Listen closely, and there is a phrase you’ll hear often at the GoPro Mountain Games:
“Hey, that looks fun. Can I try?”
It might seem, at first glance, that some of the adrenaline-juiced activities at the Mountain Games are for experts only, but everyone has to get their start somewhere. For the next generation of superstars, that start might just come by being a spectator at the GoPro Mountain Games, where every high-flying event has a kid-friendly counterpart, and even the littlest toddlers can find fun, games, and adventure at the demo tents and events available throughout the event.
“It’s not a matter of what activities there are for kids to do, it’s more a matter of which one to go try first,” said Kate Peters of the Vail Valley Foundation, who organizes the event. “Climbing, kayaking, trail running, even slacklining. You name it, and there’s a way that kids can try it out at the GoPro Mountain Games.”
Davis Caldwell of Avid 4 Adventure, a nationally-known outdoor camp for young people, ran a climbing wall and kayak pool where Mountain Games attendees could sample a bit of mountain living at their Golden Peak demo area.
“Kids have it in their innate nature to just keep climbing and climbing. They just grab the hand holds and go,” Caldwell said. “Adults might have a little bit of apprehension, but kids don’t have that, they just get excited and get right into it.”
He said that research shows that kids only spend an average of three minutes outside per day. At the Mountain Games, however, kids can kick their youthful energy into high gear.
Earl Richmond, owner of CKS Mainstreet in Buena Vista Colorado, ran the SUP demo tent and pool on Meadow Drive in Vail. He estimated that about 70 percent of the people who demoed SUPs at his pool were under 12.
“It’s a big thing for kids,” he said. “They’re all super bright-eyed and bug-eyed when they get here and excited to get on the boards. The parents are a little more tentative, not because of the difficulty of the sport but because they don’t want to get wet.”
SUP has come a long way since it first hit the scene, Richmond said, and that includes improvements in the sport that make it much more family-friendly.
“Paddleboards are very stable now, especially with the new designs,” Richmond said. “We have boards that are seven foot two now, and the little groms just dominate.”
SUP, kayaking and climbing were just a few of the family friendly events ongoing at the 2015 GoPro Mountain Games. From a zip line over Gore Creek, to the kids trail runs and bike races, the childish spirit of the mountains was alive and easy to see in every direction.