Alta States 

Delores Los - Olympic Legacy Personified


Then indecision brings its own delays,

And days are lost lamenting over lost days.

Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;

What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


I don't think Pemberton's Delores Los has ever suffered a minute of indecision. A perpetual whirlwind of positive energy, the lifelong outdoor-ed teacher seems to have had her personal compass set on "carpe diem" since she was a young farm girl growing up in south-eastern Alberta in the 1950's. As for obstacles, they just don't exist for Ms. Los. Her unassuming boldness - and utter fearlessness in the face of adversity - delivers the very genius, power and magic that most communities are begging for today.

Doubt my words? Just head down to the Callaghan Nordic Centre any weekday this winter and watch her in action. There, amid laughing school kids, bewildered teachers and appreciative parents, the 60-something dynamo oversees a new learn-to-ski program whose overwhelming success is reflected each day in the ear-to-ear grins on participants' faces.

But don't expect conventional answers when you speak with her. "A lot of people tell me: 'you can't control kids when they're outside,'" she says. "But what I've found is that you don't 'control' kids. You engage them. When kids are engaged in an activity - really engaged - they don't get in trouble." She pauses for just a beat. "At least that's been my experience..."

And she's had a few in the years since she left the family farm. Whether as a wet-behind-the-ears CUSO volunteer in 1970's Nigeria or as an emergency teacher parachuted onto an isolated stretch of the Labrador Coast - whether starting an outdoor school on the northern tip of Vancouver Island or working with kids at risk in North Van - Dolores Los has seen the good, the bad, the heartbreaking and the unspeakable. And yet, she's as enthusiastic about mentoring kids today as she was when she was taking her Phys Ed degree at the University of Alberta four decades ago.

Consider the school program she helped launch in the Callaghan this year. As a 2010 Games volunteer and a longstanding Nordic skiing enthusiast, Delores totally immersed herself in the Olympic experience - so much so that she opted to retire from teaching rather than struggle with time conflicts. When the dust had cleared and the athletes had all gone home, she decided to stay involved with the new Nordic Centre and see what she could do to contribute to the legacies program there.  Turns out a lot.

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