Begun in 2012 in part to support succession and recruitment for the Mount Washington Ski Patrol Association, the Vancouver Island Student Ski Patrol Program continues to carry on stronger than ever.
Junior patrol members joined the larger membership group as the MWSPA held its annual pre-season training/skills assessment weekend at Mount Washington on Nov 5-6.
School District 69 (Qualicum) outdoor educator Jake Friesen first proposed a Junior Patrol Program in 2011, and the following year the MWSPA Board endorsed the Vancouver Island Student Ski Patrol Program (VISSP), which is funded by the school district. Friesen has championed the program from its inception, said Paul Vroom, past MWSPA president and longtime ski patrol instructor.
This program enables students to earn credits toward North Island College’s Adventure Guiding Program. The maximum number of new juniors has been capped at ten students per year, and the program is now open to any eligible student in B.C. between ages 16-19 through an application process.
Pre-requisites include successful completion of a B.C. occupational-level first aid course and an annually renewed HCP-CPR ticket.
Students complete a full school curriculum in addition to more than 600 hours of VISSP program requirements and students may achieve 24-32 high school elective credits. Junior patrollers, in addition to completing more than 14 full patrol days at Mount Washington, add additional patrol days at Mt. Cain, Whistler/Blackcomb, Manning Park and Revelstoke.
When not on the slopes or attending regular classes, students also add Food Safe, Serving It Right, Level 1 Avalanche training and a snowmobile safety course to their expanding skill set. Junior patrollers must team up with a senior patroller for their first year and thereafter until they reach 19 years of age.
“It is not just a one year ‘gig’ for every student, however, as reinforced by the seven juniors who returned as second-year patrollers this year,” said Vroom. “One second-year junior, 17-year-old Erica Friesen, was elected to an MWSPA Board Director position.
“With the recruitment of youth and high level professional health care workers, such as RNs, NPs, medical doctors, SARTECHs, PCP&ACP licenced practitioners, the future of the highly credentialed volunteer organization is ensured,” said Vroom.
The MWSPA, incorporated in 1981 as a non-profit society, is currently funded by membership dues and supplemented by occasional donations. Individual members bear a cost of between $600-2,000 per season.
“One might ask what motivates these volunteers,” said Vroom. “The prevalent answer is ‘service’. Members believe that they can facilitate positive impacts on another person’s well-being.”
To learn more about the MWSPA please visit online at www.mwskipatrol.com.
— Submitted by MWSPA