Although Sidra, 8, and Mac, 5, performed well, Kyle felt they were missing what made him fall in love with snowboarding at their age. It was time to show them the camaraderie and joy of snowboarding.
“What we experienced there, that’s not what snowboarding is to me,” shares Kyle. “I dedicated most of my adult life to being a snowboarder and now having kids that are really into it, I wanted them to experience it in a different way. What’s stuck out for all of us is that snowboarding isn’t just about the riding, it’s about the people you meet along the way.”
Disenchanted with competition, the family discussed getting a camper and touring around the west. Snowboarding at different resorts, connecting with other kids, living simply—and most importantly—having fun. This winter, they’re doing just that.
“I like meeting and snowboarding with all these new kids,” says Sidra. “It’s just fun watching other kids do tricks that we don’t know how to do.”
It isn’t easy to keep up with Sidra and Mac on the slopes. Sometimes all you see is an oversized blue jacket weaving in and out of the trees or a turquoise ponytail swish as it glides across the rail. Sidra and Mac seem nearly fearless when it comes to snowboarding. They take chances. They encourage each other. They’re becoming confident, supportive kids.
The family doesn’t particularly fit into the #vanlife mold. Kyle and Sarah divorced several years ago. Both talk about co-parenting and how it took time to get to a point where they were able to set their differences aside and do what’s best for Mac and Sidra.
“I'm proud of Sarah and I having gotten to this point,” says Kyle. “Being able to recognize that we’re two very different people and have very different ideas, but really settling into letting each other be ourselves and being able to come together to make this trip happen.”
There’s purpose in all the powder-chasing. When Kyle talks about snowboarding with his kids, he tears up. Growing up, Kyle didn’t have a relationship with his father. It’s an emotional experience for him now as a parent, seeing Mac and Sidra be as equally excited about riding as he is. It’s about a father getting to spend time with his kids, seeing them learn and grow.
As a teenager, snowboarding was a way for Kyle to escape from heavy circumstances in his life. Heading into adulthood, it was a way to find himself, explore new places and push boundaries. And now, it has shifted to sharing his passion with his kids.
Bringing this trip to fruition wasn’t easy. Kyle rented his house to save money, sleeping on the floor of his kids’ room for two months. The truck broke down on the way to purchase the camper creating a major unexpected cost. As they were trying to leave town, he discovered his passport was expired, resulting in a last minute trip to Denver for an expedited renewal.
“Things start to go not how you envisioned and you start to question the trip and question yourself,” says Kyle. But ultimately, he wants his kids to snowboard in an encouraging environment. They’ve been able to meet and ride with several kids along the way, including Smartwool Athlete and pro snowboarder Bryan Iguchi and his two kids.
“Snowboarding for Sidra and Mac, I feel like they've come a long way as humans,” says Sarah. “They’re good at opening up and looking at a jump or a cliff, although they’ve never done it, they look at it, understand it, and then they just do it. It’s amazing to see the confidence they build as they land each jump or they ski with a group of friends.”
The family is settling into life on the road with all of its ups and downs. There are moments when the camper feels small. Wet clothes are scattered around the floor. Being siblings, minor arguments arise that require some time apart.
Even though they’re not in the classroom, homework still has to be completed. Sometimes “vanschooling” takes precedent over play.
Getting ready in the morning can take a couple of hours. And there are moments when having a snack is more important than taking another lap.
And that’s ok. At the end of the day, they’re kids.
“The first three days were pretty high stress and I was getting frustrated a lot,” says Kyle. “But in reality, the kids were crushing it. They were actually able to make fun of me and that really lightened the mood for me to just let go of certain things.”
Kyle hopes the kids take away the idea that they’re a team. Sometimes things aren’t easy, but it takes working together to get through hard times. That could mean helping cook breakfast, washing dirty dishes, shoveling snow, taking out the dog or helping replace a flat tire.
“I hope they find appreciation in the things we’re able to give them,” says Kyle.
Sarah isn’t able to join for the entire trip. She selected a few resorts along the way but returns to Colorado to work in between stops. She wants the kids to see that this experience requires fulfilling responsibilities as well.
In total, the crew are riding 13 resorts. And while competition isn’t the focus, Kyle admits that by nature, his kids are competitive.
At just over 3 feet tall, Mac is determined to hit the highest jumps physically possible. “Jumps are my favorite,” says Mac, “And sliding on rails.”
Sidra, who rides with incredible grace, is steadfast on getting her speed up.
Kyle is beaming when he talks about watching his kids come into their own, on and off the mountain.
“I'm just proud to be their father,” shares Kyle. “They’re such amazing kids and they bring so much joy to everyone around them and they have so much love to give to people, it’s just incredible to see them become human beings.”
During their camper-van pilgrimage, Sidra and Mac are gaining perspective on healthy competition. Learning how to be a good competitor is understanding that it’s also about encouraging others to be better. This trip is really about returning to the roots of snowboarding. Bonding with other riders and sharing tips and tricks. Making new friends and experiencing new places. Being outside and connecting with nature.
“Even if we never get to do something like this again, they’re going to remember this forever,” says Kyle. “That they got to do this for eight weeks and experience all these things together. Your kids have the ability to undertake incredible adventures with you, if that's what you want to show them.”
See more of the family’s snowboarding journey at @stokefamily.