Kim Terwilliger, Assistant Eastern Division Director
Welcome to winter in the northeast – rain, snow, rain, ice, rain, wind, snowmageddon, or nothing. Despite our winter weather situation, the Eastern Division has delivered multiple education programs for our members with more still available. MTR programs were available in November and December. Multiple patroller schools have been held since January throughout the Division, including Sugarloaf, Elk, Killington, Plattekill, and Seven Springs. A snowboard/tele-specific event was held at Waterville Valley as well. Gore will be hosting an upcoming patroller school at the end of February. Women’s clinics have been embedded in many of the patroller schools which have been very well attended.
In addition to the patroller schools, numerous regions have hosted OET and women ’s-specific clinics. Three Level 1 Avalanche courses have been on the calendar for this winter with one Level 2 course being conducted at Whiteface. The Certified program has held their pre-test and candidates are prepping for the exam, scheduled for Sugarbush in March. Good luck Certified candidates! Most regions are holding their Senior OET evaluations during the first weekend in March with Senior OEC evaluations scheduled throughout the month as well. Good luck to all those candidates too!
Our YAPs have been very busy attending region-specific or combined region events in preparation for their YAP Summit to be held at Smugglers’ Notch, March 8-10. These events have included overnight programs, escape room games, and OET/OEC training. They are an incredibly talented, enthusiastic group.
Thank you to all the Division and Region staff members who dedicate their time and energy to schedule, instruct, and make programs accessible for our Eastern Division patrollers!
One more thing…the search is on for the next Eastern Division Women’s Program Advisor. If interested, please see the eblast announcement for details and submit a letter of interest and resume to Kim Terwilliger, firstname.lastname@example.org by February 28, 2024.
The Outdoor Emergency Care Module of the Senior Program (OECMSP) has been updated and reinvented to reflect more of a training program that provides growth in the area of Leadership, Decision Making, and Problem Management (LDP). Once you have demonstrated mastery in your OEC skills, the patroller moves on to clinics that will focus on the objectives of LDP. The scenarios you will work with are designed to help focus your growth, and more concise problem-solving leading to quicker decision-making and better leadership. Each clinic should leave you with a feeling of accomplishment and something to focus your growth on. In addition to mastery of the OEC skills, there are requirements for breaking down written scenarios to identify problems and potential solutions as well as writing a scenario with LDP as the challenge as well as OEC.
During your training clinic sessions, you will need to pass four on-snow scenarios as a prerequisite to attend your evaluation day. These scenarios should prepare you well for the final evaluation and come from a set of scenarios that are challenging and score the same as the scenarios you will see during the final evaluation.
Trainer Evaluators are also adding additional training so they focus more on the LDP aspect of the OECMSP and how to better train candidates on what to expect and then evaluate them with a focus on LDP.
Evaluation day may look different as well. All candidates participating in the final evaluation will decide on whether to have a non-scoring warm-up scenario, or some other warm-up activity, or move directly into the final evaluations. During the final evaluation process, you will only have two scenarios to complete successfully. Since the new OECMSP program is more focused on training, if you are not successful on one scenario you will have the opportunity to train or review what didn’t work well in the failed scenario and the opportunity to redo on that day or a date in the future that is agreeable to all.
The big difference here is that prior to continuing, the program is designed to provide you with the opportunity to train and reach a level of comfort before you go into your next evaluation. Not being successful in one scenario allows you to complete your redo in the same season. Not being successful in two scenarios means you go back into the training program with practice scenarios and go through that process again until you are comfortable. In most cases that takes more than one season. For Patrollers, Alpine Patrollers, and Nordic Patrollers this evaluation continues to be under the conditions which you patrol which requires an on-snow final evaluation experience.
Other updates to the program provide the logistics to run this program to be trimmed down and need a smaller number of personnel to run an event.
Bottom line is the principle and practice that the OECMSP has moved to become a more flexible training program that enhances the patroller’s personal growth in the areas of Leadership, Decision Making, and Problem Management. The program will support ski areas with better scenario and OEC management from trained patrollers as well as help these same patrollers become leaders within NSP in the future.
If you have any questions or would like a deeper look please feel free to reach out to the Eastern Division OEC Supervisor, any of the Asst. OEC Supervisors or email@example.com .
Each season, at the beginning of December the Outdoor Emergency Transportation (OET) Program gathers OET staff members from across the Eastern Division for a weekend focused on leadership and professional development. This year’s conference was aptly named, Building Great Instructors. So, what makes an instructor great? The International Olympic Committee summarized it well.
