Sean Houston, Assistant Ski Program Director, on a Brain Injury Alliance Ruby Horsethief trip.

Sean Houston, Assistant Ski Program Director, on a Brain Injury Alliance Ruby Horsethief trip.

Oftentimes our first skiing experience is memorable and for Sean Houston, Assistant Ski Program Director for BOEC’s Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program, he describes his first time on Nordic skis as “feeling like a baby giraffe”. With the encouragement of a friend in middle school, Sean kept at it though and even excelled, joining his local school ski team and racing throughout high school with a preference for skate skiing. He was briefly exposed to alpine skiing as well in his younger years at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Massachusetts, near his hometown of Williamstown.  Today, Sean has fully embraced alpine skiing, spending much of his winters in snowy Colorado working with BOEC’s Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program where he has spent years helping others discover the magic of outdoor winter sports in the Rocky Mountains. 

Seven years ago, Sean pivoted from earning a history degree at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York to a summer position guiding outdoor programs, where he became interested in pursuing a career in outdoor education. He had heard about the BOEC winter internship program and subsequently moved to Breckenridge, Colorado to continue expanding his knowledge and experience in the field. Although he had limited alpine experience, Sean was not daunted by learning this new skill and the hands-on learning approach of BOEC’s internship program set him up for success, teaching him everything he needed to know to work with adaptive skiers. 

Sean and fellow intern Jenn during their internship in 2016-2017.

Sean and Jenn during their internship in 2016-2017.

Sean describes his experience from those early days this way,

For me, the BOEC is a place that fosters immense growth and learning. I first arrived here as a somewhat lost and unsure 21 year old, and over my years with this organization I have come to discover so much about who I am, the things that I love, and a career path I could have never imagined when I was younger. In addition to my own growth, I have been so fortunate to witness other staff, interns, volunteers and participants gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world. From a day on the slopes to a week on the river, something incredible is happening here all the time.” 

This winter will be Sean’s eighth with BOEC, he shares the following story when recalling a winter lesson highlight. “During my time as an instructor with our ski program I had the honor of working with an exceptional young man named Burke. Burke was an accomplished ski racer who came to our program to learn mono skiing after his diagnosis made it difficult to stand up while skiing. Naturally, he picked up this new skill immediately and became one of the most technically sound young mono skiers I have ever worked with. At one point Burke was sidelined from skiing for a little over a year due to some medical complications. 

The 2022-23 Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program team, Katie, Lindsay, Austin, Malia, Jeff, Gardner, Sean (L to R).

The 2022-23 Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program team, Katie, Lindsay, Austin, Malia, Jeff, Gardner, Sean (L to R).

Sean continues the story,

“When he returned, I was blessed with the opportunity to coach him for his first day back on snow. On our first chairlift ride of the morning we had a conversation about how things had changed and what his goals were coming back to skiing. Without hesitation, Burke told me that his only goal was to be able to ski anywhere his little brother was racing, so that he could support and cheer him on. A couple minutes later we reached the top of the lift, his ski and outriggers hit the snow, and his turns were as flawless as ever. The maturity, grace, and sheer joy of skiing that Burke exuded at just fourteen years old is a memory I will carry in my heart for a very long time to come.”

While Sean’s tenure with BOEC began as an intern, he has since held various positions learning the ropes within various capacities at the organization, advancing most recently to the position of Assistant Ski Program Director for BOEC’s bustling Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program at Breckenridge. Working closely with the longstanding director Jeff Inouye, Sean’s impact is further explained by Jeff, “Sean has been an integral part of the Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program for many years.  After his winter internship, he has held the roles of Ski Instructor, Supervisor and Coordinator of the Keystone Adaptive Center, and is currently our Assistant Ski Program Director.  Sean has been a major contributor to the advancement of many ski office systems and also with improving the overall safety and risk management of the ski program.  He continues to be a tremendous asset to the BOEC and the Adaptive Ski Program!”  Sean discusses the details of his daily work at the ski office this way,

“During the winter months I spend a majority of my time scheduling instructors and pairing them with students. Some of my absolute favorite moments are when I get to see an instructor and a student make a really deep connection with each other. Knowing that I played a small part in making someone’s day brighter brings me an immense amount of joy and satisfaction.”

2016-2017 intern class out on a hike.

2016-2017 intern class out on a hike.

Over his years with the BOEC, Sean has worked with many volunteers throughout the Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program. For anyone interested in or considering volunteering with BOEC, he shares his thoughts, “Well I may be a little biased, but I think they would have a blast! Also, I would want them to know just how grateful we all are that they are even considering sharing their precious free time with us. This program would not be able to accomplish the work we do without each and every volunteer that comes through our doors. So thank you in advance, and we would love to meet you!”

In his free time, Sean likes to play outside, running, riding his bike, and backpacking. On the days he’s inside, he enjoys cooking, reading, and swing dancing. In the last few years, and with the extra time available during COVID-19, Sean started training for and running 50 kilometer ultramarathons. To date, he has run three ultramarathons, all in Colorado including Silverton, Golden Gate State Park, and Empire on Continental Divide. For him, the motivation is the sense of accomplishment and the goal is completion. Locally, his favorite trail to run or backpack is Eccles Pass section of the Gore Range Trail, a nearly 50 mile trail running from Copper Mountain to the Spring Creek area north of Silverthorne and the Green Mountain Reservoir.

Sean’s commitment to BOEC’s participants and programs is infectious and we are grateful to have him as part of the team.