With a Volunteer Program that is over 400 members strong, if one starts sorting through the names and personalities, you are apt to find some pretty unique and interesting stories amongst the group. One such Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) volunteer is Trevor Jackson, whose story is as unique as the man himself.

Originally from Manchester, United Kingdom (UK), the 53-year-old Jackson graduated college with a Mechanical Engineering degree before heading to work for Rolls Royce in the UK as a product support engineer looking after the Harrier Jump jet engines for the Indian Navy. While this might be a dream job for most mechanical engineers, it simply wasn’t for Trevor. One day, while flipping through Flight International magazine, he saw an advertisement for air traffic controller trainees and headed to Hamburg, Germany for an initial interview. Trevor thought to himself, “What’s the worst that can happen? At least I could get a trip to Hamburg!” After two trips for testing and interviews, the job was secured with Eurocontrol at the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre in Maastricht, Netherlands.

Trevor Jackson with Team Semper Fi in 2019

Trevor Jackson with Team Semper Fi

Trevor Jackson hard at work at Eurocontrol.

Trevor Jackson hard at work at Eurocontrol.

With that move, a new career was born. While the Centre’s main duties are to look after aircraft above 25,000 feet over Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Northwest Germany, Trevor’s area of responsibility is the latter, from Berlin in the east to the Netherlands in the West and Frankfurt in the south to Hamburg in the north. He separates airplanes (5 miles apart or 1,000 feet vertically), climbs departing planes to their cruising levels and descends and starts the initial sequencing of arriving aircraft whilst separating them from overflying planes. Quite the responsibility, don’t you think?! In fact, depending on the size of the sector he is working, the Air Traffic Controller and Competency Assessor, as his official title states, can be talking to up to 22 aircraft at a time all the while monitoring the competency of his colleagues to make sure they are all performing to the required and expected levels. They work a sector of airspace in pairs with one talking to the planes and the other organizing how planes enter and leave the sector in coordination with the neighboring units.

“We really have to work well as a team (which I enjoy),” states the British citizen. “What I like most about my job is that it can be fast moving and is essentially constantly solving puzzles and fitting the planes into place at the right heights at the right times. And when it’s time for someone to take over for you, you can unplug your headset, leave and you don’t have any work to take home with you which I definitely enjoy.”

While he leaves his important and stressful job in the rear mirror when he leaves Eurocontrol for the day, the demands of the day-to-day occupation can be especially taxing. So, in 2008, as a way to de-stress and to get away from the “terrible Dutch winters,” Trevor started to compile his vacation days so he could have an extended winter break each year. For the first two years he spent his breaks in Canada completing snowboard instructor courses and earning his Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors (CASI) Level 2 certificate. And a new passion was ignited just like that!

Trevor and Deke having a little fun

Trevor Jackson and Deke having a little fun.

Trevor shows off his powder stache

Trevor shows off his powder stache.

Trevor’s fellow Brit, friend and housemate Derek (Deke) Wilson started volunteering with the BOEC in 2009 and mentioned to him that it was a rewarding and fun experience that might help him put his newfound skills to the test. In January, 2010 Trevor joined the BOEC Volunteer Program and has been spending his “winter breaks” in Breckenridge for 12 years now.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I thought ‘What’s the worst that can happen,’” he remembers. “Since then I’ve been volunteering 2-3 days a week during my time with the BOEC, adding up to about 20 days per season.”

What initially was trips to North America simply because he prefers the skiing terrain here, had now turned into a sort of second career where, according to Jackson, volunteering with the BOEC has become such an integral part of his winter that he doesn’t think he would enjoy his free-riding days and his time in the mountains without it. Obviously something that brings him extreme gratification.

“I absolutely love being in the mountains and sliding down them in whichever way,” Trevor says. “Volunteering with the BOEC allows me to share this passion with other people and help them experience the same joy.”

And this is really what the BOEC is all about at its core. Providing a sense of freedom to those who are routinely excluded from life-changing outdoor experiences is the name of the game and Trevor Jackson is an integral part of this coming to life.

“Trevor has been a valuable part of the BOEC ski program for many years,” says BOEC Ski Program Director Jeff Inouye. “He has assisted or taught many snowboard lessons for us and is always available to volunteer anytime we call. We couldn’t do what we do without the dedication of volunteers like Trevor. ”

“It means different things to people with different disabilities,” states Jackson. “But, the essence is really about getting outdoors, enjoying the mountains and getting down them in whatever way possible and experiencing that fun. The fact that BOEC can help pretty much anyone get on the snow has opened my eyes to what is truly possible.”

Trevor Jackson with a ski group at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Trevor with a ski group at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Trevor shows off his powder stache

Trevor and his girlfriend Ade.

Volunteering for the past 12 years has made its mark on Trevor. He didn’t know exactly what he was getting into at first, but now he is a seasoned vet with a ton of experiences that have changed who he is as a person.

“It’s (volunteering with the BOEC) made me a more patient person,” he says. “It’s also made me more empathetic when trying to understand the different needs and restrictions of the participants.”

When asked about the hypothetical title of his book about his time with the BOEC, Trevor responds with “Tales of the Unexpected.” This is extremely fitting as he knew not what to expect when he first started volunteering and he still doesn’t know what to expect from lesson to lesson, participant to participant. It’s that uncertainty that certainly makes things interesting, but it might just be the memories that keep him coming back year after year. He points to a mono-ski lesson with a 12-year-old girl on a powder day where, at one point, the powder was so deep he could only see her helmet above the snow. He points to an at-risk youth that, before he was exposed to the BOEC, “didn’t even know nice people even existed.” After two or three years of participating with the Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program, the young man had covered up his gang tattoos and was ready to take a different path in life.

It’s experiences and memories like these that make the BOEC Adaptive Ski & Snowboard Program unique. It’s the individual participants and their varied successes that make it special. And it’s the staff, interns, instructors and volunteers such as Trevor Jackson and his 5,000 mile journey to Breckenridge every winter that make BOEC unique.

“It’s all about having fun and making the most of each day on the mountain,” Trevor says. “Everyone involved in this process has that same goal. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.”

To learn more about BOEC’s Volunteer Program – or to get involved – click here or email [email protected].