During the first two summers between my first three ski seasons, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor in the UK. These summers were great; I made loads of friends, some of whom I am still friends with to this day. I started to know what kind of job I enjoyed; working in the outdoors; working with children and working as a part of a team. I also started to get an understanding of what a “normal-ish” job was like in the UK.
By ‘normal’, I mean a job in the UK where I get hours back for working over my set amount. This is different to a ski season where you don’t get time back no matter how many hours you work. Typically as a customer services rep on ski season I would work around 60 hours each week. However my longest day was 21 hours on my final ski season but that’s a story for another time. My working hours in the summers varied depending on what I was doing. There were two main jobs I did, an activity instructor and a group leader. As an instructor I worked 8.30-12.00 and then 13.45-17.30 and as a group leader (groupie) I worked 7.30-9.00, then 12.00-14.00 and then 17.00-21.15. These were both 6 days a week, and there was no telling which day you would have off until the rota came up.
As an instructor I had to achieve qualifications to be able to run the sessions. I started with ground sessions, my first couple of sessions were problem solving, orienteering and archery. I enjoyed all three but sometimes I would do one of the activities all the time. It was much more enjoyable when there was variety.
Later in my training I managed to get my qualifications for a rope session. Rope sessions, included trapeze, climbing walls, abseiling, high ropes, jacobs ladder, ‘all aboard’, vertical challenge, giant swing and zip wiring. The aim for the first rope qualification is to achieve ‘Ground up 1′(GU1). With the GU1 qualification you can run any climbing rope session with one rope…self explanatory really. With this you can competently run the trapeze and dual instructor climbing (wall) activities.
Being a ‘groupie’
Before I got my first rope I became a groupie. (Yippee!) The role of the groupie is to ensure the groups are where they are meant to be for all of their meal times and activities (quite the challenge when you have a large group of energetic children!). The groupie also needs a whole host of games and songs that will entertain a range of aged children who can be quickly become bored.
Being a groupie was always my favourite part of the role, partly due to the fact you can have a nap while the group are away on sessions, an art I am proud to have almost perfected. You also get more time with the children and staff so you have the opportunity of getting to know them better. The other part that was great fun, were the evening activities where I would often get the chance to dress up in animal onesies or like a pumpkin at Halloween, the perfect job for me!