PSIA-AASI’S New Vision Statement Embraces Adventures Through Education

By Ed Younglove, PSIA-AASI Board Chair

PSIA-AASI begins the 2017-18 season with a new vision for the organization: “Create Lifelong Adventures Through Education” This is my story of the vision’s creation, and what I believe it represents.

As part of last October’s Fall Conference, PSIA-AASI’s volunteer leadership held a summit to develop better working relationships throughout the organization, and with member schools and resorts. One strategic initiative everyone agreed on was for the division presidents and the national chair to collaborate on creating a new vision for PSIA-AASI. Unification behind a common vision is an important component of better collaboration, both symbolically and as a reflection of common purpose.

I think there’s general agreement about what an organization’s vision statement should be. It should help us envision, through words, the ideal that the organization wishes to achieve. An effective vision statement is both inspirational and aspirational. It should inspire each of us to rise to meet challenges the organization may face in accomplishing its goals.

Your Educational Experience Beyond the Slopes
In collaborating on this comprehensive vision statement, PSIA-AASI affirms its commitment to helping members provide meaningful experiences for their students. And it doesn’t stop with students; we’re also intent on nurturing your lifelong adventures through education.

After all, PSIA-AASI is committed to promoting professional development through education. Since it’s our core purpose, education clearly needs to be part of the vision expression.

One issue we considered was whether to limit our vision to snowsports education. In the end, we didn’t. Each of us likely had our own reasons for not doing so. Some saw a future for the organization that might involve teaching activities other than on snow, such as downhill mountain biking.

Personally, I considered how broad our educational offerings are, and how much we borrow from general education tenets, e.g. Maslow’s Hierarchy, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, etc. The things I’ve learned through PSIA-AASI have positively impacted my career as a lawyer and my understanding of how people learn, not just my snowsports teaching. I felt education should have no limits, and while we use our education to teach snowsports, we also use it in so many other aspects of life.

Lately, there’s been much emphasis on experiential learning. I will confess that when I was first introduced to the American Teaching System, which included the assertion that our approach to learning was “experiential,” I read it as “experimental.” (Maybe you can gain some insight into my “doer” learning preference in that misread.) We teach physical activities, where the physical experience is a key to learning. I’m reminded of what Eleanor Roosevelt said about the role of experiences in our lives: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

We’re Adventure Guides…And Seekers
In crafting a new vision statement, we searched for an expression that captured the physicality and the development involved in learning and sharing the snowsports experience, and ultimately in helping others seek new experiences without fear. The word “Adventure” seemed the best fit because it so perfectly conveys an exciting or remarkable experience. Adventures can also involve what some perceive as an alluring degree of danger and unknown risk. Adventure is the essence of what I love about skiing and riding, and the whole mountain experience.

Sliding down a snow-covered slope is certainly exciting, more so than many activities. Increase speed, slope angle, or snow depth; add a few trees, a mogul field, or maybe some terrain park features and the excitement factor increases. (And, for some, even doing the same run over and over again, but with a new line or newly learned tactic, can move the needle on the “wow” meter.) Exploring new terrain, changed conditions, or new movements increases the chances of encountering the unknown. In short, we, and our students, are off on an adventure that snowsports education helps prepare both of us for.

In Our Vision, a Sense of, “Wow, What a Ride!’
The thrill of experiencing and overcoming new challenges keeps us engaged and feeling alive. Or, as Hunter S. Thompson famously said: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!”

Our students want to experience new thrills and overcome challenges. And, nothing breeds the confidence to try new challenges and start new adventures without fear like success. Ultimately, we hope that education will lead our students, and us, through adventures involving skiing and riding that are lifelong, even generational. What better legacy than to create the feeling that life is a great ride!