Yesterday, Monday April 21, 2014 marked the first day of classes for the Whistler Adventure School (WAS), a new career training facility with courses designed for life in Whistler and a career in the mountains.
“We wanted to bring professional development opportunities to Whistler locals,” says operations manager Eric Hughes. “As well as bringing students from around the world to study in Whistler while they ski and ride the Coast Mountains.”
Whistler’s first career training center is housed in a freshly-renovated workshop in Function Junction with a state-of-the-art media lab upstairs. The school offers a number of seasonal courses organized into three categories: Adventure Guide, Media/Marketing, and Retail/Manufacturing.
“This week we’re starting off with a 4-week Bicycle Mechanic course and a Social Media course,” Eric says. “Our Rock Guiding program starts in June and in the fall we’ll start Ski Construction, Tuning, Boot Fitting and Winter Guiding curriculums.”
As a community, Whistler has been toying with the idea of higher education for a number of years but the Whistler Adventure School seems to be the first to figure out how to do it right. “We’re starting small and offering classes in the evenings,” Eric explains, “so people can ride or work during the day.”
WAS is registered with British Columbia’s Private Career Training Institutions Agency and graduates of each course will receive industry-recognized certification tickets. Class sizes are small and the WAS faculty list reads like a local all-star team.
“All our instructors are from the Sea to Sky area, there is such an amazing talent pool here to draw on,” Eric says. “As well the mountains and backcountry here are world-class, there is a huge amount of outdoor media already in town, and we have these amazing events almost every weekend year-round. We can teach people how to shoot photos of everything from bobsleigh to ski racing to a huge concert or culinary event like Cornucopia without ever leaving the valley. There are so many diverse opportunities to learn here.”
A hands-on trade school like the WAS will be a huge asset for Whistler locals looking to turn the lifestyle we all love so much into a sustaining career but for young mountain lovers from afar it should help in convincing the parents that a “single season” in Whistler is really the best life decision ever— “Of course I’ll be riding every day mom but I’ll also be getting my Bicycle Mechanic ticket and learning a trade I can bank on for the rest of my life. In the winter I can be a boot fitter.. Come on mom, I’ll only be gone for one year, I promise….”