Work in the fast paced environment of Whistler Kids in one of our support roles for the winter season.
We have three different types of role available: either helping to ensure all of the Whistler Kids Zones are safe and fun as an Outdoor Ranger; working back of house in the snow school kitchens; or working closely with the kids in the den, helping to keep them motivated and having fun both during and outside of their lesson timetable.
Duration: Approximately 24 weeks (the whole season)
Dates: Mid November – late April each year. Check out similar roles in Whistler, Banff or Tremblant.
Arrival day: Thursday
Return day: Thursday
Eligibility: Good level of fitness required, along with relevant work experience (ski/snowboard experience is required for the Outdoor Ranger role)
Age: 18-30 to be able to apply for the work permit
- Earning money while living and working for the world-renowned Whistler Blackcomb
- Enjoying all the benefits of working for the snow school – season ski pass and discounts included
- Comprehensive support & advice you’ll receive, particularly during our orientation, which includes a ZipTrek tour
- Developing a passion for winter sport, whether you are new to it or have experience already
Whistler Kids is the Whistler Blackcomb Snow School designed for children aged 3-11. Whilst the instructors are the face of the snow school, its backbone is made up of the support staff during the ski season. They are the people who keep everyone happy and fed, keep the beginner slopes clear, the Kids Zones safe, and they always have a big smile on their face!
If you have experience of working with children and like the idea of working at Whistler Kids but don’t have the ski experience to be an instructor, we have a limited number of support roles available, all subject to experience and interview. You can apply to be an outdoor ranger, kitchen assistant or den master. These places tend to go quickly so don’t leave it too late to book your place.
In all roles you can expect to earn C$13 per hour (approx £7 per hour) and be paid fortnightly.
We ask for a £180 payment when booking this programme. If, in the event you are unsuccessful in the interview, or we cannot find a job for you before you leave home, the money that you pay Oyster is fully refundable.
Whistler Kids is not restricted to the beginner slopes and main buildings. There are also two adventure play parks – Tree Fort and the Magic Castle – that need to be maintained and supervised. The role of the Outdoor Ranger is to keep all of the Whistler Kids areas safe, animated and fun.
You’ll start work early in the morning, setting up the equipment on the nursery slopes and clearing snow in the parks. This role combines manual labour, working outdoors all day and supervising children.
To be a candidate for this role, you need to have previous experience working with children, be at least an intermediate skier/boarder (you need to transfer equipment between locations), have a keen sense of safety and have previous outdoor/manual work experience.
Within this role you will be helping to prepare the lunches for the children and staff each day. Having previous experience working around food and children is a real asset for this job but not essential. What is key is a positive outlook, willingness to learn and a big smile for the kids and staff alike.
You can expect to work in all roles within the kitchen. The job involves basic food preparation, dish-washing, setting up & clearing tables and serving food.
Each day we would rotate and do different tasks so we all had a chance to do different jobs in the kitchen. During the quiet times of the season (and when there was decent snow) we were allowed ride breaks which was pretty awesome! – Clare Barrett, Kitchen Assistant
When you’re dealing with children aged 3-11, they are not going to all be happy all of the time!
The Den Master is someone who can help the instructors look after children who are upset, need the loo or do not want to ski – generally it is the 3-5 year olds who struggle the most with the cold temperatures associated with learning to ski. These children need to be able to come inside, warm up and cheer up so that they can head back out onto the mountain with the instructor. This is where the Den Master comes in with games, smiles and laughter!
This is not a full time ‘day care’ role. The parents have paid for their kids to ski so that is what they need to be doing. When all the children are happy, you will get involved in other support roles – helping out in the kitchen or assisting instructors on the beginner slopes.
For this role you need to have good experience of working with young children in a nursery or crèche setting. The more childcare experience the better for this role!
- Guaranteed bed in Whistler Blackcomb staff housing for the season
- Housing is a real premium in Whistler, and our participants always comment how pleased they are that it is confirmed before arrival
- Accommodation located on Blackcomb Mountain very close to the lifts – one of the best locations in the whole resort!
