Volunteer for ARISE & Ski

Do you have a family member or friend who has a disability and you want to ski with them? Do you want to help someone experience the thrill of winter sports?

How do I become a volunteer?

Volunteers will need to submit a Volunteer Application that includes a background check, confidentiality statement, and rental form (if needed). Volunteers are required to participate in training both on and off the mountain prior to the official start of the ARISE & Ski season.


Mary Schwanke

Manager of Respite and Family Support Services


635 James Street

Syracuse, NY 13203

(315) 671-3092

What are the benefits of volunteering through ARISE & Ski?

Our ARISE & Ski program is a great volunteer opportunity. In addition to helping a person learn to ski, many of our volunteers have also formed lasting bonds and friendships with their students as well as with other volunteers. 

What kinds of volunteer opportunities are there?

While we always need good strong athletes to help with sit down equipment on the main hill, we can use volunteers of all levels to help in the program. Even if you have no interest in working on the hill, we can always use people to help with photography, equipment maintenance and lodge attendants.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and a volunteer application, Confidentially Statement, and a background check are required for all volunteers. Any volunteer who needs rentals are also required to fill out the rental form.

Will I receive training?

Yes, all training is run by certified PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) staff who have years of snow sports instruction experience. Our Education Staff will make sure that you have the skills that you need to be a successful volunteer.

How will I know what to do?

We will provide training both on the hill and on dry land.

Where do I get the equipment?

You will get the equipment at the rental or shed.

Who is in charge of the lesson?

A veteran volunteer will always act as lead instructor – on rare occasions when we are short of volunteers you may actually – even as a newbie – have to step up and be the lead. However, Education Staff will always be present to assist you.

How many volunteers work with each student?

Depending on the lesson, we try to have at least a 2 to 1 ratio of instructors to students (with bi skis we generally have a 3 to 1 ratio).

What do I do if I have a problem on the hill?

Immediately flag an Education Staff or Ski Patrol, come in, and ask for help.

What kind of disabilities do the students have?

Over the years we have worked with students who have a variety of disabilities including Down’s syndrome, Autism, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, visual impairments, Lowe syndrome, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.

If I am uncomfortable with my student can I switch?

Education Staff is always available to work with you and the student. In an effort to make the pairing advantageous for all concerned – we would want to explore where this discomfort comes from and how we might make the situation better. These are always teachable moments. One should expect some discomfort when meeting a new person you have no experience working with.

What is a blocker?

This is a term we use to describe a volunteer whose function is to ski above and behind the team working with a student using a bi ski or mono ski or some other piece of adaptive equipment that might be vulnerable to the skiing public.

What if I have a problem with the equipment the student is using?

If it is a problem with your own skis or rental skis – have a ski technician look at them. If it is part of ARISE & Ski adaptive equipment, contact an on hill Education Staff.

What if the student shows up inappropriately dressed for the day?

We have some gear we might be able to lend – lost and found sometimes comes in handy and we should always work to inform our students about what they need for cold days, wet days, etc.

How long do I need to volunteer for?

In addition to trainings, volunteers are required to volunteer for two hours per week for at least five of the six weeks.

What time do I have to be there?

Volunteers must be ready to work by appointed hour.

What if I can’t make it to training?

If you do not complete the training sessions, you will not be able to volunteer. Training sessions are mandatory.

What are my responsibilities as a volunteer?

We expect you to:

  • be on time for all trainings and lesson sessions that you are assigned to
  • treat everyone with dignity and respect
  • complete all appropriate volunteer paperwork on time
  • make certain that notes on the lesson session are completed immediately after each session
  • ask questions and act responsibly, safely, and creatively to provide a fun, safe, and educational experience for the student

What do I do if I can’t make it one week?

Notify the program director by phone, email, or Facebook as soon as you know that you will not be able to be there.

What if I already know who I want to teach or volunteer with?

While we appreciate the relationships that volunteers have with each other and with students, we can not always promise that you will be able to ski with a specific person. In an effort to make sure that everyone involved in ARISE & Ski is safe and has fun, we pair instructors and students up based on skills, experience, and ability. We will try to accommodate volunteer and student requests, but if we do not feel that it will be conducive to the learning environment we will make appropriate adjustments.

I want to ski with my own child, can I do this?

This is dependent on the goals of the family and the student. While we encourage families to learn to ski with each other, there may be times when the training staff of ARISE & Ski may suggest alternative teaching situations.

How do we know who we will work with?

Education Staff will use a matching process largely based on history, paperwork,  and our knowledge of volunteer capabilities and student needs. We will get this information out to you soon as we know.

Will I be alone?

This is very unlikely – it is dependent on each volunteer’s personal skills and comfort level.

What if my student has a fall / accident on the slopes?

There is a procedure in place to contact the ski patrol and make certain that the student or injured person is warm and safe. DO NOT attempt to remove individual’s boots or skis. Keep the individual safe and still until the ski patrol arrives. Education Staff will be on the slope and they can help. Usually if you set up a pair of crossed skis above the injured person the ski patrol will see this and come to help. Lift operators can contact patrol as well as you go to the patrol room yourself which is at the far south end of the lodge.

If I have extra equipment should I bring it?

Depends on the condition of the equipment. Either way, we do not loan out equipment to students that hasn’t been checked and fitted by a technician and we suggest against lending to other volunteers without a technician’s assistance.

Is there any cost involved for me as a volunteer?

Gas – Food – Gear for your personal use.