Fifth-graders who love to ski or snowboard or want to learn can take advantage of free rentals, lessons and lift tickets at Ski Anthony Lakes this month as part of the 5th Grade Passport Program.

This opportunity is offered every Sunday in March from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This program, which is in its third year at Ski Anthony Lakes, focuses on health, physical activity, and the environment by combining the ski slopes with the classroom.

And here's another plus: a free lift ticket is also provided for one parent or guardian who accompanies a fifth-grader.

There's no need to sign up in advance, though all fifth-grade teachers in Baker City and La Grande schools have the information. Also, the ski/snowboard shops in Baker City, La Grande and Pendleton have information about the program. A parent's signature is required.

To participate, interested fifth-graders must be at the lodge by 9 a.m. to register, visit the rental shop and then head out to the bunny hill.

Amy Barnes said the education part of the program winter safety and the skier's responsibility code are taught outside prior to the lessons. If the weather is nasty, the program starts inside the lodge, she said.

Lessons start at 10:30 a.m., and professional instructors will help youngsters learn the ropes of winter sports.

andquot;Most people, by the time we're done with the first lesson, we'll have them on the handletow, making turns both ways and being able to stop,andquot; said Gary Prout, director of the Learning Center at Ski Anthony Lakes.

Lessons last from one hour to an hour and a half.

The instructors especially welcome those with no prior skiing or snowboarding experience.

andquot;We like to take them right from the start,andquot; Prout said.

And most youngsters will get to take a ride up the triple chair lift after their first day of lessons.

andquot;That's quite a challenge, to take a little guy from not skiing to the top of the mountain,andquot; Prout said.

And the goal is to keep the kids coming back year after year to stay active during the winter months.

andquot;It's a healthy activity,andquot; Prout said.

And peaceful.

andquot;There's no cell phone service, no computers,andquot; he said.

Dress for the weather

To be prepared for the weather conditions, Prout suggests youngsters wear or bring: waterproof pants and jacket, goggles or sunglasses, gloves or mittens, long underwear, neck protection that can be pulled over the face, sunscreen, dry clothes for going home and a lunch or lunch money.

Transportation and meals are not provided with the program.

For more information, please contact Amy Barnes at 541/856-3277, Ext.16.