Badge Support | Snowsports
Choosing to be active despite the weather is in the DNA of Scouts. In completing the Snowsports Staged Activity Badges, young people will grow to see wintry weather as an opportunity to enjoy a different type of sport. Patience, persistence and poise all play roles in the varied activities you can get up to in the snow.
The badges are designed for young people to develop their skills in snowboarding or skiing, all the way from Beavers to Explorers. As with all staged activity badges, young people start at whichever stage is appropriate for them and work upwards.
Note that all the stages could be completed on either natural or artificial slopes, however the later steps will be more difficult in an artificial slope environment, depending on your chosen sport. Our A-Z of activities is full of advice on skiing and snowboarding, as well as sledging and other winter sports that you might be including in your programme this winter.
There’s also lots of information on the National Governing Body (NGB) websites for Snowsport England, Snowsport Scotland and Snowsport Cymru Wales. More support for disability snowsports can be found on the Disability Snowsport UK website.
This badge introduces young people to the topic of snowsports - they begin by simply identifying different types of snowsports. You can refer to our snowsports fact sheet here for further info on the subject. Ask the section what snowsports they know of. Can they name three types of ski sports? Did they see any of the Winter Olympics last year?
For three places you could safely take part in snowsport activities, this could be indoor centres (ski centres, snow centres or snow domes), dry ski slopes, or snowsports centres, clubs or resorts in the UK or abroad. The Snowsport England, Snowsport Scotland and Snowsport Cymru Wales, and the Disability Snowsports UK websites have lots of information.
Once a snowsports activity is chosen, such as skiing or snowboarding, young people learn how to prepare for this sport. This includes how to warm up appropriately – take a look at the Snowsports warm-up activity from the latest edition of Scouting magazine (spring term 2019).
It’s also important to learn about what kind of clothing and equipment is used for the sport. This will obviously depend on the specific activity and location, but a would include things like skis, ski socks and boots, poles, ski jacket and trousers, goggles, ski helmet, gloves or mittens, and layers of clothing. Swap the skis and poles for a snowboard if that is the chosen activity, and you should be good to go.
Participating in a taster session is the final step to earning this badge If you have a dry ski slope or indoor centre near to you, why not see what they have on offer. You may notice the first stage of the badge could be completed without young people actually taking part in a snowsport activity, but we think it’s best to learn by doing.
For this stage, young people learn to identify the equipment needed for skiing or snowboarding, how to carry it safely, and develop their skills using it.
As part of this stage, young people demonstrate how to use one of two methods of getting to the top of the slope. A ‘magic carpet’ isn’t just how Aladdin gets around, it’s also a travellator or moving walkway – basically, a conveyor belt for humans – whereas a drag lift is more like a zip-line, which pulls the skier or snowboarder up the slope.
If young people are doing cross country skiing for this stage, instead they can demonstrate how to identify a suitable route. Information about cross country skiing can be found on the Snowsports England website here.
An important part of learning a new physical skill is being okay with stumbling at the beginning. It’s important to know how to safely fall and get back up onto your feet. Once young people are more comfortable skiing or snowboarding gently down a slope, they’re able to gain skills in making wide and narrow turns, and being able to stop and wait safely on a run while avoiding others.
To earn this badge, young people need to think beyond the gentler slopes and less challenging terrains they’ve experienced and consider what skiing or snowboarding down a mountain or cross country may feel like. Young people can earn this badge straight away if they’ve achieved a Personal Activity Permit for Snowsports. Information for young people about gaining a permit can be found here. Full details about the Adventurous Activity Permit Scheme can be found here.
Hazards of a mountainous environment could include everything from altitudes to avalanches, as well as the effects of extreme temperature in cases of frostbite, hypothermia, sunstroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. In case everything doesn’t go to plan, it is crucial to know what to do in the event of an accident and young people must demonstrate that they know this well.
Young people need to know and understand the ‘Ski Way Code’ published by the International Ski Federation. It is also important that young people know how to read the piste maps they may use when skiing, a helpful guide to understanding these maps, including the different classifications (colours) of runs, has been put together by the Ski Club of Great Britain here.
For the final two criteria for this stage of the badge, it may be helpful to young people to watch videos on YouTube. It will be very different when attempting to do the same things themselves, however being aware of what a successful run would look like can be very helpful when trying to recreate it.
Finally, young people attempting stage four must feel comfortable with traversing snow for activities. While you should always seek advice from someone experienced on the terrain you’ll be traversing, here is a helpful list of general safety tips published by the Telegraph.
In order to earn this badge, young people need to demonstrate a much higher degree of skill than previous stages. For example, black is the most difficult classification, so safely descending a black run isn’t easy but is a fun challenge to aim for.
Taking part in a snowsport they haven’t tried yet will both let them experience the joy of trying new things, as well as broadening their understanding of snowsports in general. If they’ve been using skis, it may be time for them to try a snowboard, or vice versa.
Again, watching videos of runs online can be very helpful for those struggling to nail their runs. Since young people are likely to be working independently towards this later stage, keeping their motivation high during section meetings may prove to be important. For dramatic inspiration, try watching an appropriate snowsports movie, such as Eddie the Eagle (PG, 2016), or Cool Runnings (PG, 1993). Make sure to enjoy shredding, slaloming, and sledding on those slopes.