Teens in Ashland, Ore., can bundle up work and fun in one program. Mt. Ashland Ski Area runs a unique apprenticeship program that has a side benefit of introducing kids to skiing and snowboarding.

The 7,500 Foot Crew Internship Program, named for the summit elevation of Mt. Ashland, brings in teens ages 14-18 to work and ski or snowboard at the resort. A maximum of 12 students can participate each Saturday and Sunday.

"The first year, the staff had concerns about babysitting," Ada Rivera, who organizes the program, told us. "But it has been such an opposite experience. The kids are very eager to work and take instruction, and they provide such a bubbly addition for guests."

The crew, which is trained and paid as employees of the resort, rotates jobs. They help with ticket checking, rentals, terrain park maintenance, retail, parking lots, food service, ski school, and lodge maintenance. "We try to send them out in groups of two," explained Rivera. "The kids feel really special to be chosen to see the behind the scenes. A lot turn around and apply for work with us, and there is a future for them at the ski area."

The students work alongside mountain employees four hours in the morning one day per weekend for six of eight weeks. They get employee benefits, which includes free lifts plus free lessons, rentals, and shuttle transportation on work days. "A significant amount of kids are not skiers or snowboarders when they start the program," Rivera added.

Participants in the 7,500 Foot Crew walk away with job skills, experience in the work place, and a packet with tips on honing their job skills plus two letters of reference. But they often accrue much more, according to Rivera. The experience gives them a boost into process of finding jobs and gaining the self-esteem to go after employment.

The deadline for applications for the 7,500 Foot Crew is Dec. 20. Application information is available online.

More information. Or call 541-482-2897.