- Share a room in a self-contained flat. Each flat caters for four people and has two bedrooms (with bunk beds), a lounge, bathroom and small kitchen
- WiFi and bills included in the rent
- Rent is deducted directly from your pay cheque at the rate of approx $12.60 (roughly an hour’s pay) per night
- The accommodation is self-catered with a small kitchen to be able to cook simple meals. The kitchen has a sink, fridge/freezer, hob, microwave and storage space
- Lunch is provided on the days that you are working
- Enjoy evening ‘staff meals’ next to your accommodation. A three-course meal is currently $7!
- Whistler is a foodies paradise offering cuisine options from around the world
Airport: Vancouver (YVR)
Arrival day: Usually a Thursday – this will be confirmed before you book your flights
Transfer details: Assuming you arrive with the rest of the group, we will transfer you to a hostel in Vancouver for the first night. The next morning, Tory shows you where you can register for your Social Insurance Number before you hop on the coach and head up the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) to Whistler. The journey takes about two and a half hours. On arrival, we’ll get you checked in and give you time to settle into your accommodation before beginning our thorough orientation.
Departure day: Usually a Thursday. If you are flying home on our end date, the airport transfer is included. If you are returning on a different date you will need to organise your own transport
As an ATOL bonded company we can book flights for you from the UK or elsewhere. If you are flying with the group from London, we will see you off at Heathrow on departure day. On arrival, our rep Tory will pick you up at Vancouver Airport and transport you into the city.
If you want to arrange your own flights to Vancouver, that’s fine too. If you arrive at the same time as the rest of the group, the airport transfer will be included, otherwise you will just need to make your own way to the hostel for the first night.
Dual-national Tory (she is British and Canadian) took her gap year in Tremblant, went back to the UK to complete her degree and returned to Whistler to become a ski instructor. She is married to Mike, one of Whistler’s most respected ski instructors, and they have two young children. Tory’s full time job is as the Senior Manager at Whistler.com. She has been our representative since the beginning and knows what she’s talking about, having done it herself!
On arrival, Tory will arrange a short orientation course and be in close contact with you over the first couple of days. As time goes on, Tory will take more a back seat and be there as a helpful friend should you need any help or advice. Once a month Tory hosts a meet up with the Oyster group where we provide a few drinks and snacks which provides the chance to chat through any issues you might have. Tory is a local expert on where to go and what to see in the area.
Our representatives are there to be a helpful friend to you and steer you through difficulties of any kind. Tory will keep us updated on your health and welfare throughout.
Read more about Tory in our ‘meet the reps‘ blog.
- Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
- Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
- Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
- In-country support
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
- Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
- Thorough orientation on arrival
- Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
- Advice on visa requirements
- Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help reduce the impact of global carbon emissions
- UK briefing day covering childcare issues and work advice
- Meeting a senior manager from Whistler Kids at our UK briefing course (conducted on Skype for those outside the UK)
- Oyster will guarantee to find you a job
- Organisation of staff accommodation before arrival (nightly cost of approx $12.60 per night taken directly from pay cheque, which is roughly £50 per week)
- Full season Epic ski pass, with staff discounts, once you begin your job
- Arrangement of transportation to your accommodation from the airport
- One night in a central Vancouver hostel when the group arrives in Canada
- Thorough orientation when you arrive in Whistler
- Assistance organising your Social Insurance Number and bank account (with TD Bank in Whistler)
- Assistance and support from our representative, Tory, throughout the season, including monthly social ‘meet ups’
- Wages paid fortnightly (approx. £200 per week, before tips)
- In-resort discount on buying skis and boots when you first arrive in Whistler
- ZipTrek session during the orientation
- Unique Oyster hoody
- Oyster luggage tag
- Bus ticket back to Vancouver Airport on the programme end date
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
- Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
- You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
- Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
- Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Home country travel costs
- Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
- Be eligible for the Canadian IEC Working Holiday Program (sign up for our free application guide)
- Accommodation and food costs, approximately C$18 (£11) per day. Accommodation cost is taken directly from your pay cheque
- Police check for immigration purposes (approx. £55)
- Cost of IEC Working Holiday Work Permit and biometrics fee – C$338
“I always enjoy visiting Whistler and hearing the stories from our participants and the great feedback from management. We’re proud of the fact Whistler Kids want to work with us and we’ll continue sending well selected and prepared participants every year.” Says Jon.
