DRNSP 20/21: An Extraordinary Season

DRNSP 20/21: An Extraordinary Season
Reflections from your outgoing Patrol Representative and 2020/2021 in Review.

In the early Fall of 2020 and in the throes of COVID, it looked as if there might not be a ski season at Dodge Ridge. In general, the NSP had given guidelines that basically allowed patrols to choose just how far they might be willing to go while maintaining primarily county and state protocols at that time regarding training and patrolling, while simultaneously recommending that 2020 Fall Refreshers be cancelled. Patrols, mountains, and their leadership were in quandaries about how to go forward, and many stalled out entirely. And then, the governor made Skiing “essential…” Wow… and it was on!

I will focus here on the DRNSP and how we chose to be proactive, progressive, and flexible.

COVID forced us to change what we “have always done” and be willing to experiment and try new ways of teaching OEC, among several other things.

As it turned out, the release of OEC 6 and its “online” components could not have come out at a better time. The curriculum was preloaded into a platform called Navigate facilitating adult’s and their busy schedules and at the same time really eliminating the need to have a “traditional” classroom setting on a particular day at a particular time forcing everyone to comply. We were able to deliver the content in ten weeks and during that time we had weekly zoom meetings to “check for understanding,” lecture for the next weeks readings and quizzes, engage in group discussions, respond to questions, and make clarifications as needed on finer
points.

The bigger challenge was to figure out how to do the “practical” portion of the training. Again, COVID forced us to get creative and though the use of outdoor settings, COVID screenings, family or close pods, and masks, we were able to be successful in that regard as well.

In the end, the number of hours invested by the students and instructors was just about the same as we had always done in the past, but the students were allowed to study the material on their schedules providing for a much better “buy in” and retention. All were very successful in their final evaluations. Today as I write this, all of those candidates are now patrollers.

Regarding other programs our patrol found ways to keep moving forward rather than become static. Toboggan Refreshers continued, Basic Candidate Trainings with Ski and Toboggan continued, Senior Candidate Trainings continued, the Yap program got up and running, and the Mountain Host Program also got off the ground. The DRNSP calendar was FULL of trainings again this season!

These efforts and accomplishments are not to be understated or diminished, as many patrols cancelled trainings, recruitment efforts, clinics, and even OEC/OFC classes. To cancel or say no was simply the easier choice, that often was veiled with COVID as the reason. Indeed, it was a good reason. However, I and others strongly believed that if the proper precautions were taken, protocols followed, and individual choice respected, that we could go forward rather than simply not do anything. Our patrol and its members demonstrated clearly that with innovative out of the box thinking, and with teamwork that we could continue to train, recruit, and grow both in numbers and in how we do “things.”

Through the use of technology everything has changed and not just because of COVID but rather we have been evolving in the last few years, because of progressive and collaborative leadership seeking to do things better and more efficiently. The results show up in how we track candidates progress using google sheets, or web page, sign ins for shifts, teach OEC and Toboggan training tips using posted videos, our historical records are all being scanned for safer keeping, and the list goes on. While there is still much work to be done, what remains is mostly refinement and tuning as the difficult heavy lifting is by and large done. We just need to keep
moving forward. Our Patrol has entered the 21 st century!

In the last few seasons, in particular this season, we have really been hitting recruitment hard in the social media, at first with Facebook and later Instagram and at this time. we have many, many followers. Keep hash tagging! Recruitment exploded this year and it is exciting to witness that our Patrol is squarely in the middle of a significant growth phase. Next year will most definitely bring out the need to continue to collaborate and team teach as we have fifteen candidates screened and ready to go. Eight are adults and seven are YAPS. The challenges that will come will be met as we continue to get out of the box, stay positive, and keep looking
forward for solutions. Each challenge is an opportunity.

To summarize this past season alone, the Patrol and its instructors were able to produce five new Alpine patrollers this season, two Alpine Seniors, and recruit and screen fifteen new candidates. The Senior candidate list is not getting shorter. There is one that just needs one more piece, a handful are in the midst, and two more just began by passing their OET immediately after becoming Basic Alpine patrollers. Which says something about our instruction and instructor core!

WOW!

It should be noted, that these efforts take several years of sustained efforts by many people for the candidates, Senior and Basic, to realize success. It is a huge effort and clear demonstration of what a collaborative cooperative effort can do…. A shared vision is what happens when teamwork is focused on.

I am so proud of the above accomplishments and of all of you! When I started as the First Assistant, and I watched the Patrol Representative ahead of me, I knew that once it was my turn that it would not be an easy two years. But I also knew that I intended to do it to the absolute best of my ability and leave the patrol in a strong position to grow, retain, and be proud.

I truly could not have been your PR all by myself, just not possible. It takes others who are guides, mentors, friends, and fellow patrollers that want to see the patrol flourish. It takes a PR, at least this one, that is willing to be mentored, guided, corrected on occasion, most of all, supported.

Thank you ALL so much!

As I get ready to leave the Patrol Representative position, I realize just how privileged and honored I have been to be a part of this great patrol. It is humbling indeed. I have been on the board for the last eight years, and I have learned so much from all of you.

I look forward to the next “thing” whatever that might be, but more importantly I look forward to skiing with all of you as a member among members on this great bunch of folks that I like to think are my good friends as well as fellow DRNSP patrollers.

Thank you all so much for allowing me to be your Patrol Representative for the past two years. It has been Awesome!

See you on the Hill.

All the best,
Bill