Winter Jackets Team

Last winter our high mountain region was a winter wonderland from the sparkling trees to the white-capped Rocky Mountains. However, it wasn’t just beautiful, it also offered unforgettable experiences to many people through BOEC’s Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program. With the help of numerous instructors, volunteers, and interns, 976 individuals had the opportunity to ski and snowboard down the slopes. Over the 2,920 lessons that were taught, we watched participants of all abilities glide across the snowy slopes, breathing in the fresh mountain air and feeling the fluffy snow beneath their skis.

BOEC Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program Director, Jeff Inouye, says,

“The ski program had an incredible 2022-23 winter season. Thanks to all the staff, instructors, interns and volunteers that all contributed to creating life-changing experiences for our participants and their families. This winter we had 14 fantastic interns that worked extremely hard and continue to be a huge asset to the BOEC and the ski program. We ended the season with our Volunteer Appreciation Party to celebrate the success of the ski program and most importantly to recognize and thank all the incredible volunteers and staff that dedicate so much to our organization.”

To celebrate all of the individuals who made this experience possible for so many people from diverse backgrounds and of all abilities, BOEC awarded two Volunteer of the Year awards, a Rookie of the Year award, and two Instructor of the Year awards at the annual end-of-year volunteer and staff celebration barbeque. Considering the excellence of the many volunteers, instructors, and interns who spent numerous hours with the BOEC Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program, deciding who to select as the most outstanding amongst so many dedicated people was very difficult. Those recognized this year encapsulate the reason the BOEC family is so proud of what we do through their favorite memories of the season!

Anne Daly volunteering with the Brain Injury Alliance at BOEC’s Scott Griffith Lodge

Anne Daly, BOEC Volunteer of the Year

“It’s hard to pinpoint one specific favorite memory because every day that I volunteer is a totally unique experience. It’s always a joy to meet new participants and volunteer on the mountain with the BOEC instructors and interns. Coming together and working as a team to support the goals of a skier is the most amazing experience for me as a volunteer. What I love most, is when a skier progresses on their skills through the day and meets (or exceeds!) their goals. I’m always so thrilled for them when they challenge themselves and achieve more than they thought they could. Whether I’m taking a more involved role with supporting the instructor or just offering encouragement, it’s my goal to contribute in the best possible way that I can. I love that I have the opportunity to be a small part of a participant’s adventure! I’m so grateful to BOEC, the participants, and their families! I’ve met so many wonderful people through BOEC from all over and it’s been so enriching in my life. BOEC not only makes a difference in a participant’s life but has also made a big difference in mine. It’s been nice helping others. It’s brought me so much happiness and I just want to pay it forward.

“Mostly, my experience has been fun! The great camaraderie, the BOEC community, the support, and the welcoming atmosphere are what brought me to volunteer. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this organization. The entire staff is amazing, the instructors and interns are incredible and many fellow volunteers have become my friends. It’s such an honor to receive this volunteer of the year award! Thank you BOEC!”

Brad Baltz volunteering with Wheelchairs 4 Kids

Brad Baltz, BOEC Volunteer of the Year

My favorite BOEC memory of the season is the day myself and another instructor went out and taught a father/daughter to mono-ski together. Mono-skiing is something she wanted to do, and dad (although a very good stand-up skier) wanted to learn alongside her so he could experience what she was experiencing. They were both “never-evers” on any sort of sit-ski, but with a goal of independently skiing together in the future. They were very competitive with each other, so it was fun to watch their progression leap-frog and move as quickly as it did. By the end of the day, both dad and daughter were independently shredding blue runs alongside each other. Smiling, laughing and talking about the next time they’d ski together. Such a magical day.

The second day was going out with The Not Forgotten (NFA) group. They forge such strong relationships, both prior and during the week they are here, so it’s fun to see them enjoy the mountain together. They push each other both on the mountain and personally – it’s awesome to witness and to be a part of those relationships throughout the week. This day in particular, my participant wanted to ski with another NFA buddy. Again, they push each other so much in every way. So what started off as a day “to hit a couple blue runs on Peak 9”, ended up turning into hitting every peak, 6-10, as well as doing the hike up Imperial… do cartwheels…. such a great day.

John Lucey, Rookie of the Year, at the BOEC end of season party

John Lucey, Rookie of the Year

“One of my favorite and most memorable experiences this past ski season with the BOEC was skiing on day one with the Wheelchairs 4 Kids group from Florida. It was a beautiful day in April. Seeing approximately 10 bi-ski groups all skiing over to meet the waiting students and parents at the Beaver Run Resort was impressive.

