How we are always trying to make ski school easier for parents.
Author Dave Burrows -
In my role as ski school director, I'm continually telling my staff that we have it easy compared to the parents bringing their children to the lessons.
'How so?', the younger ones ask, 'we have to be up there in all weathers, happy and motivated bringing skiing to the next generation.' They don't always say this, often look at me like I'm mad.
It's straightforward in the mornings for most of my team, brush a bit of fresh snow off the car. The more organized amongst us nip out 5 Minutes before leaving and put the heater on so it's toasty and warm inside. We also know that it is a good idea to put your boots in the passenger footwell, so they are nice and warm when you arrive at the resort.
Once we arrive at the resort, we nip into a lovely warm cafe for a pre-lesson meeting, slip on our nice warm boots, enjoy a coffee, and wait for our clients to arrive. Then as soon as we spot the clients, we stroll out to meet them like a rock star with our skis slung over our shoulder and greet them with a winning smile.
What our instructors don't always see is the absolute chaos that it takes to get a couple of little ones up to the resort to get to that ski lesson on time.
As part of our training last winter, I asked one of our favorite clients, let's call him 'Bob' (names changed to protect the innocent) about his experience so that we could learn to be more empathetic of just what it takes to get our little clients to the lessons on time.
This is Bob's experience...
Okay, you asked for it, so here is my day in the life of the ski school parent:
Day starts early as awoken at 0630 by a child who wants to watch TV. Everyone up by 0700 and we have plenty of time to get to the slopes.
First battle is trying to get the kids to eat a proper breakfast, instead of run around shouting and pretending to reenact Star Wars. Clear up after breakfast battle and by the time that done it is now 0800! HELP!
Tell the kids to get dressed in clothes laid out. That doesn't go to plan as one of them will INSIST they don't need thermals or a fleece or gloves or....take your pick...spend 10 minutes convincing / pleading / threatening / bribing until they are dressed.
Now running 5 minutes late, so rush everyone into the car while trying to make sure that everyone's ski gear, preferred snacks, kleenex, sun cream and personal belongings are in the car. Just as we're about to leave, one of the kids needs the loo. Finally set-off 15 minutes behind schedule.
Now stressed. Peace in the car lasts 10 minutes before argument / fight in the back seat breaks out. Got a splitting headache. Arrive in Morgins and start the search for car parking. Only spare place is miles from the lift of course, but there is NO WAY I am dropping them off and leaving them to look after our belongings and behave.
Park car and get everyone out. Now have to dress 3 people myself included and get to the lifts in 5 minutes ....stressed, stressed, stressed - try and dress the kids at lightening speed - ski boots on, helmets, goggles,, gloves, check ski passes. Looking good...spoke too soon.
One of the kids sensing the stress announces he doesn't want to ski and doesn't like lessons. Start pleading like crazy and promise anything he wants - did I just promise a trip to Disneyworld? Speed march down the road with my three pairs of skis and arrive at the lift exhausted, sweating and 5 minutes late AGAIN.
Based on this feedback, I slightly changed the timing of all of our ski lessons. So for example, last winter I built into the schedule time allowances for overruns like Bob's.
This makes our instructors who are running back to back lessons less worried about infringing on the next lesson.
So for example, I now schedule a day of lessons like this;
Little Jonny 0900-1100
Little Sophie 1115-1315
After implementing this change, we found that it took the pressure off clients and instructors, and everyone was more relaxed.
It also made a massive difference to the atmosphere in the lessons.
If you have a similar experience to Bob's that you think might help us better understand the challenges of skiing with children, please drop us an email.