By Mark Brown, Co-Executive Director (

It wasn’t a typical national level ski patrol meeting. No long PowerPoint presentations acting as sleep aids, no tablets were brought down from the mountain. No straight rows of chairs, just piles of chairs. Meetings started promptly at 12 minutes past the hour or half hour, or whenever it was decided, but promptly. An unpredictable environment was created, just like patrolling, to get people thinking about challenges, changes, and outcomes for the Canadian Ski Patrol. Just like patrollers do on the hill or the road, when faced with the unpredictable, they rose to the occasion.

Superbly lead by moderators Marielle Flottat, Jean Côté, Eleanor Culver, Elizabeth Oldfield and assisted by Jodi-Marc Lalonde, patrollers from every province and territory where we patrol came together to raise questions and discuss answers. In-session meals were generously provided by Calgary Zone and Mountain Division.

The World Café on Saturday created a series of four questions:

  • How do we confirm operational patrollers are competent/qualified in first aid skills?
  • As a patroller, or new patroller, what is the best way to integrate classroom sessions and your resort operations to feel confident?
  • What does our training need to develop competent and qualified patrollers with respect to resort needs, and
  • What changes (in addition to current initiatives) can the CSP’s training and development program make to create positive experiences for all those involved (patrollers and Instructors)?

Then, in a free-flowing session, patrollers were asked to provide answers to the questions.

The following open space workshop focused on areas within the CSP to improve, and again participants created solutions and direction. Topics and recommendations included:

  • How do we meet resort needs?
  • Evolve e-Learning.
  • Evolution from on-snow to on patrol.
  • More engagement in on-snow programs.
  • How do we operationalize change without killing our people?
  • Outcome-based evaluation.
  • Prevention of second injury.
  • How do we support training in small zones?

Challenges were also identified, including:

  • Communication across zones
  • Enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the CSP.
  • How do we improve communication between zones?
  • Instructor training/retention course/recruitment.
  • Instructor toolbox.
  • Repetition.
  • How do we ensure we have fun?

Finally, participants were tasked with creating a 90-second video promoting their proposed solutions to the challenges. Videos were reviewed in the “hack-A-Dragon’s-Den-Athon” as a group and voted upon. Popcorn was available in plentiful amounts.

Participants left the symposium on Sunday, with 93 per cent feeling excited or very excited about the possibilities for the next steps in modernization.

The raw data, including the various polls taken during the event, will be posted for members to review. The location will be announced via zone presidents.

So what are the next steps? Changing our instructional model to outcome-based learning has already started with our instructors. To support this, we need to modify our manual to reflect this critical thinking and move away from rote learning.

Our e-learning system or learning management system (LMS) also needs to be enhanced to support scenario- and outcome-based learning. Improved zone communications requires further needs definition by zones. Operationalizing this entire project needs some thought at all steps of the process.

On June 19, the national board of directors approved a motion instructing the co-executive directors to prepare and issue requests for quotations for key components of the modernization of the CSP. Some of the solutions are best developed and implemented at the division or zone level. The CSP nationally can and will help facilitate this. We’re going to need some help to get this done, financially and in terms of volunteer time.

The board also directed the co-executive directors to prepare a road map through all the data. That will be subject of another article.

Modernization Symposium, May 5 – 7, 2023

This post is also available in: French