Not too old to learn something new


To be honest, I really have no business getting on a snowboard.

After all, I’m way closer to 60 than I am to 50 and my once-flexible joints are far stiffer than they once were.

Still, a visit to Bear Creek Resort and Conference Center in Macungie, Pa., gave me the opportunity to take on a new challenge—snowboarding!

Sure, one part of my inner self was screaming “Don’t do it. You’re too old. You’ll break something.”

Gale Gay, right, and her daughter Imani took their share of bumps and spills while learning to snowboard.

However the other part of me cajoled “Why not? Go for it. You’re only as old as you feel.”

I’ve long believed that learning something new is essential to a life worth living and that age shouldn’t automatically squash the urge to take on something new.

While I’ve skied before—once a year for the last few years—I had never attempted to snowboard. I’ve always associated snowboarding with the younger set, but I was a little excited about this challenge of a personally untried winter activity.

Bear Creek Resort—located on 330 acres 60 miles from Philadelphia—offers 21 trails for skiing and snowboarding as well as private lessons and a Discovery area for first timers and novices.  In this area, newcomers to skiing and snowboarding receive instruction and have designated roped-off practice areas. With a “results-oriented” approach, Discovery allows novices to return to the area as often as they desire for morning/afternoon/evening sessions.

Here is where my 20-year-old daughter, I and my reservations met our instructor for the morning, Danny Stokarski.

Stokarski, 25, who has been an instructor for a year, and interestingly, learned to snowboard at 10 on these slopes, showed us how to properly strap on our boards and then took us through a series of stations where he demonstrated various techniques for moving across the snow.

“We really try to stress the fundamentals,” he said.

My daughter and I sailed through the exercises with encouraging words from our instructor.

Before we knew it, we were taking the moving walkway up a section of the mountain for beginners to try out our skills.

That’s where things got dicey.

Although we shined in the first practice area and never fell, we were constantly splattering ourselves on the snow as we attempted to snowboard down the hill. It was rather difficult.

I must say that in some ways learning to snowboard was simpler than learning to ski. When I did fall—often and hard—it was easier to get up again (especially for a woman with bad knees).

After my sixth or seventh fall (hips and backside smarting), I unstrapped my boots from the board and walked the rest of the way down.

My daughter hung in there and worked her way down the mountain with a few additional spills.

Stokarski said that the school’s clients range from ages 8 to 60.

“I would say you’re never too old to learn,” he added.

We headed to the resort’s spa for massages (heavenly) and pedicures (well done) with the intention to return to the slopes later in the day. Strangely after chilling out for the afternoon we never made it back.

There’s plenty more to explore at Bear Creek—three progressive terrain parks and the longest snowtubing park in the region, indoor and outdoor heated pools and hot tubs, a spa and four dining venues. The 116-room Hotel at Bear Creek is located at the base of the mountain, within easy walking distance to the slopes and chair lifts.

Rooms at the resort are tastefully appointed in warm gold walls and deep brown and black furniture and picture frames with rustic red accents. And they are quite roomy with nice additions for families such as microwaves, refrigerators and coffee pots. Midweek “Ski & Stay” packages start at $98 per person and include an overnight stay, lift tickets for one evening and one day and discounts on equipment rental and Discovery lessons.

For more information on Bear Creek Resort, visit

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