#8 Walter Behuniak Jr.
Patrol - Mount Southington Ski Patrol
Joined NSP - 1970
Inducted - October 25, 2009
Walt Behuniak was just out of his ‘teens when he came to Mount Southington in the Fall of 1969. Young, energetic, and full of enthusiasm, Walt immediately and totally immersed himself in the Ski Patrol way of life. If there was a course, clinic, or any other type of patrol related event to be taken, he took it. By 1974 he had successfully completed both the Level I and Level II (then known as the “Circle” and “Patch”) Avalanche Courses, both “sister” Mountaineering Courses, and had become a Senior Patroller in the process. His “free” time was taken up by either putting in extra sessions at Mount Southington, or by helping out at Senior S & T clinics and Tests as a “gopher”. Walt could always be found somewhere out on the hill playing with a toboggan and “pushing the envelope”. Whatever needed to be done, Walt was there to help and learn. In 1975, he received his Senior Examiner (Trainer/evaluator) credentials.
In the early ‘70s, Mount Southington was in the process of developing a new lift evacuation rig, which would have the capability of going over chairs without the necessity of learning the fancy rope handling required to “flip’ the line over the chair. Walt, with his mechanical engineering background, was instrumental in its development and training to the point that he became the patrol’s first official Lift Evacuation Advisor.
For a time in the late ‘70s, Walt was also a member and eventually Patrol Leader of The Central Connecticut Ski Patrol. This was one of the last Metropolitan Ski Patrols affiliated with the NSP, and was, for a time, an all Senior Patrol. Walt honed his organizational and logistics skills here by putting together events like binding safety checks at various ski areas, S & T clinics, and tracking session records for his Patrollers, all the more complex since this patrol did not have a home area from which to patrol.
All of Walt’s formative experiences would show their full value when Walt took over the reigns as Region Senior S & T Advisor, a position which he would remain in for a quarter of a century. Walt’s name has become well respected both in the Connecticut Region and the Eastern Division in Senior circles as an excellent administrator and proponent of the Senior Program. Walt has the ability to put together a superb training/evaluation team and then give them the freedom to instruct according to their individual personalities.
Walt has held a good number of positions and advisorships through the years, and has carried out his responsibilities exceedingly well. He has received among other awards, a Meritorious Service Award, as well as National Appointment #6639 in 1986, for his dedication through the years. What becomes readily apparent, however, is his greatest attribute. Innumerable Patrollers have advanced their skills, knowledge, and involvement in both the Mount Southington Ski Patrol and the Connecticut Region because Walt would stand behind them, out of the limelight, and gently motivate them to also “push the envelope”.
Walt has always had that “contagious enthusiasm”. His formative training was by very practical “old school” Mentors. They emphasized that unless one is performing the totally serious business of rendering aid, Patrolling should be a completely enjoyable experience. Walt’s instruction methods have always followed this principle. Learning will progress much better when the atmosphere is light and relaxed, and Walt is a Master of this. When a Patroller that Walt is training, masters a skill, understands a concept, or reaches the next plateau, who would you guess has the bigger grin?