Kids get behind-the-scenes tour at Vail Mountain |

Kids get behind-the-scenes tour at Vail Mountain

Karla Leal, 11, left, Tamara Villegas, 11, center, and Marlene Campos, 12, right, take a tour of the tunnel underneath the gondola during the Youth Foundation's shadow day with Vail Resorts Wednesday in Lionshead. The girls were one of several Youth Foundation groups that got to tour different Vail Resorts sites and learn about various jobs with the company.
Dominique Taylor | |

VAIL — A group of students received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Vail on Wednesday that many regular riders can only imagine.

Starting with a stroll through the tunnel beneath the building — which connects the Arrabelle loading docks to the main terminal — and finishing above the rafters looking down on the resort’s guests in line below, the students got a glimpse of what it takes to run Vail’s mighty mountain operation, which sees approximately 4 million pounds of food per year pass through its halls.

The job shadow day was a field trip component of the Youth Foundation’s Summer School programs, which focus on “STEAM” — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — both in and out of the classroom.

Peter Barclay, a program coordinator with the Youth Foundation, said the trip to see the inner workings of the Eagle Bahn satisfied many of those components perfectly.

“You really can’t beat this tour, from a technology and engineering standpoint,” he said. “Really fascinating.”

The group of students in Barclay’s company was small — only three kids — which Barclay described as ideal.

“We want 100 percent of our kids to be engaged,” he said. “In a big group, some kids are going to check out … It makes a big difference.”

And Barclay’s kids were indeed engaged.

Asking a variety of questions, including 11-year-old Karla Leal’s classic “What happens if I push the red button?” in the control booth, the seventh and eighth graders were captivated from start to finish by the tour, courtesy of Chris Mills with Vail Resorts.

“We’ll have them fill out a form to evaluate how effective a field trip like this is, but a lot of what we use to judge is anecdotal feedback from the teachers who are with the children,” said Barclay. “Something like this, where the kids are engaged and asking a lot of questions, is exactly what we’re looking for.”

Wednesday’s mountain operations job shadow day was one of several that Youth Foundation students will experience at Vail Resorts continuing all this week, with others involving marketing, PR, social media teams, specialty sports venture (retail/rental) and guest services.

Staff Writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and

Support Local Journalism