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NSCD in Winter Park

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Has anybody on here volunteered for the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park? I came really close to volunteering there last year but had just moved to Colorado and didn't really have the time. I'm seriously thinking about volunteering there this year but wanted some feedback from somebody who had volunteered there before before I make the commitment. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 16
I have not done anything with the NSCD there. I can say from observation that it seems they have a very kick ass program there. I have met several sit chair skiers from Europe who came to Winterpark because of their program. I know that it is considered one of the best programs in the world. It's amazing what they do and kudos to you if you volunteer.
post #3 of 16
I volunteer locally, not at WP, but know from the adaptive ski world that WP has just about the best program anywhere. it was the mother of them all. I encourage you to do it. You will have fun. You will improve your skiing. You will meet some wonderful people. You will feel good about yourself and be totally humbled by your students. You will get free skiing! Go for it.
post #4 of 16
Dan

I also am not a volunteer for NSCD, but I do know people that participate as volunteers. I would check their website

http://www.nscd.org/

The volunteer coordinator is Beth Fox, NSCD's phone number is (303) 316-1540.

There are two programs of note in the front range if you decide not to volunteer at Winter Park.

Eldora's program is ESRP
http://www.esrp.com/
phone (303) 442-0606

Breckenridge's program is BOEC
http://www.boec.org/
phone (970) 453-6422

I believe that both ESRP and BOEC have less of a required commitment for instructors than NSCD; but, all programs that I am familiar with have required training for volunteer instructors.

Some benefits to expect (besides the satisfaction of helping someone with a disability experience a form of "freedom" that they don't experience in everyday life):
  • Most programs will give some type of compensatory lift tickets for a certain amount of lessons taught
  • Availability of "pro" discounts on equipment - usually determined by full or part-time and level of certification
  • Able to join PSIA, and take PSIA clinics and certifications
  • Ski improvement training usually offered gratis
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan5252 View Post
Has anybody on here volunteered for the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park? I came really close to volunteering there last year but had just moved to Colorado and didn't really have the time. I'm seriously thinking about volunteering there this year but wanted some feedback from somebody who had volunteered there before before I make the commitment. Thanks in advance.
I volunteered with NSCD for 12 years. I now live in Canada and have not been involved with NSCD for several years, other than occasional e-mail to/from Beth. The rules may have changed since I was last involved with it.

Many people find that the required commitment is considerable. Your first year, you must participate in at least 6 full-day clinics, and you must also teach for 10 full days. You will be in a regularly scheduled program, so you will have a student. No free days.

For many more-or-less "average" skiers, 16 days might be their whole season. I had a habit of being up at Winter Park 60 days or more per season (my last few years, I also taught in the regular adult ski school), but for many, a 16 day commitment may not leave much time for free skiing.

This commitment gets you a season pass to Winter Park. It is not, however, a "regular" season pass. In particular, it doesn't work at Copper Mountain like most WP season passes.

You don't do this for the pass. You do it for the people you work with. You do it because you want to contribute. If you just want a pass, go buy one. They're very cheap in Colorado.

Remember, also, that once you're committed, you have to go. You don't get to stay home if you or someone in your family doesn't feel like going skiing today.

Although NSCD works with many disabilities, and asks you your preferences, you can absolutely count on working with both children and adults with developmental disabilities. They always need people for this. Initially, the disabilities involved might be pretty minor. If you stick with it, and get to be pretty good, you will inevitably spend some time with some folks with severe developmental issues. If this turns you off, don't volunteer. Period.

As icanseeformiles said, another major benefit is training. The basic NSCD training will get you started. You'll probably discover that you don't really know how to do a wedge after all, even though you thought you did. If you're serious about improving, however, join PSIA and start working on certification. The regular ski school has an aggressive training program that involves clinics at 8:00 a.m. almost every day of the week. Once you've joined PSIA, speak to Jenn Metz or one of the other trainers and get yourself cleared to attend. Then sign up downstairs and be there ready to rock at 8:00. They don't stand around at the bottom waiting for latecomers. Your skiing will be disassembled and rebuilt. You will be critiqued, endlessly and sometimes brutally. Don't sign up for anything you can't attend.