Working for Whistler Kids is hard work but immense fun. The support roles generally start by 8.30am each day. You will begin by setting up your area and getting ready for the day ahead. As a Den Master, you will assist the instructors with getting the children ready for their lessons, helping out on the nursery slope and, importantly, dealing with any children who are having a tough day.
In the kitchen, our Kitchen Assistants are busy in the morning preparing food for the children and staff. At lunch time, it’s all hands to the deck to serve the food and clear up in between sittings before a major clean up after lunch.
In both roles, expect to finish work by 4pm.
The Outdoor Rangers have a slightly longer day (no bad thing when you are hourly paid!). Expect to start work at 7.30am and be finished by 4.30pm.
The roles are full time and you can expect an average of 4-5 days work per week across the season. Working in a tourist resort means that there are fluctuations in the number of guests and therefore the number of hours of work you will get. During peak times, such as Christmas, you may be working 6 or even 7 days per week. In the quieter times you may only get 2-3 days work per week. Each pay cheque will be different so there will be times you need to live on a budget. The great thing about fewer shifts though is that you’ll be able to ski on your days off and did we mention that a season-pass is included?!
Participants head out towards the end of November and the season generally finishes for Whistler Kids in mid-April. The exact date depends on how good the snow is! Our programme runs until the end of April to give you some time to enjoy the spring skiing and relax after a busy season, before heading home or continuing your travels.
This depends on the support role that you are looking to work in.
Den Masters and Kitchen Assistants do not need to have any previous ski or snowboard experience. You will be able to walk to work without the need to ski/board. On your days off, you’ll certainly have lots of opportunity to improve your skills!
For the Outdoor Ranger position you would need to be an experienced skier or snowboarder (minimum of 4 weeks experience) as this role involves moving equipment around the resort whilst on your skis/board.
When the snow is there! You will arrive at the start of the winter season towards the end of November and then work until the end of the season in April.
Included in this programme is a ZipTrek tour. This takes place during your orientation weekend in Whistler and is a great way to get to know Whistler, the local habitat and your fellow Oysters!
The tour takes about 3 hours to complete, it takes in 5 ziplines crossing over the Fitzsimmons Creek (between Whistler and Blackcomb). This is an exhilarating adreline rush adventure but also teaches you a lot about the local environment you will call home for the next 5 months.
Check out this video from ZipTrek
These roles are great for people who do not have as much ski experience or who are snowboarders. Excluding the Outdoor Ranger role, you will not need to ski at work so you can concentrate on developing your skills on the mountain during your time off.
The great thing about being a support staff member within Whistler Kids is that you get the same benefits as the instructors – which means, among other things, you get a season long ski pass included with the job!
Working in Canada for a season is a great use of your gap year or career break. Not only will it enhance your CV but it will also enhance your independence and confidence. You will be living and working in another country for 5 months and developing your skills.
The winter in Whistler is perfect for a ski season. Temperatures remain below 0 on the mountain for the majority of the season meaning fantastic snow. Even when the village warms up, temperatures as low as -20 are not uncommon mid-winter on the mountain.
It can take up to 6 weeks before your first pay cheque arrives so you will need to arrive in Canada with enough money to feed and entertain yourself. We would suggest having a minimum of £1000 available, plus extra if you are buying skis/boots. Once you start earning money, you should be able to live on the money you earn day to day. You might want savings in place to cover any extra trips or outings that you want to do.
A requirement of the CIC Working Holiday Program is that you arrive in Canada with the equivalent of $2500 in your account (approx £1600).
