Choosing a boarding school for your child can be a difficult decision at the best of times. From the right level of support and pastoral care, to the facilities on offer and the curriculum followed, each and every factor plays a key role in parents’ decisions. But what if your child is an avid snowboarder or budding paraglider? Fear not, increasing numbers of world-class boarding schools are offering extreme sports and winter sports as part of their curriculums.

In fact, choosing a school which specializes in extreme sports and dedicates time and energy to training alongside studies could increase students’ chances of landing a sports scholarship to a top U.S. university. Learning alongside their class mates, gaining a better understanding of health and safety and also improving their physical fitness are just some of the benefits of choosing a boarding school dedicated to sports that challenge and stimulate students.

“I do see myself coming pro one day,” says Glen Purdy, a talented 16-year-old BMX rider who combines his passion for his sport with a top-level boarding education. For Glen, moving across the country to attend a boarding school dedicated to his passion for BMX has been the right decision. “(It’s) Not just (about) riding and academics,” he says, “but you learn a lot about life.”

More and more boarding schools are responding to the growing popularity of less traditional sports, allowing students to follow their passions in a safe and controlled environment while receiving a quality education. Here are some of the exciting pursuits commonly found in U.S. boarding schools today.

Winter sports

A change in the weather need not put a halt to a boarding school’s athletics calendar. In fact, winter sports are also an excellent opportunity for students to develop and understand the role played by discipline and respect, providing an excellent model for good citizenship skills. From snowboarding to ice hockey, indoor track to nordic and alpine skiing, increasing numbers of boarding schools are offering students the chance to try out exciting winter pursuits. Students have the choice to choose and pursue their sport of interest, opening doors to potential future scholarships.

Top boarding schools choose the very best coaches for their winter sports teams, such as the Lyndon Institute, where former U.S. Women’s slalom and giant slalom coach John Kresser heads the Alpine Ski Team.

“Student-athletes benefit in many ways from being a part of the program,” says John. “It all begins with the upkeep and organization of the equipment involved with the sport.  There are many components to remember and maintain on a daily basis. This is a large part of an athlete’s potential success.”

He adds: “Alpine skiing is a unique sport in that you actually compete against teammates. We strongly emphasize the team concept while each athlete strives to bring out their best skiing. Our training emphasizes personal growth rather than comparisons. The mountains are a great place to grow, develop and learn to appreciate the outdoors.”


Strength, endurance and flexibility are just some of the benefits of skateboarding. From Nike to Oakley and Transworld Magazine, increasing numbers of sponsors and companies are looking to boarding schools to source the next generation of talent in the skateboard world. Spending time in the skatepark alongside hours in the gym ensures that students can train and develop their tricks and skills. 

Kite surfing

Combining a love of the ocean with the excitement of riding the waves – all while flying a kite – kite surfing is an increasingly popular sport around the globe. Students will learn how to better their coordination skills, cope in extreme weather conditions and what to do if they encounter a problem while out at sea. From the Atlantic to the Caribbean coast or even the balmy Pacific, wherever there is wind and waves, then kite surfing is a go ahead.


Stunning scenery, fresh air and the thrill of being hundreds of meters above the countryside, parachuting is a rather unusual extreme sport on offer to boarding school students, yet it is a widely available pursuit in U.S. boarding schools. All schools follow the highest safety standards use only qualified instructors, meaning that your child will be having fun while in safe hands.

Rock climbing

With the Rockies mountain range, Yellowstone National Park and even the Appalachians, there are hundreds of locations across the U.S. and Canada which are perfect for bouldering and rock climbing. Students will learn how to balance, use their body weight effectively while climbing and even improve their physical fitness in the process. For many adventurous students with a head for heights rock climbing will become a life-long passion.


This article was sponsored by the Lyndon Institute, which offers students a wide range of exciting extra-curricular activities in the heart of Vermont, U.S. This enviable location allows the school to offer excellent skiing and other winter sports opportunities within easy reach of school grounds. Lyndon is one of only six American boarding schools to offer interscholastic Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing, and Ice Hockey teams, according to The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS).

Lyndon’s past pupils include former Nordic Skiing Olympian Andrew Johnson while the school has secured no fewer than 27 state championships in skiing, as well as success in grand slalom, snowboarding and ice hockey.

Since 1867, Lyndon’s 130-acre campus has been home to grades 9-12 offering students a high-caliber curriculum in a warm, homely campus setting. At Lyndon, students can benefit from the extensive number of sports and activities on offer, complementing the school’s challenging and rewarding curriculum program. Students are respected and treated as individuals, encouraged to grow and develop their unique talents and interests. Nearby Burke Mountain and Kingdom Trails offer students the chance to ski and mountain bike within 10 minutes of the school grounds. Lyndon’s inclusive environment is the ideal preparation for students’ choice of university or career.

Images via Lyndon Institute, Shutterstock and Flickr