What makes an instructor great?
1. Understands the sport and leads by example.
2. Sponge for knowledge.
3. Shares the knowledge with others.
4. Highly energized and a motivator.
5. Knows the student, values, and respects the relationship.
6. Is an effective communicator and teacher.
7. Is a good listener.
8. Is disciplined, strong in character and integrity.
9. Leads by example very high attitude for hard work.
10. Displays commitment and clear passion for the sport.
The OET program’s mission is to create an environment of learning that elevates the skills, ability, and techniques needed to safely and efficiently transport guests to a higher level of care. Delivering on this mission begins with building great instructors, and leaders, within the OET program.
The Learning Connection
During this year’s conference, OET leaders were introduced to the Learning Connection model developed by the Professional Ski Instructor Association (PSIA). The Learning Connection emphasizes that great lessons rely on the instructor’s ability to offer a blend of people skills, teaching skills, and technical skills. This approach creates informative, fun, and personalized experiences that keep students engaged in the learning process. To learn more about the Learning Connection, check out this write-up by PSIA.
OET Teaching Philosophy uses FIVE Essential components:
● Lesson Progressions that chain together “snippets” to facilitate incremental success as a pathway for mastering skills.
● Snippet-sized lessons with manageable objectives are designed to simplify guided practice, leading to quicker student success.
● Ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation to re-teach skills, customizing faster student success, known as ADAPT.
● Six-Pack Lesson Planning with an emphasis on creatively re-teaching and re-designing student activities, more ADAPT.
● Individualized Positive Immediate Student Feedback is used throughout all learning activities, practiced as PISE.
● Teach OET Instructors how to structure on-snow lesson activities.
Bringing It Home – Building Great Instructors
An essential function of an OET Staff member is to build great instructors in their home region. The learning activities and professional development that Staff members access at the OET Conference help provide them with the tools to bring that knowledge home to their regions, where the Regional OET Advisors can leverage their conference experience into training their Regional Senior Training staff as well as influence training improvements for local mountain Toboggan Instructors. To learn more about the OET Program, visit PatrollerSchool.org.
Watch Western Appalachian Region YAP Advisor Anna Hermann as she interviews Hidden Valley Ski Patrol YAP Gracie Gonzalez about her experiences at last year’s 2023 Eastern Division YAP Summit held at Smugglers’ Notch. Gracie talked about what inspired her to become a patroller, what a wonderful learning experience the division YAP event was, and how it affected her growth as a young patroller and as a young adult. Gracie was the first YAP to receive the James Slattery Award. Read about Jim Slattery, the Division’s Oldest Junior, in the next issue of Trail Sweep.
The Avalanche team is attempting to work within our winter schedule. If you have not noticed, we have lost a week or two at the end of our season. The snowpack is not as deep as it once was. We also have an increasing population heading into the backcountry, and our programs require more avalanche training.
So, our team is trying something new – a mid-week program at Smugglers’ Notch. We have no idea if this will work for our members, but we have had several requests for it. So you asked, and we are delivering.
We will also be running a Level 2 Avalanche program this year. It has been too long. We are organizing an amazing lineup of instructors and guest speakers. This Level 2 program is required for our Avalanche instructor candidates. I expect this class will fill up fast.
We are delivering an amazing product at a low cost to our users. We will be A3 certified for our Level 1 class, again helping our students by providing a long-term path for future training. We have elected not to become A3 certified for our Level 2 course as this is not on a critical path for our students. It appears that our Level 2 far exceeds the typical recreational Level 2. In fact, our Level 2 is a prep class for Pro Level 1 classes.
I just got back from the Eastern Snow Avalanche Workshop and again was reminded how amazing our program and team are, but I did see some numbers that suggest that East Coast skiers are potentially heading into avalanche terrain with less education and preparation than our Western skiers.
So please, if you are heading into avalanche terrain, get the education and equipment you need. But more importantly, it’s critically important that you have partners that are ready to dig you out. This is where we are lacking on the east coast. We often have one person with the equipment and training, but other party members do not.
If you want to learn more about skiing in avalanche country, sign up for our course at Smugglers’ Notch. For more information, contact David Childs, Eastern Division Avalanche Supervisor, at 413-464-1044.
