I had always loved skiing and had a ski season on my to-do list for several years, so the opportunity to work in one of the best ski resorts in North America, work with kids and become a qualified ski instructor seemed to good to be true.
But it wasn’t, so in mid-December last year I found myself in Whistler with 23 other “Oysters” enthusiastically entering into the Season at Whistler Blackcomb. Before work officially started, we all got geared up; buying our very own sets of skis and boots that we would come to know very very well in the next 4½ months, as well as getting acquainted with the many bars and clubs that Whistler has to offer that we would also come to know very well in the season! After some good training on either the Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain (half the group worked on Whistler and half on Blackcomb) we were let loose on the mountain and found ourselves responsible for making skiers out of the little people in our charge. Everyone started out by teaching the “never-evers” (kids that hadn’t skied before), but by the end of the season we were teaching kids who could ski blue runs in parallel better than some of us may have started out!
Our days started early with a morning meeting at 8:15am before the kids piled in. We’d then entertain them for a bit and give them a snack before following the rule of “No pee, no Ski”! Then we got out and began the skiing using our silliness, imaginations and fun as much as possible to keep the kids’ attentions and keep them having fun on their holidays! The day wound up at around 3.30pm leaving time, in the second half of the season, for a run or two before the lifts closed. I worked with the “Adventure Camp” kids that came to ski school for a whole week. I really liked this as I got to know the kids well and found out what did and didn’t work for them.
Whistler Kids was an awesome place to work, we had a great team and I got on well with everyone I worked with. The supervisors were brilliant and really cared how you were getting on and supporting you in your lessons if you had any worries. We had quite a few socials and the training that Whistler Blackcomb put on for their staff was amazing, you could have free lessons at any point in the season as well as prep sessions for the certifications that you were thinking about doing. Pretty much everyone took their level 1 ski instructor exam in early January which meant that we were able to take the kids up on the chairlifts and get higher ability groups.
We were all staying in staff housing which was at the first stop up the gondola into the mountains making for the best commute to work you could ever imagine. Who can say that they got to ski into work each morning! I stayed in a flat with 3 other girls from Oyster who became some of my closest friends. Everyone shared a room, with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom in a flat. “House”, as staff housing was called, was just like university halls of residence if not a bit nicer, and as everyone living there was working for the mountain, you got to know a lot of people in your building by the time the season was over.
I was also lucky enough to be in Whistler for the Olympics as well. Whistler Blackcomb lent its staff to the Olympic committee for the games so my job was working at the sliding centre selling merchandise. It was good to have a little holiday from ski school and work with grown-ups again, and a brilliant opportunity to see some Winter Olympic events. I got to see the Luge, Skeleton and Bobsleigh on my breaks and on time off I saw some of the Downhill events as the skiers flashed past us. It was also great to get more time skiing while the hill was quiet. The village was buzzing and there was a great atmosphere about the whole Olympics.
Compared to a ski instructor course, this trip wins hands down. It worked out a lot cheaper, you could earn money at the same time and know that when you took your course you were ready and able to take and pass it. We also had a guaranteed job and accommodation as well as access to some of the best instructors on the mountain through in-house training and free ski school lessons that the public took.
Overall I had an amazing time in Canada, and would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of doing a ski instructor course or a ski season abroad. Coming through Oyster was the only way we would have been able to get a job anywhere as a ski instructor without first having the qualification so it was a fantastic placement. We had really good preparation and it was great to have Tory, our rep, out there in case anything happened. I made some brilliant friends out there, lived and worked in another country, improved my skiing so much since being out there as well as ambitions to work with kids in some way. You really do need to like working with kids to do this job and by the end of the season they become like Marmite – you either love them or you hate them! But Whistler Blackcomb are some of the best employers that I have worked for and try to make your time working for them one that you will want to repeat year after year. The perks of working for Whistler Blackcomb are fantastic and I am so glad for this experience. Thank you Oyster!

Thank you Emma!

For more information, visit our Canada homepage or email Jon.

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