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Reflections of a SOS Mentor

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
As some as you might know, this season, I am working as a mentor for Snowboard Outreach Society
This is the first season that they are offering skiing. I have three kids in my group:

A beautiful 10 year old girl
A wonderful 10 year old boy, who will one day be a fantastic skier
A 14 year old Mexican boy, courteous, chivalrous and speaks perfect, unaccented English after living here for two years.

Before entering what we call the University Program, the kids have to complete a 5-day Learn to Ski or Learn to Ride Program. As such, mentors are told that we are NOT supposed to do any teaching. However, we are supposed to devise a ski or ride day that encompasses the five core values:
Courage, Discipline, Integrity, Wisdom and Compassion.

That said, it's hard to resist the temptation to correct obvious faults, but the kids did not seem to be all that interested in any type of instruction. I did discover that if I just let them have fun, their skills began to improve.
However, it was an experience that made me wonder how kids' ski instructors survive a season and live to tell the tale.

Our day began on the Quicksilver Lift at Breck. My girl has a tendency to be somewhat effusive when she talks, and she ended up dropping a ski pole. I tried to be calm about reading her the riot act about the safety consequences of her actions. A few moments later, she drops the other pole.

Meanwhile, a lovely female snowboarder was sitting next to me on the lift. She was not with our program, but she was very friendly. When we got to the top of Quicksilver, she informed me with a smile that she was not used to getting off on "this side of the lift." Much to my dismay, I discovered that her self assessment was correct. She proceeded to knock me over, causing me to be humiliated in front of my young charges.

As we skied down the slope, my Mexican boy decided that we should look for my girl's ski poles. The problem: they had fallen off-piste into the bushes. yet he and my 10 year old boy decided to take of their skis and trudge through the deep snow, where they found both her poles.

For their next trick, they decided that they wanted to ski through the trees. I was certain that this was prohibited by SOS, but they assured me that the mentor they had on the first session, (I had missed one) let them do this. Since they were in a wedge, I was apprehensive, but the trails seemed to be well carved and basic, so I skied outside of the trees, which allowed me to watch all three of them. Much to my surprise, they intuitively adjusted their position to parallel, and were able to sense each other's position without crashing. Unfortunately, when we went down to lunch, I discovered that I was correct: They were not supposed to do trees.

Then we discovered that my 14 year old had lost his money in the process of looking for the girl's ski poles. When we went up the next time, the other two decided that they should trudge through the snow to find the money. After 10 minutes of trudging through the cold, deep snow, they realized that this was an exercise in futility. their shivering bodies told me that cocoa was in order, and they were more than open to the suggestion. They want cocoa with marshmallows AND whipped cream. I decided that the deeds of the day justified this request. However, I was feeling like the naive and idealistic teacher in some Touchstone movie, who suddenly wonders what in the world she got herself into!

Before going back out, I asked if they had to use the bathroom. Everyone, said "no." Lo and behold, in the middle of a run, the younger boy had an emergency. Off into the woods he went. Good thing it wasn't the girl!

At the end of the day, I took them on what Weems calls a gratification run. Much to our delight, we discovered that we were the only ones on Frontier. They started singing Jingle Bells. The song developed into a series of joyous whooping and hollering. The tears in my eyes told me that this was why I do this!
post #2 of 3
SOS is how i learned to snowboard. They are an amazing organization, and changed my life. I very much plan on volunteering with them in the future.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
We might need you soon! Give Theresa a call!
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