Action County: Jason Oliver
When Jason Oliver moved to Breckenridge 18 months ago, he was in search of an outdoor lifestyle while running from the doldrums of the 9-5 work day. It’s been a Summit success story so far. After getting a job as a ski rental tech with Blue River Sports, Oliver learned of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC). As a BOEC volunteer ski instructor through most of last season and all of this season, and an intern in the summer, the 23-year-old North Carolina State graduate has found a source of constant joy and inspiration.In the BOEC’s adaptive ski program, instructors such as Oliver teach people with disabilities and special needs how to do most snow sports, including alpine skiing, cross country skiing and snowboarding. “At most jobs in this town, you’d usually be catering to someone on a normal ski vacation,” Oliver said. “Here we work with people that look forward to coming here all year. For some people it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
When he’s not at the ski shop or volunteering on the mountain, Oliver continues to fit in with the active local community in his free time. In January’s Swift Skedaddle snowshoe race, Oliver qualified for the national snowshoe championship in Anchorage, Alaska, but won’t be able to compete in the big race in March due to his busy schedule.Oliver also keeps from getting bored by donating his time at the Frisco animal shelter. Oliver helps walk the dogs and gives good company to the homeless cats.Oliver says he’s not “stuck” here. He loves what he’s doing now, and doesn’t feel the pressure to return to a “real” job or enter graduate school just for the sake of it. “I’m going to do whatever’s going to be the most fun,” Oliver said.
What is your most memorable experience with the BOEC so far?”With one lady that had no feeling below her waist, we were trying to summit a climbing wall last summer. She was climbing with her arms, while I was supporting her legs. Everyone was cheering her on. It took us 25 minutes to summit the wall. When we got back down, we collapsed on the ground in tears. “It can get so intimate when you’re progressing with them every step of the way. You’re totally invested in the activity.”
Are there rewards from working at the BOEC on a daily basis?”Today (Friday) is an easy day for us, but one guy is on a monoski and is on his last day of the trip so he told us he wanted to have a safe day with no chance to get hurt. We told him we would check out some new terrain over on the rollers on peak 7. He was having so much fun. We totally made his day. It was great to see how happy he was to get up on the hill again.”Who are your favorite people to teach?”I love working with the people with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). The people are cognitively aware, and they can voice positive feelings in a way we are familiar with. They might be sitting in a chair doing nothing for so long. We show them they can do something more, then when they go back home they’re inspired to be more active.”
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