You will be able to set up a Canadian bank account with the help of our local representative at TD Bank in Whistler, which you will be able to get a card for. Credit cards are advised for emergencies, as well as enough cash to see you through the first few days. There are ATM’s in the village so you won’t need too much cash with you.
We recommend opening a free account with Revolut with you as well. You can read more on our blog here.
You will need to apply for a Canadian IEC Working Holiday permit before you go. To be able to qualify for the working holiday visa, you must be between the ages of 18 and 30, and hold a passport from one of the eligible countries stated by the Canadian Embassy: Australia, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea Rep, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom. This costs C$250 approximately (£150).
You will also need a Police Check for immigration purposes and this costs approximately £45.
We will help with this once you have booked a place on the programme.
You will need to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months after your return date (any less can be possible but is likely to cause delays at immigration).
Most people book with Oyster on their own and travel with the rest of the group. The group meets at a UK briefing course before you go to Canada and we also create a Facebook group each season.
You will be able to travel with a friend if you wish, please state this on your booking form.
You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need. It is likely that only your routine vaccinations will need to be up to date.
There is a hospital and multiple pharmacies located in Whistler village. For anything more serious, the main hospitals are in Vancouver.
Life in the Snow School is very safe, as it has to be for the young children! However you should always follow advice given by your employers to keep yourself and the children safe.
Whistler is a very safe village in general but it is always advised to keep valuables secure and stick together when you first arrive.
Staff accommodation, HOUSE, is located halfway up Blackcomb Mountain. This means that you are pretty much ‘ski in ski out’ and that your commute to work involves a ski down to the village creating fresh tracks in the morning! To get back to your accommodation you can take a lift, or if the lifts are closed, either take a bus or walk up the mountain. This takes about 20 minutes. Whistler Kids has three bases in the resort.
If you are working at the Creekside base, you will need to get a bus from Whistler Village each day. The bus takes 10 minutes and the cost of the monthly pass is approximately $70.
Our participants live in staff housing on the side of Blackcomb Mountain, referred to as ‘HOUSE’. There will be 4 of you living in a small apartment (usually with other Oyster people).
Each apartment has 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. You will be sharing a room with bunk-beds. On each floor of the building there are about 10 apartments. The Oyster group all live together in the one building which means you get to know everyone in the group really well.
The cost of the accommodation comes directly off of your pay cheque and equates to approximately an hours pay per day (around $12 per night).
Your accommodation is self catered so, for the majority of time, you will be cooking for yourself. This is far cheaper than eating out every night! There are supermarkets in the village where you can stock up.
When you are working, you will be entitled to a meal at lunch time. This usually consists of a soup, main meal (pizza, pasta, hot dog, chips etc) and dessert (cookies, jelly, cake etc).
If you are feeling flush, or it’s a special occasion, there are plenty of places in Whistler to eat out with something for every appetite. Expect to pay C$13-20 for a main meal.
There is a very good staff deal that people tend to take advantage of a couple of times a week at a restaurant close to the staff accommodation. For $7 you can get a 3-course meal!
WiFi is included in your rent and each apartment has its own broadband connection.
Pretty much all public spaces in Whistler offer free WiFi from pubs to cafes and restaurants. Even the lift stations have WiFi!
NB: If you are keen to take a laptop with you, you should be aware that most insurance companies will not insure it.
You should take an ‘unlocked’ mobile phone with you to Canada (or you can buy a cheap Canadian one) and purchase a local ‘pay as you go’ SIM card. This is useful for contacting the representative and the rest of the group as local calls are very cheap.
Expect to pay around $40 per month for your mobile/cell contract. No need to waste money on a data plan as the WiFi is accessible all over. All you need is a deal with inclusive minutes and texts.
You can buy international phone cards to call the UK for $10+tax from any supermarket/phone shop this will give you hundreds of minutes to use any way you like, including calling the UK.
You will need a phone as part of your job.
Whistler is in the West of Canada, on Pacific Standard Time and is 8 hours behind GMT (GMT -8).
