On December 16, 2017, SheJumps Wild Skills hosted Junior Ski Patrol at Crystal Mountain — a day camp where girls learned mountain safety and first aid while working with the strong women of the ski patrol community and SheJumps volunteers.
Throughout the day, participants were taught a range of outdoor skills that are utilized by ski patrollers to keep the mountain safe. Topics included first aid, avalanche control, snow science, weather stations, toboggans, avalanche rescue techniques, avalanche dogs and much more. There was also plenty of snack breaks, high fives and unicorns delivering hot cocoa!
SheJumps is a national non-profit with the mission of creating opportunities for women and girls in the outdoors. In 2017, SheJumps celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary and 10,000 opportunities created. The organization is run by a small staff and 75 volunteer ambassadors, coordinators and directors and events take place all over the country. SheJumps vision is to be the leading low and no cost outdoor education provider for women and girls. SheJumps does it all do it all: from teaching women how to snowshoe to ski mountaineering techniques to avy education, fly fishing, and surfing, we operate in 14 states and last year had near 4,000 participants in our programs.
Wild Skills is another branch of the organization and is a free day program for girls aged 7-16. The mission of Wild Skills is to provide a learning experience that creates a fun filled entry into the outdoors. Girls learn navigation, first aid, shelter building and leave no trace. Our horizon now is focused on increasing diversity in our programs. We are the recent recipient of the REI Force of Nature $25,000 grant and are using the money to pilot an outdoor ed/mentorship program for immigrant and refugee girls under 18 in the Salt Lake area.
In December SheJumps launched it’s newest Wild Skills Program- The Junior Ski PatrolThe day started at 9:30am with registration, meeting team members, filling our pockets with snacks and making Junior Ski Patroller cards. Teams consisted of 8 participants, 3 SheJumps volunteers and 1 Crystal Mountain pro patroller.
At 10 a.m., the teams headed to ski patrol headquarters located at the base of Crystal Mountain. We entered in through the ‘Ski Patrol Only’ entrance and cozied up in the patrol locker room for a briefing by ski patrol director, Kim Kircher. Kim talked about what ski patrol does, how they educate the community, the skier’s responsibility code and more. After a Q & A, teams toured the aid room and witnessed patrollers in action as a skier was cared for.
By 10:30am, Teams Blue & Orange were headed to the summit and Teams Purple & Green over to Campbell Basin. All teams started the morning station set with First Aid which was housed in tents provided by our generous partner, Big Agnes. Patrollers led demonstrations in prevention and care of injuries – role playing situations which included making splints and stopping bleeding. A big thank you to our program partner, Adventure Medical Kits for providing all the gear needed in order to create this part of the event. Also, for giving each participant a first aid kit & emergency blanket!
Next up, teams learned about snowmobiles, toboggans and why patrollers cache gear on the mountain. This station set included finding caches and learning how to load & maneuver the toboggans. Many girls said driving and riding in the toboggans was their favorite part of the day!
Lunch was included in this event and consisted of everyone’s favorite: PIZZA! Crystal Mountain recently installed a wood fire pizza oven in Campbell Basin Lodge and OH is it amazing! Our crew annihilated 12 large pizzas and 2 giant bowls of pasta before heading back out into the snow.
After lunch, each team was greeted by a unicorn carrying avalanche beacons, probes and shovels. The unicorns gave instructions about the Buried Treasure Hunt and patrollers lead the team in how to properly conduct a search. SheJumps strongly believes in education and fun – our events blend both of these elements to make for the safest and most entertaining adventure possible. After tracking down the buried treasure each team uncovered their booty: a BCA beacon & box full of donut holes. Special thanks to Backcountry Access (BCA) for providing all the beacons, probes, shovels, slope meters and crystal cards for this event.
Once the girls had their fill of donuts, all teams hiked thru the trees into a secluded area of Campbell Basin. This was a challenge for some of the girls who have never done this level of side stepping and technical skiing/snowboarding. Yet all made it and were greeted by enthusiastic high fives. After all were settled into the snow, Kim Haft led a presentation on the avalanche dog program at Crystal Mountain sharing many interesting aspects about the dogs such as how they are trained and how the dogs like to spend their summer vacations.
Once Kim was done answering questions, we turned our attention to Christina Hale & Kala who were located on the slope above us. Everyone sat in silence as Kala charged across the hill searching out the scent. In seconds she’d found it and began frantically digging – pulling up the sweater that had been buried earlier that day. Christina loudly praised Kala as did the rest of us – it was quite the sight!
The afternoon station sets included touring the weather stations and avalanche prevention. At the weather stations, teams learned how data is gathered and how to find & read weather reports. This station also included lessons on snow crystals and the science behind them.
The avalanche prevention set included seeing the different control routes at Crystal Mountain as well as stories of past avalanches. Teams discussed terrain assessment, the human factor and the importance of making good decisions.
At 3:30pm, all teams gathered for wrap up which included certificates for completing the day and a sweet swag bag filled with a watertight first aid kit from Adventure Medical Kits, SheJumps lip balm by EcoLips, and Clif bar notebook.
The goal of SheJumps Wild Skills is to see girls learning, having fun and connecting in an encouraging environment with amazing instruction and support from female mentors. We want Wild Skills to be an experience they will remember, one that will spark a lifetime of passion for the outdoors and will remind them that they are capable of anything. Giving participants, young and old, the opportunity to learn skills in a fun yet challenging setting develops perseverance and fosters confidence.