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By Aiden Bass, intern at our Sugarbush location, Winter 2019-2020
Today is April 10, 2020 in the Green Mountains and the snow is piling up on my deck. Usually, I would have set my alarm to 5:30 am and gone to the mountain to get fresh tracks, but today is different. Today I sleep in and look longingly out the window at the white flakes coming down. The mountains have all been closed due to the Covid-19 virus that has temporarily brought the world to a halt. This morning, a valuable lesson slips back into my mind. It is a lesson that I learned in my first year of adaptive instruction, and one that put a grin on my face everyday at Sugarbush this year. That I am so lucky to have access to the outdoors and to know the feeling of sliding on snow.
During the 19/20 Winter season I had the privilege of working with Felicia Fowler as an intern in the Vermont Adaptive office at Sugarbush. Originally from Western Massachusetts, I began working with adaptive snowboarding athletes at Mount Snow during high school. Falling in love with the new environment I was introduced to, I moved to Vermont in 2017. When I found this internship opportunity I was ecstatic. The position description was a combination of my passions and pursuits in education. My passion for snowboarding translates directly into my desire to share my knowledge with others. In school, at Champlain College Online, I am studying business management. The tools I learn in school help me work effectively with volunteers and coworkers, while my days with Vermont Adaptive gave me real life experiences and applications for my school work. Going to school online gave me the flexibility to be at Sugarbush during the week when necessary. I am on track to graduate in 2022. After graduating I hope to own my own business. My interests are many but ideas that I may pursue are outdoor education or a bakery or maybe a combination of the two.
Being an intern for Vermont Adaptive was not a “go on a coffee run” internship. Felicia treated me as an equal and gave me real responsibilities. Not until I had to fill in for her, did I gain an appreciation for how much work Felicia truly puts in. During the Winter Season, she is working seven days a week. She may only be at the office for six days, but there are no full days off. On top of that, her days are seldom only eight hours long. She is balancing so many moving parts which include booking lessons, setting up volunteers, doing paperwork, teaching lessons and working with the Sugarbush staff to ensure the program runs smoothly. My responsibilities were to help her in any way I could. This often meant running the office for one day a week, recruiting volunteers for lessons, doing paperwork and teaching lessons. On days when she wasn’t there, however, I was never alone. I always had the assistance of an amazing support system. My co-intern Michael and I filled in for Felicia when she could not be there, and he was a great person to work with. Michael was professional in everything he did including teaching lessons and making our students feel a part of the program. We were blessed to have Norm Staunton working with us as his expertise in adaptive instruction and ability to connect with everyone that we worked with was second to none.
It was an honor to work with Ret. SSG. Misha Pemble Belkin and the Veteran Ventures program. Misha’s ability to garner community was inspiring. Most helpful of all however, were the unrelenting core of volunteers who were with us the whole season. Our volunteers reminded me time and time again what teaching adaptive sports is all about: being creative and having a fluid definition of success. From full day lessons where Rob Galloway became a professional magician to keep his students attention. To our patient weekday crew of volunteers who worked with the school groups throughout the season.
The progress made by every student in the school groups was impeccable because of our volunteers willingness to be flexible and cooperative. Seeing the determination of so many volunteers made me want to be better at my job. Those who volunteered every Sunday with Special Olympics, and others who were so easy to count on such as the Kimpton family. I learned so much just from assisting Andrew on a couple of bi-ski lessons. Getting to be involved with the High Fives camp was awesome, riding with some of the best mono skiers in the world gave me a new perspective of the endless possibilities on snow.
Working with Vermont Adaptive this winter gave me a renewed appreciation for being on snow and everyday tasks I take for granted. The people that I met and built relationships with at Sugarbush were by far the highlight of my winter. As I spend this time at home and away from others, I am reminded the importance of connecting with members of our community. I look forward to being a part of the Vermont Adaptive community in the future when we can all have fun together outdoors again.
Check out the internships available for Winter 2020-2021 here: https://www.vermontadaptive.org/internships/