Below you’ll find a plethora of resources for LOF volunteers, both current and prospective. Please note that this page is primarily catered to our waterski events, but that snow skiing volunteers are also needed during the winter season.
LOF Adaptive Skiers’ adaptive programs change the lives of individuals with disabilities and special needs each and every day. At the heart of what we do are our volunteers. Coming from near and far and of all ages, it’s the LOF volunteers who make our life changing programs possible. We offer a range of positions at our adaptive sports organization ranging from in the office to on the water and on the slopes.
Volunteers sign up on a clinic-by-clinic basis, allowing for flexibility over the number of hours they commit. During our summer season, a weekly email will be sent out to all volunteers outlining LOF’s volunteer needs for the following week. To sign up as a volunteer, please contact the office via email or phone. (If you’d like to be added to the weekly volunteer email list, please contact the office).
Volunteer Positions No waterski experience necessary! Volunteers on the water should be able to swim with a life jacket and lift 30 lbs. Please refer to the list below for a description of volunteer jobs both on and off the water.
Paperwork All volunteers must sign the Insurance Waiver every calendar year. Please note that this form must be signed by a parent/guardian for all volunteers under the age of 18. Volunteers should print the form and bring it with them to their first clinic of the year. You will not be permitted to be in the water or on the dock without this form! Additionally, volunteers should fill out the Volunteer Form. Please bring all forms with you to your first event of the season.
Volunteer Jobs on the Water
- Dock jumping – when a skier returns to the dock [after skiing], “dock jumpers” jump into the water to assist a skier in getting himself/herself and his/her equipment back to shore
- Side skiing (for experienced waterskiers) – “side skiers” ski alongside our participants and physically assist them with balance and periods of fatigue
- Jet ski jumping – for safety purposes, a jet ski shall follow all sit skiers and should always have a “jumper” on the back. A “jet ski jumper” will jump in the water to assist skiers who fall and need assistance getting situated in deep water
- Spotting – at all times, a “spotter” should be in the boat in addition to the boat driver. This individual holds the responsibility of keeping an eye out for potential hazards a skier may face, and pulling the safety release, if necessary. The spotter also manages ski ropes in between waterskiers to prevent knots and tangles and to ensure that ropes do not get caught in the boat’s motor.
- Transfers – this refers to the transfer from an individual from his/her wheelchair into a sit ski. This is a great job for individuals who possess a lot of physical strength!
- Dockmaster – the “dockmaster” communicates with boat drivers via a 2-way radio system and controls boat traffic on the dock, similar to air traffic controllers at an airport.
- Boat driving** – waterski clinics require drivers for both the boat and jet ski.
Volunteer Jobs off the Water
- Registration/check in – these individuals will manage the check-in process as skiers arrive in the morning. This includes noting each skier’s attendance on the roster and the returning the individual’s registration deposit, if desired
- Equipment fitting – “equipment fitters” will fit skiers and volunteers for life jackets, skis, etc. and aid individuals who need assistance putting them on
- Media – LOF always has demand for photographers and videographers to capture our magical moments during events
- Ambassadors – ambassadors represent LOF at various presentations, conventions, and events. This is best for experienced volunteers or skiers that have a personal connection with LOF’s mission and are comfortable/proficient at speaking in front of crowds
- Setup/cleanup – volunteers are always needed to help setup or clean up for events, as well as at the beginning and end of the waterski season
- Fundraising – LOF is a non-profit organization that runs entirely through fundraising efforts. Please contact the office with fundraising inquiries.
*A variety of volunteers, including equipment fitting, instructing, side skiing, etc. are also needed for our snow ski programs
** Please note that this position is typically open to experienced LOF volunteers with boat driving experience ONLY. Must be 18 years of age or older and possess a boating license. Even the most experienced boat drivers require several hours of additional training specific to towing skiers with unique needs.
