This is the first of a series of featuring individual instructors. Do you know Joe? Enjoy!
Joe Forte has been working at Blue Mountain Resort for just over half his life. Starting as a teenager, he spent one year in the security department before he switched to the education side and never looked back.
He began as a snowboard instructor when the department was housed in a trailer in the Valley and then was in Explorers for 8 years. He was the head coach of the Freestyle program for 6 years, which included 2 years as the assistant director of the Learning Center. This past season was his first year as the Learning Center Director. In the off-season, Joe has been with the summer camp since its inception 4 years ago, and is currently the Summer Adventure Director, overseeing the camp, aerial course, laser tag, and the archery program.
Growing up in the area, Joe used to play in the creek that runs through the campground, and when summer camp is in session, he still does! He started skiing when he was 2 and snowboarding when he was 12. His father worked as a groomer at Shawnee and Joe could ski at night, as his father “was the chairlift” and would bring him up to the top. His first season snowboarding, Joe rented 1 of only 6 available snowboards at Shawnee. At the end of the winter, he was told he could keep the equipment, as the mountain thought snowboarding was “only a fad!” His dad hoped so too, as he didn’t like seeing the hard falls Joe was taking as he tried to figure out how to ride.
When Blue Mountain opened up to snowboarders, Joe was here on the very first day, board in hand. Before rails and jumps were provided by ski resorts, Joe and his friends would drag logs out of the woods and build jumps. The ski patrol would follow them and throw their makeshift obstacles back into the trees later. He got into trouble for jumping, as the rule at the time was your equipment was not allowed to leave the snow. He was an early proponent of helmets after taking some nasty spills, and said the ski patrollers would follow people who were wearing helmets because they thought they were “up to something.”
Joe has his undergraduate degree in Marine Physics and his Master’s in Education, both from Kutztown University. He decided to pursue a career in alternate education instead of public schools, because he wanted to focus on items such as leadership, respect, communication, teamwork, how to accept failure, and perseverance; things that aren’t typically taught in schools. After saying he would never pursue a management position, his perspective changed, as he realized that he could impact more lives in that type of role. He loves watching the success of students and knowing that he has made a difference in their outlook on life.
In the AASI world, Joe has his Level 3 snowboard certification and is a PSIA ACE (Advanced Children’s Educator). He runs both educational clinics and Children’s Specialist (CS) exams. Impressively, he did his CS1, CS2, and ACE tryout all in one year!
When not working, Joe can be found outside. He likes to fish, hunt, mountain bike, and whitewater paddleboard. He is also an avid rock climber, and is certified with the American Mountain Guide Association. He loves traditional climbing at secluded places like the Lehigh Gorge, where unspoiled rock faces abound. At the end of every winter, he combines his passions for hiking and snowboarding on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. When he was 2, his father carried him up the mountain to see Tuckerman Ravine, and he has climbed it over a dozen times since that first visit.
Joe’s advice to others is to follow your heart and don’t get hung up on the details or the destination. Enjoy the journey!
Sheri Miltenberger, April 2016
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