Get Out There

Mountain seeking volunteer ski patrollers

Volunteers perks include first aid training, free season pass and strong connections
 | July 13, 2022
Photo: Zuzy Rocka.

Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) is looking for passionate skiers or snowboarders to volunteer at Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR) for the upcoming winter season.

Aut-Lin Foster, head of recruitment, said since the pandemic CSP has seen a decrease in ski patrol volunteers on the mountain. CSP volunteers are crucial for SPR, especially on weekends and holidays.

“Sun Peaks has a pretty big paid crew but because of how big Sun Peaks is, they also rely quite a bit on CSP volunteers,” he said. “We’re pretty much part of the backbone of the mountain that keeps things going on through the winter.”

When Foster joined in 2019, the team had around 40 members. He said the decrease in volunteers is likely a combination of people being too busy, the mandatory vaccine requirement this past winter and the heavy commitment becoming a volunteer requires. 

“For first-year recruits, it’s a pretty intense fall [season],” he said. “They start in September, and they do Monday and Wednesday nights all the way pretty much until the season starts … Once people signed up and then found out about that, they backed out last minute.”

Although it’s a lot of responsibility, Foster said there are quite a few benefits to volunteering. Firstly, all volunteers who commit to at least 12 shifts receive a free season pass to use any time.

Any new recruit who joins also receives first aid training. The CSP course is AFA-Advanced First Aid, which Foster said is comparable to an Occupational First Aid level three certificate, only geared more towards the mountain environment.

Volunteering also provides the opportunity to train with the paid patrollers at SPR, if desired, to learn new techniques and skills. Beyond training, ski patrol also allows for hands-on experience and is a great way to make connections.

“I’ve made friends with quite a few people on the paid team and on the volunteer team,” Foster said. “Even some people that moved away, I still keep in contact with … It’s a lifelong friendship that you make during ski patrol.”

Foster added the pandemic damaged the social aspect of patrol, but said CSP hopes to bring back a more social atmosphere this year. One member has stepped up as an event coordinator and hopes to get volunteers together every couple of weeks.

Foster said SPR has also approached CSP and offered opportunities for bike patrol this summer. Anyone willing to join for the ski season may be able to try their hand at cross-country or downhill mountain biking patrol as well.

While looking for recruits, Foster said he’s hoping to find volunteers who are willing to help out for the long term, rather than just for the year.

“The ideal candidate would be a passionate skier or snowboarder that wants to do first aid and help out around the hill.”

Anyone who is interested or would like to learn more can email Foster at [email protected].