Holland, an excellent adaptive instructor, and I were skiing with Jade. She was a great kid – positive, upbeat and more than ready for the challenge. She was adopted from China approximately four years earlier. She and her parents could not have been more pleasant or grateful.

It was Jade’s first experience skiing and playing with snow. We had a blast skiing, making and throwing snowballs. Then on our last couple of runs we would stop near the bottom of ballet hill, she would hand me her outriggers and I would hand her a snowball which she would throw at her cheering parents as we skied past. On the second snowball run her parents were waiting with snowballs of their own!

I felt truly humbled to play a small role in helping these children have a new and exciting experience.”

Tyler Eaton teaching a ski lesson to this young skier with Wheelchairs 4 Kids

Tyler Eaton, Instructor of the Year

My favorite memory this year was with a young beginner mono-skier from back in Minnesota. He played sled hockey before, and his dad actually knew mine from the same team. For me this lesson was very special because my brother is a mono-skier, and I wasn’t old enough to teach him when I first started teaching adaptive skiing. This beginning mono-skier’s goal was to eventually be able to mono-ski independently with family, and he just reminded me so much of my own situation and why I do this job. It was like I was able to go back in time and teach my brother which was very special for me.” 

JR O’Neil and participant at Ski Spectacular

JackRyan (JR) O’Neil, Instructor of the Year

A favorite moment for me was teaching a student from Mono Camp (Chris Briggs) how to ski bumps. He was very nervous and hesitant to try it but once he realized he could get through them safely, he wanted to keep skiing the bumps!” 

Thanks to each and every person who made the BOEC 2022-23 winter season a success! Whether a participant or part of the BOEC, we each take these special memories with us and although the impact of a day out on the mountain is not always immediately evident, the positive effects can be long-lasting. Participant Andee Skinner shares, “Having the opportunity to bi-ski with the BOEC was life-changing for me. It opened my world to what I could do as a person with a disability rather than staying closed in to what I couldn’t do. Thank you all for all you do!”

Congratulations to the winter intern class of 2022-23!!

The BOEC winter intern class of 2022-23 was a group of 12 enthusiastic young professionals eager to learn about working with people with disabilities and special needs. Over the course of a rigorous 6-month program, these young professionals gained valuable experience in the adaptive ski and snowboard program, which BOEC is well known for. The program gave them all a chance to work with a diverse range of individuals, helping them to understand the unique challenges and opportunities that come with working with people from all backgrounds.

Throughout their time at BOEC, the interns received extensive training and guidance from experienced professionals, enabling them to gain new skills and expand their knowledge in the field of outdoor education. From learning about adaptive equipment and techniques to developing their interpersonal communication skills, the interns gained a wealth of valuable experience.

As the winter season draws to a close, the intern class of 2022-23 can reflect on their hard work and dedication, knowing that they have made a meaningful impact on the lives of the individuals they worked with. They have gained invaluable experience and a new perspective on the world, and will undoubtedly go on to make a positive impact in their future careers, using the skills and knowledge they have gained through BOEC’s programs. 

BOEC 2022-23 winter intern class with awards in hand

Celebrated by BOEC friends and colleagues, the 2022-23 intern class graduated from the BOEC winter intern program in an intimate ceremony at the BOEC’s Scott Griffith Lodge. There was a mix of excitement and a bit of heartfelt emotion as this tight-knit group celebrated the completion of their winter program together. Traditional “paper plate” awards commemorating the unique strengths of each intern were presented by Internship Program Manager, Kat Booth, bringing laughs and applause. This year, Kat, manager of the internship program and alumni of the BOEC internship program, is moving on to new adventures as well. She was awarded her own “paper plate” award and a gigantic graduation hat to recognize her dedication and hardwork over the past eight years.

Kat is awarded her own “paper plate” award and was recognized with her final class of interns

This winter’s graduates are moving on to new adventures such as physician’s assistant school, medical school, to Yale for a Master’s degree in public health, to Glacier National Park, and a couple of interns are even returning to the BOEC to take part in the summer internship!  This group of wonderful individuals will continue to grow and expand their knowledge in diverse fields of interest and we are proud to have been a small part of their journey. 

Kind words, fun memories and meaningful hugs were evidence of the friendships that formed

We wish all of these talented, caring interns the best in their future endeavors! 

You can read about one of the BOEC Winter Interns, Jack Finn-Kelcey and his interesting life story so far, in a related article from last month here.

BOEC may be wrapping up one winter season, but it’s not too early to start thinking about next winter! Internships applications for the winter 2023-24 season are open now until September 30th. This is a great opportunity to play an integral role in empowering people of all abilities through outdoor experiences while learning skills needed to be an effective ski instructor in an educational setting.