slopes with Burton's Chill Program

Nessie, an Associate Editor at withitgirl, grew up in La Jolla, California, always finding ways to maximize her time at the beach and under the sun. When she moved up north to San Francisco for college, her Environmental Studies major helped to deepen her relationship with the environment and the communities most impacted by global climate change. She is now living in New York City, working towards her Master’s degree in an individualized study program at NYU.

All Photos courtesy of Chill

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