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Kids Lessons

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am going to take my family to Winter Park, Co over easter break for our first big vacation by which I mean farther than 4hrs from home so I want it to go smoothly. My oldest girls are 8 and 11 and can snow plow and make big turns and are somewhat comfortable on skis. So my question is would they have more fun as well as improve their skills better in a all day private lesson or an all day group lesson with kids their own age. I am thinking the group lesson would be less intimidating and they could make some friends while the private might be to structured and less fun for both the kids and instructor. What are some thoughts.

post #2 of 13

I can highly recommend either Jim Upchurch or Bill Mack for kids.  They do either groups or privates.  Jim is also highly involved in NSCD. 


A group lesson might be more fun if they like socializing with other kids.  You can save on lessons if you book online in advance. I can also send Preferred Customer Cards that will get you $20 off each lesson.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

That would be awesome.

post #4 of 13

Depending on how much you want to spend, and how much improvement is a goal....the regular group lessons at WP are also excellent.  Obviously, there are specific instructors for private lessons that can really accelerate your girls' progress, so it depends on what you are after.


We've only done group lessons - my older sons (13 & 12) moved quickly to black level this year and my younger two (boy & girl, 8 & 7) have moved quickly to upper level blues.  They spent a good amount of time in greens last year, and it probably was somewhat repetitive although they built a very good foundation and progress has really exploded.


It will be hard to go wrong, so it really is what you all want out of the experience and instruction.

post #5 of 13

My kids did better in a group lesson.  They're not super competitive but when they see other kids doing something then they think they can do it as well.  If they're alone with an instructor they're more timid.  It really depends on the kid.  My son started skiing at 6, nothing but group lessons and was doing true blacks by 8.  I think it was largely due to the kids in the group pushing each other along.  That said, Your kids are a bit older and at their ability they may be stuck with younger kids which might not be any fun.


The school + instructors is really important.  Many mountains the "school" or "lesson" is nothing more than paying someone (a lot of times just an advanced teenager with little instruction training) to ski with your kid.  We're in the East Coast  and we love the Ski School at MRG.  Great instruction where the kids actually ski most of the time.  Parents are responsible for getting their kids geared up and the ski school meets at the liftside.  They only come in for lunch and bathroom/water breaks and pickup is liftside as well.  Drives me crazy hen the ski schools are nothing more than day cares with a bit of ski thrown in.  I recall that in one of the mountains in the Catskills, I saw my kids watching a movie inside for 1/2 the time.


post #6 of 13

Go with the group lessons.  There's something about group dynamics with young kids that motivates them and makes them enjoy it more than having some random strange old man (as far as they're concerned) telling them what to do all day.

post #7 of 13

Do your girls get along with one another? Are they at the same level? Do they get along with other kids?


If they don't get along with other kids, then privates are great. If they don't get along with one another (or just don't want to ski together), then group lessons are better and put them in different groups.


They'll probably make faster progress in a private lesson, but group lessons can be lots of fun. Fun is the most important thing. Seriously, I tell kids I teach that there are two rules - 1) have fun and 2) be safe - you can't have fun if you aren't being safe. So set them up with whatever is going to be the most fun. That way they'll want to ski again soon.

post #8 of 13

My daughter is very social.  For her, a group lesson that includes kids about her age has always worked well.  Has had a few group clinics that ended up being a private because it wasn't a busy time.  She enjoyed those as well because our home mountain has good instructors.  Note that she gets along well with classmates and all her teachers.


An all day ski school set up usually includes breaks, which can help a lot.  For a private, seems like half day in the morning plus skiing with you in the afternoon would be better.

post #9 of 13

If you decide a group lesson is best for your girls based on the advice above, see if they have any multi-day lessons with the same group of kids and instructor.  How long will you be there? It is like going to camp for them.  The instructor won't be starting from near zero every day, and the kids seem to do better as they get to know each other.  This was the third year my 7 y/o did a 5 day camp and she absolutely LOVES it, she still keeps in touch with one of the girls from last year (occasional parent assisted emails).  This year on the first day while getting organized, she saw her instructor from last year, walked up and gave him a hug. 


An added benefit is that the "camps" seem to be significantly cheaper than the same amount of instruction bought daily (at least where we do our annual big trip).  A lot depends on the personality of your girls as to how they would best learn and have fun.

post #10 of 13

I'd completely agree with group lessons at their levels.  Unless both are ending up in the same class, Group has several advantages as mentioned above.


I'm right now out in Steamboat where all my daughters have all had group lessons.  their ages differ by 3 yrs, my oldest is 16, then we have our 13yr old and have a 7 yr old, all girls.  this over the last 12 years.


Groups have worked great, and while i can clearly state that male instructors have been excellent, girls tend to favor females unless the instructor is really used to kids, normally, I'll claim older males (vars younger) tend to do better with girls but I do not imply to bash all males, it's simply an observation by my 3 daughters.  So, unless your daughters are outgoing, you'll likely find female instructors those which your daughters gravitate to.


There are a few things me and my wife have noted over the yrs, Ski School offers several things besides the lesson.  It allows you time to ski more advanced terrain when your kids are in lessons.  Private or not, speak with the teacher and learn what your kids can do, what trails, what needs to be worked on, etc.  Many programs have GAPS tracking that makes replicating their day easier.   We loved doing the next day with following their tracks. 


So, my recommendation would be for a group lesson unless the cost of a private (use recommended instructors above) isn't a strain.   We have had no complaints on group lessons other than one yr in Steamboat, however that one yr we spoke with the head of the school noting our second child didn't advance in 3 days with 3 instructors, he said this was completely unacceptable and worked with our child that day and she was given a private .. we didn't demand this, I just state this as the schools seem to always stand behind their teachings.


This is a "slow" year from what I can tell so I believe you'll find any lessons great.  My two eldest were the only two in a group lesson today so depending on the day, you too may find a good teacher to student ratio. 


At 8 and 11, I will claim do group lessons.  WP will group em into their respective skill levels and you'll need not argue a choice.  You will have time to ski what you wish, your kids can show you at end of day (normally 1 hr or more after lesson to do your own thing) or the next day what they ski in school.  The instructor should be able to tell you what you need to know about your kids.







post #11 of 13

BTW...  Remember to take care of your instructor with a tip at the end of the day.  I always tip enough for a pint at the pub.

post #12 of 13

Wait...your school has Easter break?



post #13 of 13

Jim and Bill are anything but untrained teenagers.  I know as their lockers are right next to mine.  They are professional highly certified instructors - not babysitters.


Their results with kids speak for themselves.  Two families tip Jim by taking him along on their families annual ski vacation to Vail.  The two kids Jim coaches over multi-weeks at Winter Park then show off their new mogul skills to their parents while Jim goes and plays on the slopes.  Jim has also coached NSCD sit-skiers down the Back Bowls at Vail.  One patroller even came up to him and said "That was impressive" after they blasted their way down.


Bill has great results too.  A story he told me on Sunday.


A lady came to pick up her young son from an all day group lesson.  Her son had never been skiing before.  When she saw Bill she said "How did he do?".  Before he could could answer she said "Don't tell me, he can't turn or stop can he?"   Bill told her that "no, take him up the lift and take one run with him.  He's ready for it.".  She didn't believe him so Bill told her son to go up the magic carpet, come down the zig-zag traffic cone course, come give his mom a high-five, and then go back up the magic carpet.  The kid did as requested to perfection.  Bill asked the mom "Well what did you think?".  Utter silence from behind him.  He turned around to look at the mom and she was crying her eyes out.  She took her first ever ski run with her son.  She found Bill at the base and handed him a $50 bill. 

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