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Ski schools get props for a change

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Here's a link to some unusually positive ink to ski schools: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11008748/

While enrolling a child in ski school or ski resort child care has its share of hassles and pitfalls – especially during busy holiday weeks – ski schools are generally safe places where children have happy experiences and learn to ski better than if their parents were instructing them.
I think the last sentence is true for spousal instruction too, especially the husband to wife kind.
post #2 of 6
Hi, Nolo.

I don't know if you saw it or not, but the Wall Street Journal had a lengthy article about the kid programs at many major resorts in last Friday's (1/20/06) issue.

It wasn't very complimentary. Unfortunately, my copy has gone off to the recyclers. Many complaints about low-experience, part-time employees being given responsibility for people's kids.

I wish I still had the article.
post #3 of 6
I thought that the WSJ article was pretty funny/poorly writen.

I don't have it here in front of me and the online edition is a subscription site.

There were some valid points raised, but alot of cods whollop as well.

I do remember one of the complaints was that an instructor had a beard.

Another was that at Steamboat the instructors on the 3-6 year old line up are not the most experieced at the resort. Do they really think a 60 year old with a 35 year pin will do a better job then a 20 year old with good intentions and high energy? My experience has been that a supervisor is not far away for this age group and training is ongoing.
post #4 of 6

Kids' ski schools

I would expect that most major resorts have a staff of instructors who are specialists in kids' instruction. I am most familiar with the kids ski school at Alta, because both my daughters learned to ski there, one of them worked there (part-time in an apprentice role while employed doing laundry at the Peruvian) and a number of my nieces and nephews still attend on our annual extended family trip there.

To begin with, running a kids ski school has to be a very difficult job, not just dealing with the kids, but dealing with the parents. Not only are most of the kids unknown quantities (are they sick, do they have medical or behavioral issues, do they have equipment that fits, etc.?), but the parents often can't get out of the way and let their children learn. The ones that do want to stay out of the way can be at the other extreme... they want to dump their kids so they can ski (see comments about equipment, illness, etc.) Alta may be better off in this regard, because the clientele tends to be more relaxed and there are a large number of repeat customers.

Then there are issues about how to handle the two crush weeks, X-mas and Presidents week. You simply cannot keep enough qualified staff to cover those weeks as well as the rest of the year, which means longer check-in lines, larger classes and more confusion in general.

I have found that Alta handles most of this pretty well. They have several advantages, some of which they can take credit for, others of which are due to the nature of the mountain and the mountain's management.

One, there are a lot of regular return kids, whose families come back year after year. They know the instructors, they know the system, and they can take care of themselves at check-in and checkout time. Two, there is a lot of continuity with instructors, many of whom have been there for a decade or more. Third, the no-snowboarding policy of the mountain means that the the kids don't have to be divided into skiers and boarders, so instructor coverage can be better managed. Finally, the day to day manager of the kids ski school has been there for a long time and is good at keeping everyone calm and organized.

They must do a good job, because even the older teenagers in my family group all try to talk their parents into letting them go into the ski school for at least a couple of days each year.

This is not a high-paying job, and the instructors need to really like what they are doing. I am always amazed that the system works as well as it does.
post #5 of 6

The Ski-School Challenge

The article was called "The Ski-School Challenge" by Nancy Keates in Wall Street Journal 1/20/06. Here is a link to a reprint of this article on AOL's Money & Finance section http://money.aol.com/wsj/investing/3...20085509990001.

Here are a few interesting excerpts from the article.

"Programs are expanding all over the country, and safety precautions, educational approaches and even the facilities themselves aren't as family-friendly as you might think. Some resorts hire great instructors, but cram too many kids of different ages into each class. Some have state-of-the-art facilities, but assign their most junior instructors to oversee the kids -- keeping the more advanced teachers for the adults. But others have it all right."

"Last season, visitors ages 45 and older made up 31% of total ski-resort business, up from 21% seven years ago, according to the National Ski Areas Association. ...In response, owners are betting on bigger and better schools for youngsters."

"While the number of people under 17 skiing in the U.S. has remained fairly constant since the late 1990s, the number of kids' ski and snowboard lessons in the 2004-2005 season rose 2.5%, or five times as fast as the number of ski lessons overall, according to the NSAA"

"Still, some of the programs have a long way to go. A few of our reporters and the parents we interviewed complained that for $100 a day or more, the classes weren't challenging enough. There was also a dearth of information about what kids would be doing once they were left in a resort's care. "

"Keeping kids happy might be a good strategy: Kids influence more than half of all family travel decisions, according to travel-research firm Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell."
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link to the previous article, ski03 (and Bob). I hope it inspires kids' ski programs to aim higher. The Accredited Children's Educator (ACE) educational program that most of the PSIA divisions have implemented will boost the quality of children's instruction within PSIA schools, but management has to enable good instruction by not getting greedy about the enormous profit potential of this market segment.
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