Outdoors Blog

Explorer of the Month: Big Brothers match used skiing, boarding at Bogus to connect

Bruce Wetten, left, and Michael Arment used skiing and snowboarding as a way to connect during their time together in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Bruce Wetten, left, and Michael Arment used skiing and snowboarding as a way to connect during their time together in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Idaho Statesman file photo

Bruce Wetten and Michael Arment spent 12 years together in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho program. Once a week every winter, they’d go to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area to ski and snowboard — part of an arrangement that brings dozens of kids to the mountain each year.

“It made the school week go by faster because I had something to look forward to, going up to Bogus, being able to spend time with Bruce,” said Arment, who is now 21 but was matched to Wetten at age 6.

Wetten joined the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and recently took on a new “little,” a 12-year-old. They’re going to try skiing/snowboarding together, too.

“Bogus is so good to that program,” Wetten said. “It still astounds me. They could do splashier things with their money, and they’re a non-profit, but they do impactful things.”

From 2008-09 to 2014-15, Bogus provided 40 season passes per year to littles, plus $2,000 per year in rental scholarships. The program changed to an emphasis on daily tickets in 2015-16 to reach more kids. Littles received 200 day tickets that winter and will receive 150 winter day tickets and 50 summer tickets this season. The $2,000-per-year rental scholarship remains.

The total value of the Bogus Basin contribution over the past two seasons is $22,150.

“Supporting this program exemplifies our mission of providing affordable and accessible year-round recreation,” said Susan Saad, the director of community and customer relations at Bogus Basin.

Wetten and Arment skied together for two years, then Arment began snowboarding. Bogus Basin provided passes, rentals and lessons for Arment.

Before long, they weren’t on the hill together anymore. They rode the lift together — and met at the bottom.

“I tried to chase him for a few years and then finally said, ‘I’m sticking to the groomers,’ ” Wetten said. “... His self-esteem grew every run. You could almost see it inside of a day, his confidence grow with his ability to do things on a snowboard that I didn’t think were possible, nor would I try.”

Arment’s older brother also was in the Big Brothers program and also went to Bogus with his “big.” The foursome would ride together at times.

“Those two boys with a single mom, skiing might not have been on the list of things they could afford to do,” Wetten said. “Instead, it became a cornerstone of their lives.”

Arment still snowboards, but not as often. He’s working and saving money for school.

He was hooked on skiing from the first trip to Bogus with Wetten. Snowboarding was an even better fit.

“The adrenaline, going fast, hitting jumps — just being free up there,” Arment said. “It was really nice.”

Explorer of the Month highlights people doing unique, notable or inspiring activities outdoors. Please send ideas to ccripe@idahostatesman.com.