YOSEMITE – Time for all-weather volunteers to suit up as Mountain Area Ski School (MASS) readies for the season with an instructor orientation, family ski swap, and instructor clinic day, all coming soon.
MASS is currently looking for ski and snowboard instructors and support people to help out this season. No prior teaching experience is necessary, say organizers, since MASS offers instructor training for qualified applicants. Applications are available online. There is no charge to instructors for insurance or the cost of fingerprinting, which is required. Those fees are taken care of by MASS.
Dating back to 1961, MASS annually serves hundreds of area children in 5th through 8th grades. Certified volunteer instructors teach downhill, cross-country and snowboarding to eligible students who are bused to Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park every Friday from January to March, approximately 12 weeks.
This year’s Instructor Orientation location is set for the Lutheran Church on Road 426 in Oakhurst, this Friday, Dec. 5 at 9 a.m.
“Not an expert skier or snowboarder? Not a problem, you only need to be better than the level you are instructing,” says Calvin Lyster, who has been involved with the program for nearly 40 years. “This is a wonderful opportunity, not only to be involved with the community, but there are other benefits.” For every Friday that an instructor volunteers with MASS, he or she will receive a free lift ticket to use at Badger Pass within the same week.
“A commitment must be made to teach from the start of the season until the end of March, weather and snow permitting.”
Here’s another date to keep in mind: a Ski Swap event has been created by participating area schools and MASS, say organizers, so people can sell and purchase ski/snowboard equipment and apparel at extremely discounted prices.
Ski Swap is set for Thursday, Dec. 11 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Oak Creek Intermediate School in Oakhurst, in the cafeteria/gym. “MASS downhill ski instructors and snowboard instructors are encouraged to attend to provide their valued experience and expertise in purchasing equipment.”
Next, an instructor clinic is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 19 at Badger Pass starting at 9 a.m. in the Snowflake Room. This meeting and instruction is for those who have completed applications to volunteer.
“Great skiing or snowboarding ability is not required, because many of our kids have either never been on skis or boards before, or are just getting started in the sport. If you are a responsible adult, and can be available at least nine of approximately twelve Fridays during the season, we can use your help. We will teach you how to teach them.”
The first class day of the season is expected to be Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.
Cedar Valley Cal says MASS can’t run unless they have sufficient volunteers. “Without instructors, there is no skiing.”
Those who have been volunteer instructors at MASS in the past frequently return year after year. Virginia Lazar is one such volunteer.
“The MASS program is awesome,” says Lazar, who has been an instructor for five years. “Wonderful way to give back locally, working with kids who would otherwise not have the opportunity to ski or snowboard. The volunteers are an amazing group of people, and the instructor training we receive is invaluable.”
Organizers agree the program is vital to kids growing up in the mountains. “For many, this will be their only opportunity to experience skiing or snowboarding. In the age of cable TV, hi-speed internet, cell phones and video games, the benefits of exposing children to wholesome outdoor activities cannot be overstated.”
MASS is also looking for volunteers to chaperone on the school bus, and help with passing out and returning ski equipment. “While the kids ski, you can relax on the deck and enjoy the sunshine we usually have in the spring. Take a snowshoe tour, visit with old friends and make new ones.” Visitors are encouraged to come by Badger Pass on any Friday to see what folks are up to on the slopes.
For more information contact Matt Casey (559) 658-8794 or Calvin Lyster (559) 683-5186.
Print out the volunteer application form at the MASS website.