Skip To Main Content

Life at Rocky Mountain Adaptive

A Practicum Perspective

Life at Rocky Mountain Adaptive

By Justin Schlitt on June 8, 2021

When I thought about what I would be doing this summer, I never would have imagined getting to spend it playing outside in the Rocky Mountains. Yet, as luck would have it, I find myself in the beautiful Bow Valley and have the pleasure of being the first summer intern to work with Rocky Mountain Adaptive from Bishop’s University. My name is Justin, and I am an education student. My school is a small university located in the Eastern Townships of Quebec that is over 175 years old. Surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful rivers, the quaint little campus is sometimes referred to as Oxford on the Massawippi.

Being such a small school, community becomes very important. Everyone knows everyone and we all bleed purple. As a result, it wasn’t all that surprising when I heard that Marie Olney, alumni from Bishop’s and active volunteer at RMA wanted to start an internship program and bring together these two amazing communities. It is thanks to the generous donations made by Marie and her lovely family that I now get to spend my summer paddling, hiking and cycling…for work! I hope payroll does not read this because if they knew how much fun I was having, they may never pay me. All jokes aside, it really has been a pleasure to work at RMA so far and, if you will permit me to indulge myself, I would like to share a few of the things about my experience so far.

Mountain lake in the foreground with mountains and forest behind

Meeting and working with the wonderful team has been such a pleasure. How often is it that you find yourself among people completely dedicated to a goal, who are more concerned with solutions than problems, and who consistently go above and beyond to make sure everyone feels welcome? Well, I am happy to say that has been my experience starting at RMA.

For example, I had the chance to lend a hand at this year’s ParticipAction Try It Camp where a bunch of people of all ages came out to try out some of our activities. Despite it being the first few days of the brutal heatwave, the whole team seemed to have nothing on their mind except making the experience fun and memorable for each participant.

Despite the scorching heat and long hours, the whole team remained committed to making the day great. As a newbie, being in such a company is inspiring and makes it impossible to not give everything I can.

3 kayakers facing away from the camera paddle out in the aqua marine lake

The Volunteers: what a crew! While I haven’t had the chance to meet everyone, it has been a privilege to meet and work with those that I have. I have been so impressed by the enthusiasm and energy each volunteer brings to every activity. What’s more, whether it be by helping explain the wonders of nature, motivating both participants and staff to reach new limits or by showing such sincere care and being present and pleasant every step of the journey, all the volunteers have brought unique and insightful touches to each outing. I find it great to see all sorts of people offering their time and energy to make sports inclusive and fun for everyone. Just like with the full-time staff, they have really pushed me to try and give my all each and every day and I absolutely look forward to meeting all the other volunteers to learn, explore and enjoy the mountains.

The Participants: Perhaps the best part of this experience has been working with the participants. Each activity, whatever it may be, always leaves me smiling to myself, and not only because I get to be outside all day. I have found that experiencing the mountains with such great company has really reshaped how I view outdoor sports. I find myself enjoying every moment in ways I may have overlooked in the past. Whether it be hiking with younger participants, new to outdoor sports or biking with older members who know more about the area than I could ever learn by myself in summer, I always find myself learning something new. As someone not from the mountains, it has been a privilege to discover a side of this great country with people equally keen.

So, with all that being said, I guess there is only one thing left to say: thank you. Thank you to the amazing team for showing me the ropes and making me feel so welcome, thank you to the volunteers for sharing their time and wisdom, thank you to Marie Olney, alumni of the greatest school in the world, for making this summer possible and thank you to the amazing participants who have trusted me enough to let me be a part of their summer activities.

In short, thank you to everyone in the wonderful community for making me feel so welcome and for giving me a chance to contribute in my own way. To those I have had the chance to meet, it has been a pleasure. To those I have yet to meet, I look forward to working with you. And to everyone, I am so humbled by the amazing work you are doing. Hopefully, we will get to meet on a hike or paddle day, but until then, thank you and keep up the great work!

A child sits in a Bowhead Reach accompanied by an adult who walks besides

Inspired by this Story?

If this story has inspired you to get involved in adaptive sports, we have a large range of accessible adventures available to you.

Join In the Fun

Want to join the fun and give back? Volunteering with Rocky Mountain Adaptive is a great way to support your community while assisting others.

Struggling with Mental Health?

If you are struggling with mental health, there are many great resources in the Bow Valley. Please do not hesitate to reach out.

Make a Difference

You can make a difference to the growth of adaptive sports by donating to the Clairey Lou Memorial Fund & Matthew Hamer Legacy Fund. Thank you.

Rocky Mountain Adaptive Logo
We hoped you enjoyed this read. Get Social with us: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn