The Restorative Power of Skiing

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 03/05/13 •  4 min read

Those of us who love to ski know of its remarkable powers of restoration. Skiing is good for the soul. I’ve heard it said that those who are touched by the spirit of skiing know the joy of the mountain and the spirit of the wind. I couldn’t agree more. When you ski, the cares of your daily life fall away; it’s just you and the mountain, coming together in a beautiful dance. There’s not much that can top it.

So when I learned about the difficulties faced by The Haven, I knew I had to do something to draw attention to its plight. The Haven is a long-term residential treatment facility for women with severe addictions. These women are working hard to get their lives back together and become productive, healthy members of their communities. And skiing is part of the treatment.

Why skiing? According to Stephanie Robertson, Executive Administrator for Friends of The Haven, skiing helps show the residents how much fun they can have without the use of drugs and alcohol. It also helps teach them some important life lessons, such as how to persevere when things get tough, and provides the sense of accomplishment that can come with mastering a new and difficult task.

For the past five years, The Haven has provided ski trips for its clients. These are not pull-out-the-stops luxury vacations. Done in collaboration with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, the women get a day (or two) of experience on the slopes, along with ski instruction.

Are the trips worthwhile? Judging from the reactions of The Haven’s clients, I’d say yes:

Elizabeth: “I grew up in the mountains: Evergreen, Colorado.  My father was a ski instructor in Vail when I was three years old.  We grew apart when I was in my 20’s and I couldn’t afford to travel or ski or do anything that I knew.  My life took a turn for the worst when I started taking pain pills and I forgot what living a sober life was like.  I forgot how to appreciate the wonderful things that life has to offer until I came to The Haven. Going skiing and having the freedom to enjoy life–I can’t express in words how wonderful that was for me.  I remembered who I was, who I am.  The women who had never been skiing before now have a whole new outlook on life.  Skiing is such a magnificent experience.  I appreciate the chance to get to go skiing, it is a gift and I want to express gratitude for the chance to change my life.”

Christina:  “I haven’t been skiing in years because of my addiction.  I’m so blessed to have been able to have the opportunity to go again.  It was wonderful to actually experience something without being in my addiction.  I also enjoyed the bonding experience with my peer sisters.  We did nothing but laugh the whole time.  The experience of being out in the wide open space with a beautiful view was amazing; it made me realize how lucky I am to have this privilege.  I now see the different opportunities that I’m able to have.  I’m excited to introduce my kids to it now.”

I said in the beginning that The Haven was facing some difficulty. And yes, as you might have guessed, it’s funding. This is hardly a surprise, given the cutbacks faced by many similar facilities. The result: no more ski trips.

These trips are not that expensive: a two night stay at Winter Park, which includes lift tickets, equipment, lessons, lodging,  food, and gas, runs $125. per person. I don’t know how you could do it cheaper than that.

I don’t often ask for support for a specific cause, but these women are working to get their lives back together, and skiing truly makes a difference. Think back to what skiing has done for you. If you do, I’m sure you’ll want to help.

To make a contribution, go here. I know they’d appreciate it.


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