Colter Elementary Bike Program
A few days ago, we invited Colter Elementary’s After School Bike Program to tour the shop before they went for a ride on the pathway in Teton National Park. We talked about different styles of bikes and gave them some quick pointers on maintaining their own equipment. Afterward, we talked to the camp’s leader, Janet Munro, about the program and found out more about the kids’ remaining schedule.
Q: What’s your cycling background and how long have you been running the Colter Bike Program?
A: I’ve been cycling since I was 4 years old and it’s always been a big part of my life. I didn’t grow up bike racing but I rode my bike everyday and I remember every bike that I’ve owned. My parents didn’t want to get me a bike when I was younger (5) because we lived in Baltimore and they were afraid of me riding in the city. So, I secretly taught myself how to ride on a friend’s bike. When I finally got a bike at age 6, they were surprised that I already knew how to ride. Later in life, I did start to bike race and that led to me working in the biking industry as a buyer at Hoback Sports. A knee surgery one winter led to me starting Teton Junior Cycling Program, which was a non profit dedicated to teaching young riders in Teton Valley. Our courses started with “getting off training wheels” and gradually advanced to a high school group that rode once a week during the summer and participated in some local races. I ran that program for 4 years but couldn’t continue on with it. I just started teaching the Colter Bike Program this year after they contacted me in the Spring to see if I would be interested.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the camp’s History?
A: It’s brand new. Colter After School Program has been around for a while, but this segment is a new addition. We offer all kinds of physical activities for grade school children throughout the school year. It’s a great program, a great group of kids and it’s really fun to give back to the community that I love so much.
Q: How many kids are in the program, what is their age range, and skill range?
A: Usually we have 10 kids on bike days. Their ages range from 9-11 right now but that’s flexible per group. Their skill levels vary amongst kids who have cruiser bikes, kids who like to jump on BMX bikes, and kids who like to ride the trails. They all have a passion for riding their bikes, which you can just tell from their enthusiasm.
Q: What is the goal of the camp? Is it just focused on mountain biking?
A: My goal for the camp is to teach bike safety, pathway and trail etiquette, as well as biking skills and techniques. I am truly amazed by the lack of bike etiquette on the pathways and trails sometimes. I think it should be a school class in the sense that driver safety is a class. It’s really hard for kids to understand how they can be at fault on their bike with a motorist and I personally want all bikers to have a good rapport with all other pedestrians and drivers.
Q: What have you guys done so far, any exciting things still planned through the end of camp?
A: Each week we progress depending on the group’s effort and ability to listen to the instructors. The first couple of weeks we are building a friendship with them. It is so fun to work with the kids–They all have amazing personalities and a unique skill set. We start with pathway riding to get our group form and listening skills on track. As we progress, we go to various trails around the valley. We also are visiting bike shops to learn about different styles of bikes, bike care and maintenance. We will be having a few on-site demos for the kids to watch, like DH riding/jumping on Teton Pass as well as a BMX demo at the skate park. There are endless possibilities with styles of riding on a bike and I just want to expose the kids to that excitement!
Q: What is the best day you’ve had with the kids running the camp?
A: Week by week it gets better and better because we all know each other more as a “bike team”. The kids are forming stronger friendships with each other during the program and Andrew ( Colter Camp counselor Extraordinaire) and I are forming better friendships with each of them. My best days are when the kids are so excited that they just learned something new or tried something new and were successful. They are so cute. I love their enthusiasm.
Q: When does the next Bike Program start and how do kids sign up?
A: That is to be determined based on what The Teton County Parks and Rec Center wants to offer this summer. I do know that the gym teacher at Colter Elementary is offering a bike class this Spring semester which I think is so cool. I wish I had that course in school as a kid. I do hope the Colter Bike Program will continue to be offered in the Fall/Spring at least.
A big thanks to the Colter Bike Program kids and Janet for coming in and talking about bikes with us!