MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Students across Maine are trading in their books for skis, for a little while. It is all part of a plan to get kids off their electronics and into appreciating the great outdoors at the New England Outdoor Center.
The best part is that it is completely free for students! So, kids from fifth through eighth grade at the Indian Island School are hitting the trails today.
“We get to skip school but I actually like skiing, it's fun,’ said eighth grader, Quentin Oliver.
Three times a year he and his classmates get the opportunity to participate in the Maine Outdoor Education Program, an incentive for students to detach themselves from social media and spend time outside.
It is called the Maine Outdoor Education Program, an incentive for students to detach themselves from social media and spend time outside.
“I wish this program was around when I was a kid. It's amazing, it really is,” said Joshua Stahl, one of the ten coaches at the facility.
He said helping these kids is always the highlight of his day.
“It's amazing to see some of the progress these kids have made. It's heartwarming to see what they're able to do out here,” he said.
He said many of the students come from homes that might not be able to afford skis or snow shoes, this program gives them that opportunity while also teaching them some valuable lessons.
“Nowadays we got to get healthy, we have to get healthy, we have to get fit! Instead of just sitting behind the TV,” said Oliver.
Although there might be a few bumps along the road for Quentin and his friends, he reminds people that hard work does pays off.
“Once you fall you just got to get back up and keep on going,” he said.
The outdoor program is expanding to another location in Grindstone which will also be available to the public by winter of 2018.