Winter Park has some of the top people in the Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA. If you progress far enough, at some point you may attend a PSIA clinic being given at Steamboat or Loveland or Vail and you'll realize you're hearing stuff you first heard at Winter Park two years earlier.

If that doesn't sound like something you want to do, that's fine, too. NSCD has plenty of volunteers who are terminal intermediate skiers, and they need every one of them.

Like any organization, NSCD has its warts. Some personalities are more difficult than others, and organization in the midst of chaos is always a challenge. Take it in stride. Some days will go extremely well; others will be extremely difficult.

Your job is to provide a great experience for others, some of whom don't get very many great experiences. It can be a great experience for you, too.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input, in response to the last thread, I'm not interested in doing it for the pass, already have the CO pass. I just moved to Denver last year but have skiied most of my life and really learned at WP. I always thought the program was interesting and now that I live here, I feel that if I'm going to volunteer somewhere I might as well do it doing something I love. In addition skiing has definitely greatly affected my life for the better and I would love to be able to help other people experience similar things.

In particular what I'm interested in is the differences between the programs. What program did you work with and do you have any recommendations?
post #7 of 16
I teach in the Winter Park alpine program, primarily to children. That being true, I do know a some of the NSCD instructors, and I taught for 1 year with Adaptive Sports Association at Purgatory. As john cooley tells you, you absolutely will teach developmentally disabled children and adults, progressing as your teaching ability increases to people with progressively greater disabilities. In general, programs for the disabled in Colorado teach people with a variety of developmental, behavioral, visual and physical disabilities.

I would suggest checking the web sites that I gave you above, and email and phone the contacts on those sites, they can tell you much more than any of us here.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan5252 View Post
I'm not interested in doing it for the pass, already have the CO pass.
Be sure whatever program you teach, let them know you do not need a pass, as that will save the program some money or alloted passes, as programs usually have only a certain of passes available.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Actually my pass isn't for WP it's the one for the Vail Resort areas. I didn't buy the WP park one because I was thinking about volunteering and I knew you got a pass there.
post #10 of 16
You can also go to the PSIA website and order their manual on adaptive ski teaching. it will give you a very good idea of what is involved and what to expect and what you will have to learn about the various disabilities like meds and other not so obvious issues. As stated above, if you have an image of yourself teaching an ex-jock in a mono-ski, it's not likely. More likely you will be with a kid with Downs Syndrom or Autism or an adult with CP or the like. Think about that before you volunteer. If you're still game, God Bless You and thank you!
post #11 of 16
actually, NSCD does teach a lot of ex-jocks in sit skis, just don't expect to be teaching them yur first year. But, it does take more than one instructor (normally) on a sit ski lesson, so volunteer to shadow (follow) if you have free time.

That advice really goes for any type of teaching, think of it as ojt
post #12 of 16

Programs

Most of the programs to which volunteers are assigned are associated with particular groups that come up every week or every other week. These groups may come from particular schools, group homes, etc. Some, such as the Sunday Blind Bus, may simply cater to a particular disability, and participants can sign up in Denver.

There is a basic division between stand-up and sit-down programs. Most of the stand-up programs run every week for the designated time period, with one or two weekends off, so that the program runs for a total of 12 weeks during the season. Many (but not all) of the sit-down programs run every other week, if I remember correctly.

You will generally be assigned to a program on the day of the week you want to work. Most of the programs support developmental disabilities, so that's what you'll get, most likely. You will have the same student for most or all of the ten days that you work. This can be a wonderful thing.

For my first season (just as an example), I was assigned to a boy with ADHD. It didn't take long to figure out that, while he may have had trouble paying attention in the classroom, he didn't have any trouble at all paying attention to what we were doing on skis. When we started, he had never been on skis. By the end of the program, we had skied all over Sunnyside (including the trees) and many other places. He had a solid open-stance parallel, and he was having a lot of fun.

It was an excellent experience, but not everybody is as lucky as I was. The first season can be tough.

