What Makes The North Okanagan Program so Successful?

    April 15, 2004

    What makes this program so successful…?

    In 1997/98 the North Okanagan Cross Country Ski Club, working in partnership with the
    Vernon School District, introduced a "School Ski" program for grade 4/5 students.  There were 200 participants from six schools in the program that year.  Last winter 500 students from ten schools participated, and organizers are anticipating 750 participants next season. 

    What is it that is making this program so successful?

    First, there is a partnership between the school district and the local cross country ski club. The club provided the funds ($5000.00) to purchase the initial 35 sets of good quality ski equipment (skis, boots and poles) and then donated them to the school district.  In addition, the club provides the ski facility, instructors/coaches and storage for the equipment.  The school district is responsible for the organization and scheduling of various schools, transportation to/from the ski area, and the distribution, maintenance and care of the equipment.

    Second, the program is set up to ensure those all-important basics are in place to provide a positive ski experience for the students, ie. access to good facilities, qualified instructors/coaches, appropriate equipment, and minimum cost to the student..

    Third, there is a well thought through operating plan.  This is how it works!  The School Ski package offers four visits per school group per season, with two hours on snow each visit.  The school brings the same group of 30 children to all four sessions, so that each child receives a total of eight hours of on-snow time.  Each session offers one hour of instruction and one hour of free time exploring the ‘adventure trails’ and other ski discovery opportunities available at the ski area. 

    Sovereign Lake Nordic School, which operates under the umbrella of the club, is responsible for teaching the sessions.  A total of six qualified coaches/instructors are required to support a School Ski program with 500 students.   Six instructors teach each day (two instructors for every ten students).  Instructors are required to have a minimum of NCCP Level 1 Technical training, and receive $10.00 per hour ($40.00 per day).  Sessions run from 9:30 am to 11:30 am, and 11:30 am to 1:30 pm five days a week, January, February and March.  Two school groups can be accommodated on the same day in quick succession because the school district purchased 35 additional sets of boots last year, allowing the students from both groups to be fitted with boots at their respective schools.   The only equipment exchange between Groups #1 and #2 at the ski area are the ski poles and skis. 

    The fee per student for the School Ski ‘package’ was $40.00, but this will increase next year to $48.00 ($12.00 per session per student).  The breakdown is $2.00 (trail fee); $5.00 (bus transportation); $2.00 (ski replacement fund), and $3.00 (ski lesson).

    The club offers a well organized skill development program for students that develop an interest in cross country skiing as a result of this exposure to the sport.  They also offer a successful Junior Racing Program. 

    The club’s next initiative in support of this project is to set up a ski rental shop at their daylodge.  This will allow parents accompanying the students to the ski area to try cross country skiing themselves while their children are taking part in the sessions,

    For additional information contact June Hawkins at (250) 545-0752, or [email protected].