When I first went to SASS Argentina, I was fifteen. I flew down there with my little sister but I was effectively on my own. It was my first time traveling out of the country without my parents and I was nervous. My trip was going smoothly until I reached Buenos Aires. We were standing at the baggage claim and my sister had gotten both of her bags but the only bag of mine that had shown up so far was the bag with my skis in it. My bag with all of my gear and clothing was nowhere to be seen. After several minutes that felt like hours, we concluded that my duffle was not going to come around on the carousel. I had the phone number and photo of the SASS contact I was supposed to meet for our airport transfer but I was hesitant to call him.
He’s going to think I’m such an amateur, I thought, determined to find my bag by myself.
I decided that, since I had thoroughly completed Spanish II in school, I was fully qualified to locate my missing bag.
“Dónde está mi ski bag?” I asked the airline employees. “Mi ski bag no está aqui.”
Growing increasingly frustrated and with the time before our next flight beginning to dwindle, I accepted that I was going to have to abandon the search for my bag and call the SASS contact. He was frustrated that we waited so long to call him but he made sure that we weren’t too stressed out and he helped us get to our next flight in plenty of time. On the flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, I stressed the whole time. I had no clean underwear, no ski socks, no contact solution, no toothpaste, no pants, no ski gear. All of my meticulous packing had been for nothing. I had nothing except for my skis and boots. I stressed the whole flight and the whole drive up to the resort. I was rehearsing how I was going to tell the staff that I had none of my stuff and I was nowhere near prepared to ski. As I stepped through the doors of Base 41 with an apology fully prepared, I was greeted by the smiling faces of David and Becky.
“We heard you lost your bag,” David said. “I’ll track it down, don’t worry about it. Go get settled in your room and then we’ll find you some gear. Let me get your bag.”
I was immediately adopted into the SASS family.
Girls I had never met were letting me borrow their extra goggles and gloves. I was wearing people’s extra ski jackets and pants. It was a group effort to make sure I was geared up and ready to be on snow the next day. Admittedly, my outfit was absolutely embarrassing to look at, but the fact that I had it at all was what meant the most to me. Everyone in camp had pitched in to make sure I felt comfortable and at home.
I constantly tell people about the “SASS family” and no one really understands how real it is until they’ve experienced it.
I arrived feeling scared and alone and I left having had the two best weeks of my life. SASS is unlike any summer ski program I have ever experienced.
Back when I used to do mogul camps, every camp I went to was just a summer camp with a little ski training mixed in. SASS, on the other hand, really works to go the extra mile with its U18 campers RV park.
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On hill, the guides work hard to make sure every kid learns proficient backcountry skills, skis their dream lines, and becomes a better all-around skier in the process. The guides listen to what each kid wants and puts together a program each day that satisfies everyone’s goals. Off hill, Counselor Becky puts together both camp and cultural activities that make experiencing a foreign country easily digestible and as fun as possible. The food is absolutely fantastic and the resort is full of countless activities and restaurants. What really makes the trip is the people – both the staff and the other campers. Everyone is so stoked to be there and everyone is so accepting and accommodating. Kids come from all over and bond over their shared love for the backcountry and the culture of Argentina. Everyone arrives as strangers and leaves as best friends. The priority of everyone on the staff is making sure every single camper has the best weeks of their life (and safety, of course.)