Out of the Water and into the Woods

I’ve been a lifeguard and swim instructor for the last 6+ years. Originally I became a lifeguard so that I could get paid to work at a summer camp. I had no interest in the water, in fact, I didn’t even enjoy swimming (at least not in a pool). I wanted to continue living at camp but still being able to pay my cheap pay-and-talk cell phone bill. More to the point, I wanted to be close to my boyfriend (now husband), who had been working there for the past few years before me. But my parents weren’t going to endorse that unless I was generating some income from singing campfire songs and dressing up like fictional characters. At the forest education centre, anyone with a couple certifications was eligible for a paid position as a Senior Counsellor or Senior Staff depending on your work experience. So I decided I would enroll in a Lifeguard course.     I never planned to work as a lifeguard forever, once I finished at camp and moved away from that area I planned to do something different. But with little post secondary education there weren’t many options once I got to Squamish. I worked as a kids birthday party supervisor at the local rec centre and did ice skate patrol on the side. I was determined to stray away from being in the water all the time. I wanted to let my lifeguard and swim instructor certifications fade away and go on to working outdoors. But I ended up getting an almost full time position and becoming a 5 days a week instructor guard at the pool. Years later and with hair permanently reeking of chlorine – I am finally moving on. From water to land, I will be learning an entirely different set of skills and developing new career objectives and goals.     I recently got hired as a seasonal Park Ranger with BC Parks. I will be working in the Pemberton area and commuting from Squamish 4 days a week. This is my ideal job and it couldn’t have came at a better time. I had been denied the position since there were so many qualified applicants in this area. Things become complicated in the real world when you realize most people prefer you to have a degree, even if your just out playing with a chainsaw all day. Attending post secondary had never appealed to me. I don’t have rich parents to pay my education and I never want to be swamped with student loans. I did the minimum requirements of part time studies with BCIT online to obtain my “ranger” status. That, along with years of outdoor recreation experience and search and rescue involvement, I landed the “dream job”.  Sometimes hands on experience and your general personality can get you what you never imagined possible. I started in my position last week. It is amazing how work can feel like play when you love what you do. Spent the week getting oriented and visited a few parks. I don’t know where this road will lead, but for now, I am truly happy.

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