Do you want to be an instructor, or know someone else who does? We in the Eastern Division are always looking for good instructors. The process is not difficult but can seem confusing to many patrollers. Becoming an instructor consists of taking the Instructor Development Course (see below) and mentoring with a qualified instructor in the discipline you want to teach. The disciplines include Outdoor Emergency Care, Outdoor Emergency Transportation, Avalanche, Mountain Travel & Rescue, Bike Patrol, and even Instructor Development itself. The mentoring phase is a very important part of the process of becoming an instructor. You will learn valuable tips and techniques for making your lessons impactful and successful.
The Instructor Development Course consists of 2 parts: the pre-requisite online Instructor Development eCourse and a “Face to Face” skills session to demonstrate what was learned in the “eCourse.” The online eCourse is available in our very own Center for Learning. This ID eCourse can be taken at any time by any patroller. Registering for the course is very similar to registering for the online portion of the OEC refresher in the Center for Learning. Just search the “Browse Catalog” for Instructor Development or click on the Instructor Development Category on the left of the page. There is no cost, and it can be taken at your own speed.
When you are ready, the second part of the ID course is the in-person “Face-to-Face” or Skills Session. Many of these classes are offered at the Region or Division level in an in-person format. Sometimes, a student can use a virtual option for the Skills Session. This may be due to geographic challenges or the lack of availability of an in-person class nearby.
To register, go to the Center for Learning and search for 2023 in the Search bar. Click on “Choose Session” to open available classes. If you know where the class will be held, you can search by that location. Make sure you choose the correct session.
One new option to complete the Skills Session is a monthly offering given by the National Instructor Development Committee. This virtual session is offered monthly via the Zoom platform, usually on a Tuesday (and Wednesday if needed). There is a maximum of 10 people per class, but they can be from any Division. This is intended for patrollers who have difficulty accessing an in-person option in their area. If you are interested in this class or have any questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you have completed both parts of the ID course, you will either be assigned or choose a mentor. Check with your Patrol or Region ID Advisor to discover the process for mentor assignment in your Region. Work with your mentor to plan and deliver lessons, obtain feedback, and revise your lesson plan. The final step is to be observed being taught by an instructor trainer. Your mentor, the IT, and you will sign and complete the Instructor Application and Mentoring Form, which is then sent to the Division Supervisor. Sometimes it may be routed through the Region Advisor to the Supervisor.
If you have any questions about this process, please contact your Patrol or Region Advisor. If you are unsure who to contact, you can go to the Eastern Division website and choose your Region to find the ID Advisor, or you can contact me directly at Lisa Rabideau
The 2024 Patroller School schedule and many other training events have been posted on the Eastern Division’s EVENT website. Please use it to find division-based educational events. The four programs that actively utilize Patroller School are:
Twenty years ago, the concept of offering high-level training opportunities taught by Division staff Instructors originated with Outdoor Emergency Transportation (OET). OET was initially known as the “ski and toboggan” program. It created the first Patroller School at Windham Resort in Southern NY as an opportunity for NSP members patrolling at smaller mountains to train on the big slopes with moguls. The event became popular and became a socializing weekend, as Patrollers traveled from all around the division to gather for a common training purpose. Soon, the concept spread to every corner of the Division and today includes Women’s events, snowboard training, telemark skiing, etc.
Avalanche courses follow a high-level curriculum because they deliver certification that some patrollers require as part of their patrolling profession. The course is quite long, with an online study component and a weekend of two and a half days traveling in avalanche terrain. Patroller School is an excellent place for members to shop when considering the type of avalanche certification they should invest in. NSP’s Avalanche Level Once is a little more involved than traditional “Companion Rescue Avalanche” certification because NSP includes a professional group rescue module.
Mountain Travel and Rescue, known as MTR for short, is NSP’s entry-level backcountry travel course. It covers winter ski camping from the perspective of navigation, sheltering in the mountains, staying warm, nutrition, trip planning, group leadership, organized search and rescue (SAR), etc. Completing the course gives members certification for joining SAR activities nationwide, known as ASTM F-2209 Land Searcher One certificate. Watch the MTR Events page to see courses added during late autumn and early spring. This is a great event to attend after the typical ski season concludes.
Eastern Division’s Stress Awareness Team has added a self-paced online course that individuals can sign up to experience. The team has been working on programs for preparing. Patrollers to better handle stress in both their rescue work as well as from the pressures of daily life. Developing individual techniques for handling the more challenging aspect of Patrolling has been found to alleviate the effects of stress. Learn to monitor yourself before, during, and after especially stressful situations. Learn how to recognize if the effects of stress are leading to an injury. Learn that you are not alone; there are Patrollers at your resort who can help; learn how to help yourself.