Canada, like the US, operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power. You should bring an adapter with you that has a two pronged (flat) plug.
Most people use their days off to take advantage of their free ski pass and hit the slopes.
There is plenty to do in Whistler besides skiing and snowboarding. ZipTrek is an educational tour of Whistler’s coastal temperate rainforest that lasts for approximately 3 hours. You learn you all about sustainability and conservation as well as ‘zip lining’ along a number of wires that cross the Fitzsimmons Creek. This is an exhilarating thrill, hurtling across the rainforest at tremendous speeds! We include a ZipTrek tour during our orientation.
Further afield, Vancouver is 2 hours bus ride from Whistler and you can head there to shop or to watch an ice hockey match. There are usually good discounts available for staff, and sometimes free, coaches to Vancouver.
Working in a ski resort means that the hours you work are dictated by the weather and the number of tourists that are on holiday there. During the peak seasons (Christmas, New Year, and school holidays) you could be working 5 or 6 days a week but then in quieter periods this might reduce to 3-5 days a week.
The drinking age in British Columbia is 19.
As an employee at the resort, you will get very good rates on equipment and food at selected outlets. For example, 50% off food in some restaurants and 20% off general ski gear.
You will get to know our representative well in the first few days as they help you settle into life in Canada. You will go through an induction that involves a tour of the resort, assistance with setting up Social Insurance Numbers, bank accounts and mobile phones. You will also be introduced to your employer.
Once you start work, the representative takes more of a back seat role but is there as a helpful friend should you need assistance. Once a month, they will run a meet up with you and the rest of the group. Day to day, you will be under the supervision of your manager and supervisor at work.
Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are on our programme. This will start from the moment you are picked up from the airport until the end date of the programme, when you will make your own way back to the airport. If you are arranging your own flights and arriving earlier or later than the rest of the group on arrival day, you will be responsible for getting yourself to the hostel in Vancouver where you will meet the rest of the group.
Before and after the Oyster programme, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk. This is also true if you choose to get involved in activities during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this.
Although we are keen to send as many participants as possible this winter, the pandemic has of course brought some uncertainty as to how travel will unfold over the next couple of months.
Here at Oyster, we prioritise managing expectations alongside providing life changing experiences. As things currently stand, it is still unclear as to whether the 20 / 21 ski season will be fully “back to normal”, and it is unknown as to quite how quickly tourism will recover. As the vaccine programmes unfold and clarity resumes on international travel, decisions will be made regarding the staffing levels required on the ski slopes.
We’re very hopeful that we will be about to place all applicants, however, we have taken the decision to accept no further bookings for the Whistler instructor programmes at this stage. Instead, we are inviting you to join our waiting list to be considered top priority for a ski instructor job when we know more. By completing an application form and deposit, we’ll still be able to get the ball rolling by providing you with all the assistance you need in familiarising yourself with the programme, obtaining your work permit and understanding the job role provided. This is so that you will be 100% ready to go when the time comes.
We are committed to providing Oyster participants with an amazing experience, wherever that may be. For this reason, we are asking participants to consider a preference list of programmes should we not be able to deliver on your first choice. If for any Covid-related reason your first choice cannot go ahead, we will endeavour to place you in one of your back up choices. Please see the list of alternative ski season options below:
- Canada hospitality work in Whistler, the Rockies or Tremblant
- Ski or snowboard instructor courses in Whistler
- Ski instructor course and work in Austria
Alternatively, we could offer you any other fantastic Oyster project and your deposit will be transferred. Popular options that skiers have taken in the past include:
- Sports coaching in South Africa
- Paid work in Outback Australia
- Horsemanship course and paid work in Australia
We look forward to providing you with an exciting gap year experience so please get in contact if you have any questions with regard to these programmes.
Tips on buying ski gear in Whistler
Have friends or family visiting? Check out our guide on where to stay in Whistler
Check out our top tips for first time skiers and snowboarders
Check out our pick of the 21 best places to ski in the world