Each year as the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) staff compiles demographic reports for its Annual Report, one of the more interesting aspects that rises to the surface is that, as an organization, we attract participants not only from across the country, but from all over the world too. Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom and Venezuela are some of the more popular spots to name just a few. But what that report doesn’t mention, is that in addition to our demographically diverse participant base, we also have a large percentage of staff, interns and volunteers that hail from across the country and around the world. That includes BOEC’s new Ski Program Manager (but not new to the BOEC), Kyle Calbat, who comes to us all the way from “Space City,” Houston, Texas. And just like a large percentage of “BOEC-ers,” the 29-year old has found himself a home in Breckenridge and with the BOEC.
Kyle is all smiles with one of his adaptive participants
Kyle grew up and went to college in Texas but for now the Lone Star State is a distant memory. After graduating from Texas A&M University, he bounced around between Nebraska, Florida and Minnesota before landing in Breckenridge, and more specifically the BOEC.
“I came here for the BOEC!” exclaims Kyle. “I grew up volunteering at a sports camp for individuals with cognitive disabilities and wanted to get back into that world. Plus, I never lived anywhere that had a true winter. Sure, Minnesota, but I only experienced summer and fall there. I always wanted to spend some time in the mountains, so Breckenridge was a great choice. The BOEC provided an opportunity for me to chase both of those dreams.”
And chase those dreams he did! Kyle’s foray into the BOEC family started in 2016 with his acceptance into the Winter Internship Program within BOEC’s Adaptive Ski & Snowboard School. For a kid that grew up in Southeast Texas, a full immersion into a Breckenridge winter and daily life on the slopes was quite the leap of faith. While incredibly rewarding and educational, BOEC’s 6-month intensive winter internship program is full of hard outside work during the bitter cold winter months in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Truly not something for the faint of heart, but Kyle faced the challenge head on and is now entering his fifth year working for the BOEC.
“The last handful of winters, learning to ski has been a huge highlight,” Kyle recounts when thinking back to his start with the BOEC. “Growing up in Texas, I (of course) made a few ski trips to Colorado with my family when I was younger, but I never really learned to ski until I came to work for the BOEC.”
BOEC Ski Program Manager, Kyle Calbat, finds his happy place
And, amazingly enough, the nearly 300 inches of snow and 73 total snow days during that first season didn’t scare him off. Not only was he not fazed by it, he rejoined the ranks as an adaptive ski instructor the following year before deciding to stick around for the glory that we call summer in Colorado. Kyle quickly integrated himself over the next four years as a year-round member of the BOEC team as a course director, raft guide, ski program supervisor for a season, logistics coordinator for the summer Wilderness Program, and now as the 2020-2021 Ski Program Manager – something he sees as a wonderful opportunity to hone his skills on the ins and outs of running an adaptive ski program, especially one such as the 44-year-old BOEC.
“One of the many cool things about BOEC’s ski program is how widespread its reach is,” says Calbat. “Having staff, volunteers and students join us from all around the world makes for a great learning opportunity and a fun way to make connections with a diverse group of people. But, more importantly, I enjoy being part of one big (BOEC) family. Whether we have a student returning to ski with us for their 10th year or for their first year, the community and excitement around the office is contagious. I have loved the relationships that I have formed over the years with other staff, volunteers, students and their families.”
The BOEC certainly is unique in that respect. Relationships are continually being formed that seem to last way beyond anyone’s stay at the BOEC. Interns become adaptive ski instructors or course directors. Course directors and adaptive ski instructors become full-time staff members and so on and so on. The BOEC family is real, and Kyle is a large part of it. Especially now that this southern-boy-turned-Coloradan has gotten used to the pre-Halloween snowstorms and late May blizzards that seem to come on an annual basis. In fact, now, he even looks forward to it.
“Whether it’s a powder-filled training day, traveling to Arizona to work with the Northern Arizona Adaptive Sports Association (NAASA), or sliding on snow with people for their first time, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face once the snow starts falling,” says Kyle with a grin.
Kyle doing what he loves best at the BOEC
How often do you hear those words coming out of the mouth of a native Texan?! Not so often I bet. The snow can certainly be fun to play in, but when it comes to BOEC’s Adaptive Ski & Snowboard Program it just so happens to be more work than play. However, the work is incredibly rewarding which is why people like Kyle stick around. One of Kyle’s favorite BOEC memories to date happened on a ski lesson that he was leading a couple years ago at BOEC’s Keystone location, the Keystone Adaptive Center.
“The student and I took a little break on the side of the run to have a conversation amidst a beautiful and breathtaking view,” reminisces Kyle. “The student explained to me that their annual ski trip is the one time of year when they don’t feel like they have disability and can feel ‘normal.’ That’s when I fully realized that the BOEC isn’t just a place for people to have a fun adventure and make memories, it’s also a place that can have a positive impact on them long after they leave the resort.”
And as the newly-appointed Ski Program Manager, Kyle is doing his part on a daily basis to make sure that each and every student gets the most out of their time here with the BOEC. In fact, if he was to turn around and write a book one day about his experiences with our nonprofit he says the theme would revolve around the concept of “living your dream,” which according to Kyle, encompasses a few different facets.
The lighter side of Kyle
“On the surface, a lot of the activities that we do are very cool and could be considered once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for people,” he states matter of factly. “However, digging a little deeper, everyone who comes to the BOEC (no matter if they are a student, intern, volunteer or staff) gets to choose their own adventure. Each experience with the BOEC is extremely personal enabling them to live their own dream.”
He continues, “Of course, to be working for an adaptive outdoor program like the BOEC is my current dream, so it’s hard for me to think otherwise.”
Between Kyle living his dream and providing the chance for other people to live their dreams, the future of BOEC’s adaptive ski program looks bright.