Spring volunteer training focuses on activity and relational skills

Towering trees and calm waves line the route heading out to Cates Park near beautiful Deep Cove. It’s a warm, June evening and pulling into the parking lot you can see a group of Power To Be staff and volunteers laughing and catching up. The group circles up for a rundown on what the evening’s volunteer training holds before breaking out to move kayaks and bins of adaptive equipment.

It’s spring volunteer training and the air teems with voices as staff guide the training and volunteers share stories of what they’ve seen work in the past and ask questions about making these activities accessible. Designed to brush up on everyone’s skills before heading into the summer season, volunteer training is the main training initiative of the year, held separately in Vancouver and Victoria. Tonight’s session is one of four evening trainings; with topics such as TrailRider technique, paddling skills, adaptive equipment overview and relational skills there are a wide range of topics providing an opportunity for volunteers to learn and share.

Volunteers come to Power To Be with diverse experiences and passions, but they all share a love for nature and a heart for inclusion. When chatting about volunteer training, volunteer Rik remarked, “It brings it all together quite nicely, everyone brings something different.” As longtime volunteers show some new recruits how to properly strap the kayaks to transfer wheels, staff start putting together piles of pool noodles, fleece jackets, and PFDs. You never know what you’ll need to make an adventure accessible for someone and creativity is key when your goal is to get everyone out in nature.

Investing in volunteers is a clear choice for Power To Be. With more than 6,600 hours contributed in 2017, volunteers make it possible to provide more than 400 programs a year for participants. Rik noted how practical the trainings are, saying he finds himself applying the knowledge he gains to the next program he is on. These training nights not only supply volunteers with information to help them support on program, but also strengthen the incredible community our volunteers help create. “It’s great to spend time on the water with other volunteers. It helps you feel connected to the bigger organization,” adds volunteer Lisa.

As the evening wraps up, volunteers and staff come back together to talk about what they learned. “I’ve been kayaking my whole life and I’ve never seen that kind of accessibility in action,” Lisa says. Several volunteers mention the collaborative nature of the training as a highlight and talk about how spending time with some of the people they’ve crossed paths with on their volunteer journey can change their day for the better.

After all the paddles, transfer benches, and pontoons are put away, the group breaks off in pairs and clusters to head their separate ways. As they go, volunteers chat about the summer ahead and when they might see each other again.

Driving back along those same tall trees and calm waves, you can’t help but feel some of that particular blend of joy, adventure, and connection you find in every Power To Be program. Volunteer spring training may be over for the year, but the learning and community fostered here will grow and spread until next spring, when groups of volunteers return to prepare for another year supporting some incredible adventures in nature.

From all of us at Power To Be, thank you to our volunteers in Vancouver and Victoria who joined us for this year’s training opportunities, and to all of those who will support our programs and operations this year. Inclusive adventures in nature are possible in large part because of you!