A Typical Day at LOF
8:30 AM – volunteer arrival. Volunteers should fit themselves for life jackets and assist with event set up (drinks/refreshments, participant seating, equipment, starting up boats, etc.)
8:45 AM – volunteer meeting on the dock. This is where morning assignments will be given and the event director will give an overview of that day’s participants. Together the group will discuss the game plan for a successful clinic.
9:00 AM – skier arrival and check in. Volunteers not assigned to the registration table should begin fitting participants for life jackets and equipment as they arrive.
9:15 AM – group safety overview. The director explains the safety rules for our waterski clinics and gives some on land instruction to the skiers.
9:30 AM – skiing begins. Some groups will begin with a water safety exercise in which each participant jumps into the water and swims or paddles around the dock. (This is to determine which participants are comfortable in the water and which may require extra support.) Volunteers work together to ensure that each participant skis to his/her fullest potential and that transitions between skiers is as smooth as possible.
12:00 PM – lunch break. Lunch is provided for skiers and volunteers. No participants should be in the water during this time.
12:30 PM – awards ceremony. LOF provides pewter metals for all first time skiers. This is also an appropriate time for group pictures, if desired.
12:45 PM – skiing resumes. We will pickup where the morning lineup left off and proceed until all participants receive an equal number of ski opportunities (unless they choose otherwise). Volunteers should rotate jobs at this time.
3:30 PM – farewell, skiers! Volunteers wish the participants safe travels home, then assist with cleanup of the event. All equipment should be put away, boats should be covered, tables cleared off, etc.
The LOF Volunteer’s Guide to Sit Skiing
*New volunteers: it is recommended that you read through the “waterski terminology” page before proceeding with this section
Sit skis are selected according to a skier’s difficulty level. Generally, the narrower the ski, the more advanced the skier (think: narrower ski, less surface area, harder to balance). LOF possesses many different sized cages so that a sit ski can be customized for a skier’s comfort. The cage is easily mounted on the ski (above outriggers, if desired), with 4 wingnuts. Note that the cage can be mounted more forward or backward on the ski depending on the skier’s preference and leg length.
Once a fully assembled ski is placed on the dock, volunteers help transfer the skier from his/her wheelchair (if applicable) and assist the skier so that he/she is comfortable in the cage. Feet should be strapped securely in the velcro strap. All equipment vital to the skier (prostheses, orthotics/braces, prescription goggles, etc.) should always have some sort of flotation device attached to it BEFORE the skier enters the water.
If the starting block will be used, volunteers should ensure that the knot is on the skier’s side of the block. If the skier does not wish to hold the handle, the handle should be tied around the block according to the picture below:
Side skiers, if there shall be any, should get ready at this time. Two volunteers will help lower the skier into the water. One should be on the dock, lowering the ski from the front. The other volunteer (the dragger) should be in the water at the back end of the ski, guiding the skier into the water and ensuring that the ski stays balanced. The dragger should hold on to the back of the cage. Once the skier and side skier(s) are ready for launch, the dragger will yell, “HIT IT,” signaling the boat driver and jet ski driver to take off. (*Note that intermediate/advanced skiers may not require the help of a dragger; and that side skiers are only necessary for beginner sit skiers who are shedding outriggers).
The spotter, jet ski driver, and dockmaster will all be in contact via a 2-way radio. The spotter should also have one hand on the quick release at all times and should be alert for any potential hazards. The handle on the quick release should have some slack while the spotter holds it so as not to pull it by accident. If the spotter suspects even the slightest hazard, he/she should pull the quick release.
If the quick release is pulled or the skier lets go of the handle, the jet ski jumper should jump off the side of the jet ski and swim quickly toward the skier. This individual will help the skier float back into the cage, replace the handle in the block (if necessary), and act as the dragger when not in close proximity of the dock. When all parties are ready for re-launch, the jet ski jumper/dragger will again yell, “HIT IT,”, once again signaling ONLY the boat driver (not the jet ski driver) to take off. At this time, the jet ski jumper will quickly re-mount the jet ski, and the jet ski will take off in the direction of the boat.
