BOEC in the News

A Day in the Life of a BOEC Intern

Posted December 29, 2008 by tfc-control

By Caitlin Row
summit daily news
summit county, co colorado,

BRECKENRIDGE — When Englishman Dan Hallam left school eight years ago at 16, he fell straight into sailing instruction near his home. At 18, he went abroad to teach sailing and wind-surfing in Greece, Egypt and the Caribbean.

“School was never that much fun for me,” Hallam said. “I’m dyslexic so it was always quite hard to sit in a classroom and take in what they were saying. … I just found that the school environment didn’t suit the way I could learn.”

According to Hallam, sports kept him on track and helped him through school.

Because of his own struggles with dyslexia, he sees athletics as a method to help people overcome disabilities.

And when he lost his finger in a sailing accident, he decided to pursue outdoor education as a career.

Hallam, who’s originally from the London-area, is now a 24-year-old Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center intern.

He’s recently worked in the UK as a multi-activity instructor, teaching climbing, cycling and mountain biking, as well as other activities. But, when he found the BOEC intern program online, he jumped at the opportunity to work with special-needs clients.

“It’s something that’s always interested me,” Hallam said. “I’ve taught sailing and wind-surfing. … I wanted to come up with different ways to teach and to get everyone involved — including people with disabilities — in outdoor education and outdoor sports. Sports are a great way to get people working together. One of the things we’ve learned so far is how to overcome different situations. It will help me with any future job that I may have. Sort of being able to adapt.”

Hallam loves the work and hopes to be a full-time instructor with BOEC next year.
The BOEC relies on its interns for day-to-day aid. Sometimes interns live with a client(s) for up to a week, helping with everything from making breakfast,
getting them ready to go for the day, transportation, ski instruction, dinner, tidying up and evening entertainment.

“You stay the night and start again the next day,” he said of his experiences acting as a caretaker and an instructor for clients with disabilities.

On other days, interns can also be found working in the ski office in all capacities.

“The job is long hours, but it is so rewarding,” he said. “It’s physically demanding, but you feel like you’ve helped someone realize their potential.”

As an intern, Hallam lives in a house shared by 11 other interns. The BOEC provides food and shelter, but the internship is unpaid.

“It can be pretty tiring because people are in and out,” he said of the shared living space. “It is nice though to live with so many people because there’s always someone to talk to, someone to go mess about with.”

None of the interns have extra jobs. They work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., so savings is required to make the position work. Days off vary each week depending on need.

“It’s worth it, though,” Hallam said. “Just the training that we receive makes it worth it.”

BOEC interns spent the month of November training to be adaptive-ski instructors. Hallam has worked with both tethering and monoskiing.

“It was pretty intense,” he said of his training.

Now all 12 interns are full-fledged teachers who are available daily to help with lessons.

And all the interns — two Australians, nine Americans and Hallam — seem to want to follow the outdoor-education path, he said.

“So far, I have helped with people from London and from all over the country,” he said. “ … It keeps you on your toes, which is nice. Everyone gets such a different experience. Everyone takes away their own things. … It’s an eye-opening experience to the work, disabilities and what they can do.”

Hallam said the seasonal internship program is helpful because it teaches necessary problem-solving skills and versatility in the workforce.

“You get to help people do something that they never thought they could do,” he said. “You may be able to change their lives.”

The BOEC, a nonprofit educational organization, was established in Breckenridge in 1976 to provide outdoor experiences for people with disabilities and to train the instructors who work with special populations.

The BOEC strives to integrate disability with ability, providing outdoor experiences for everyone. The nonprofit hosts people of all abilities from around the world to experience spectacular natural classrooms in the Rocky Mountains.

For more information about the internship program, visit

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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