Visit Eastern Division’s EVENT website to look for educational opportunities by Googling PatrollerSchool.ORG
The first article of the season for the Certified team is an opportunity for the newest members to thank all who have helped, influenced, and driven their hard work and determination. Certified has a three-year completion window, so hard work is mandatory, travel is necessary, and help is always appreciated.
Each year, I have the pleasure of presenting newly minted Certified members their pins and numbers. This takes place at the end of the annual exam at our banquet. This past season, the Certified team added two new members to our ranks: Kevin Hartka, #859, and Jessie Miller, #860.
Of note – Jessie Miller #860 is a legacy Certified member; her father is Dave Ronald #171. Unfortunately, Dave is no longer with us, but the Elk Mountain Certified team members presented Jessie with her father’s pin. In addition, Jessie Miller completed her Certified candidacy in one year. It has been 27 years since the team has had a member complete all components in one season.
Congratulations to both, and please go to the Program News section and take some time to read about their Certified Journey found at Kevin and Jessie.
It had been five years since I first sat at a seat at the certified annual banquet dinner. Five years since I entered into the certified program, drawn to the group of passionate patrollers and their camaraderie, and this was my third and last test year.
It was a long road of hard studying, training, and stressful, sleepless nights, broken by two years of COVID cancelations that stole my wind and faded my memories of my first year such that my second felt much like my first. But this was it; it all came down to this last year. I had to make it happen.
Though I felt well prepared and anxious to complete the three modules I had left, the thought of going down that road again began to feel awfully daunting. I had made many phone calls, pestered all the managers of the different departments at my mountain with my questions, and spent much of the year immersed in studying my remaining topics. I felt like I did everything I could do with my time, knowledge, and resources.
After one of the worst sleepless nights at the test in my experience going through the program, stressing over things I thought I may have missed in the first of my last three interviews, I rose the next morning much more ambitious than expected, and I felt strong in my last two interviews.
It was done! Or was it? So the mind battle began, silencing my fears, trying not to stress and go over what I may or may not have missed, imagining, and mentally preparing to start the whole three years all over again. Focusing on the present, I relaxed into the last few days with nothing to do but help out with the rest of the weekend and enjoy my time with the group while I waited to see the results.
It had been five years, with a two-year COVID interruption, and I was sitting at a table at another banquet dinner. This time, my fiancé and 4-year-old daughter were there with me as we enjoyed a delicious meal provided by Killington. As the plates emptied and the drinks began to rise, Jon Wilson took the podium to give his thanks and recognition to all who helped put together a successful event. And then it happened…
“Peter Neefus, can you come up to the front, please? Katie Demers, Can you please come up to the front?”
I was flooded with a wave of emotions; my palms began to sweat, and my eyes began to moisten.
“I would like to welcome our newest member, number 859, Kevin Hartka….please come up to the front.”
Kevin getting pinned by his fiancé
The room broke out in cheering and applause as I rose and proceeded to the front of the room, where my family and friends waited with my certificate and number and adorned me with a shiny new certified pin. The moment was such a tsunami of emotions I’m not sure I can clearly replay the rest of the evening but I’m pretty sure I either got a hug or a handshake from everyone in the room and a big congratulations.
It has been two weeks now since that momentous day when I received my number, and I have had time to reflect and digest what has been a truly incredible experience! The program has shaped and carved me into a better patroller, and will continue to do so. And I couldn’t have done it without the support of the people around me. It is a true honor to be part of this incredible group of patrollers!
I would like to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to those who supported me through this program. First and foremost, I would like to thank NSP for all their incredible programs that have brought me to where I am. Second, I would like to thank our chair, Jon Wilson, for his inspirational leadership and kind friendship. Without a solid leader, where would we be?
A special thanks to my mentor and friend, Peter Neefus, for showing me the program and helping me in every capacity he could. The amount of time and effort Peter put into helping me and other candidates get through the program is unparalleled!
I would also like to thank my patrol leader, Sue Hallenbeck, for putting up with my distractions during my shifts while studying, my likely annoying, at times, questions, and my constant push to learn about patrol leadership and outdoor risk management.
Justin Guth for giving his time to talk on the phone and help me through my hardships. For his support from day one, both as a friend and a leader!
Steve Suomala for his great friendship and countless phone calls. Steve pointed me in all the right directions and talked me down when times were tough.
And the list goes on…
Last but certainly not least, I want to thank my fiancé and family for putting up with my absence through this time. It has been a long haul, and I could not have done it without their support.