The spotter will warn the dockmaster when they plan to return to the dock. At this point, the dockmaster should prepare a minimum of 2 dock jumpers to be ready. The boat will approach the dock so that its path is parallel and slow down once the skier is in front of the dock. The dock jumpers will jump into the water and swim quickly toward the skier. One dock jumper will help the skier get back to the dock, while the other will swim the sit ski back to the dock. While the dock jumpers are assisting the skier, the spotter should immediately tow all ropes into the boat to ensure that they do not get caught in the boat’s motor.
The LOF Volunteer’s Guide to Stand Up Skiing
*New volunteers: it is recommended that you read through the “waterski terminology” page before proceeding with this section
Stand up skiers will come to the dock when called and a volunteer will bring his/her skis to the dock when they are needed (skis should all remain on land when not in use to prevent overcrowding on the dock). Stand up skiers (unless very advanced) should be given dry land instruction on the dock prior to skiing.
The skier should be instructed to sit on the ground, place feet flat on the dock, and draw his/her knees up to his/her chest. The skier should be given a handle to practice with and should be instructed to hold it and always keep his/her arms straight. A volunteer will hold the opposite end of the handle and simulate the pull of the boat by pulling on the rope. The skier should be instructed to slowly stand up by the force from the boat (and always keep his/her arms straight). Once the skier has mastered this, it’s time to help him/her put skis on.
To prepare waterskis, dunk them in the water so that the bindings are fully submerged and hold for a few seconds. Lay the skis down flat near the edge of the dock and add a scant amount of dish soap to the bindings. The dish soap will help the skier easily slip his/her feet into the bindings. It is helpful for a volunteer to kneel beside the skis and hold open the binders so that the skier can rest a hand on the volunteer’s shoulders for balance while putting skis on.
Once the skis are on, it is time to help the skier get in the water. All equipment vital to the skier (prostheses, orthotics/braces, prescription goggles, etc.) should always have some sort of flotation device attached to it BEFORE the skier enters the water. Instruct the skier to sit on the edge of the dock so that his/her feet are dangling into the water. If the skier is using the boom, he/she shall wait for the boat to approach the dock before getting in in the water. Once the boom is within reach, he/she should grip the boom with both hands and then slide in the water. Long line skiers can slide in the water as soon as they are given their waterski handle.
Beginner skiers sometimes need further instruction once they are in the water. While holding the handle/boom, he/she should curl up into a ball, put bring his/her chin to his/her knees, and align the tips of his/her skis so that they are sticking out of the water. As with dry land instruction, arms should always be straight. Once the skier is ready, he/she can yell, “HIT IT,” signaling the driver to launch.
The spotter and dockmaster will be in contact via a 2-way radio. The spotter should also be alert for potential hazards. Dock jumpers are not necessary for stand up skiers, but can be helpful to weak swimmers or skiers who are not totally comfortable in the water.
Once a stand up skier is dropped off, volunteers can instruct him/her to take off his/her skis. For easy removal, have the skier pull the tip of the ski to his/her face and let his/her foot slide out. Typically stand up skiers can swim themselves to the dock once their skis are off.
LOF volunteers frequently use hand signals to communicate with skiers and each other while on the water. These are particularly helpful when trying to communicate over loud boat engines. We also use specific rope signals for all skiers, specifically those who are blind and visually impaired. Read below to learn more!
Thumbs up = increase speed (usually given by a skier/tuber to inform the boat driver to speed up)
Thumbs down = decrease speed (usually given by a skier/tuber to inform the boat driver to slow down)
Pat your head – signals the boat driver to return to the dock
“Slice” hand across neck – signals the boat driver to stop immediately
One tap on the tow rope – signals skier get inside the wake
Multiple taps on the tow rope – informs the skier that he/she can ski outside the wake as he/she pleases
Circling index finger – informs the skier that the boat is about to turn