When you're first starting out, you will not be assigned to the Blind Bus. There are always veterans standing in line for Blind Bus assignments, and many of them have PSIA certification, in addition to seniority. People who have been working with the Blind Bus have often been working with the same "student" for years. A few of the blind or visually impaired skiers even ski bumps.

After you acquire some experience and certification, you may be invited to volunteer for the private lesson program. In private lessons, you are no longer working with the same student every week. You are, in theory, skilled enough to take pot-luck. You show up on your work days and receive your assignment. You may get someone with a severe developmental disability one day, a totally blind never-ever the following week, and an accomplished three-tracker the week after that. Private lesson volunteers must be certified.

Multiple disabilities are common. Many of the participants in the sit-down programs are also developmentally disabled. Be ready for a challenge, no matter what program you're in.

Always remember that you are there for your student. You are not there to do what you might want to do, or ski where you might want to ski. You are dedicated to your student, and if that means you spend all day, every day, of your season's work assignment walking around the bottom of Sorenson Park while your student slides around on skis, well, that's what you do. (Actually, if you're not making any progress, a paid staff member will come to see what's going on.)

And those ex-jocks on monoskis? They learn what they're doing (sometimes very quickly) and get a permit to go skiing without an instructor. Some of 'em will whip your butt in the bumps.
post #13 of 16
i constantly marvel at the "work" of the nscd.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody for your input. After speaking to a NSCD rep at Sniagrab I am going to volunteer for the sit-ski program there. He thought a "big" guy like me with advanced ski skills would be a good fit in that program. I'm looking forward to it. For you WP instructors (rusty guy, icansee...) if our paths cross I would love to ski a couple runs with you to learn a little about your teaching philosophies and just to ski some good runs with good people.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan5252 View Post
Thanks everybody for your input. After speaking to a NSCD rep at Sniagrab I am going to volunteer for the sit-ski program there. He thought a "big" guy like me with advanced ski skills would be a good fit in that program. I'm looking forward to it. For you WP instructors (rusty guy, icansee...) if our paths cross I would love to ski a couple runs with you to learn a little about your teaching philosophies and just to ski some good runs with good people.
what you are doing is a good thing! i know a couple of folks who have worked in the program for a long time and i'll be glad to make an introduction. come by the ss locker room and ask for me or stop at adult line-up and say hello.

i'll look forward to meeting you and making a few turns.
post #16 of 16

whtmt

Though I have never been involved with WP, over the years of my tenure with the White Mountain Adaptive Snowsports School at Loon in New Hampshire, I have come to know Hal O'Leary the founder of NSCD. I have always marveled at his undying commitment and genuine desire to help disabled athletes participate in snow sports. He, his staff, and the volunteers that work at NSCD are the best in the nation bar none.

Those of us in Adaptive snow sports have all learned many lessons from Hal and those at NSCD. If you can hang in there and complete at least this first season you will be hooked. The first time your Jonny, Joey, or Mellisa makes there first turns on their own, even on the flatest green terrain, it will make you cheer and bring a tear to your eye. The rewards you will get back from your participants will out weigh all of the effort you put in.

There is no way for me to describe the feelings I got when the father of my 14 year old student, (his son) slid 50 yards on skis standing tall while I and two other big coaches helped me keep him upright for a 1 hour intro to skiing. This young boy's father, a Russian longshoreman, gave me a big Bear Hug and then started to weep on my shoulder he was so happy. As it turned out his son had CP and was typically a couch potato type youngster. This outing brought the family to a new place in their lives for recreation. Many times we experience a life changing event with our students.

In particular if you volunteer in the sit down skiing groups, either with the mono or bi-ski participants, once they begin to become independent you will see them blossom into smiles, laugh, and have a passion for snow sports like you never have seen before. You will also see some mono and bi-skiers at NSCD that will, simply put --- Blow Your Mind, with their extreme abilities. They are truly amazing athletes and they will smoke you in most any terrain. So, have at it and give it your all. I hope that next year this time I can hear back from you that you had a wonderful time and met an awsome group of people. I want to say to you then, Welcome to the Club. At Loon we call this "Paying it Forward". Best of luck.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
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