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Why teach?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Why teach? Or instruct if you prefer.


Why do you do it, how did you get started, why are you thinking of doing it?
I started skiing late in life, on a whim, and was hooked from the get go. Money was tight at the time and I was looking for a way to ski with two kids and not go broke. A friend at the local ski hill suggested I talk to the SSD, a young but extremely enthusiastic gentleman. I had no idea of what to expect, didn’t know if I could teach but jumped blindly into the breach anyway and found another new passion to go along with my just discovered passion. The pursuit of certification didn’t come until I moved on to the “Big” ski area up the road.
The pay is low, conditions poor, rewards few, listening to some here you can't ski and barely know enough about skiing to get by.

So, what’s your story and why do you do it?
post #2 of 25
In the 1960's while skiing on cupons for lift, lesson and lunch for $5, the SSD who was my instructor hinted that it would be cheaper for me to "hire you instead of feeding you".



In the 90's when my son started racing so I was tied to a single hill, I was asked by the head of the race program to join the ski school staff.

I really enjoyed working with about 10% of the customers, the ones who actually came out to learn to ski. This is more of a "marketing phenomena" thing in this area; most came as a one day thing, a fun day in the country and out of the big city. Nothing wrong with that at all but it's a different client base than most other areas will see.
post #3 of 25
I enjoyed teaching, I was a good athlete, and I loved the mountains. Teaching - the idea of being a school teacher all winter long, and missing powder days didn't do it for me.

My first season working for a ski area, I was 18. I rode up the lift with a wealthy older gentleman. He said, "When your young is the time to do it, there is always time to make money." I can't imagine a better "JOB".

I moved from California to Colorado with my Level 2. I interviewed with Weems in 1993, we talked about Tony Robbins for awhile and he offered me a position with Aspen. I had a list of goals, and sharing a basement room for $350/mo down valley was not one of them. So I moved to Breckenridge, where I could afford real estate and teach.

For the past 14 years, I have been living my dream. As for the making money part...

to your success,
Jon
post #4 of 25
I'm in it for the money
post #5 of 25
I got into ski teaching just for the fame, the success, and the chicks... oh ya, and for the money!

(Dang, I'm 0/4......)
post #6 of 25
Teaching is a form of immersion learning fueled by embarrassment and the fear of embarrassment that you will find yourself in front of a class wearing no clothes, metaphorically speaking. It's the biggest challenge I have found.
post #7 of 25
I started teaching because it was deja vu all over again.
post #8 of 25
It was all about the chicks for me. And the fame. And the MONEY. Now it's all about the guest, client, friend.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Ringeisen View Post
It was all about the chicks for me. And the fame. And the MONEY. Now it's all about the guest, client, friend.
Same for me. I couldn't get the former three so I went for the latter three.

Ringeisen, they still let you teach!???:
post #10 of 25

Why Teach

BillA, in answer to your question. 6 yrs ago decided to move to N Idaho from Penryn California (30 mi E of Sacramento). I didn't know a single person in Idaho so though if I became a ski instructor I would have someone to patner with when skiing. Went to NASTC clinic at Sugar Bowl, passed level I and taught at Homewood on W side of Lake tahoe for a year. Moved to Idaho and got a job at Silver Mt. before I even arrived. Met some great people and have plenty of ski buds and budettes.

As a sidelight, I really enjoy teaching have taught a lot - othrer than skiing- and enjoy teaching poeple to ski. Don't regret it at all. No $$ in teaching up here, very little in tips, very few benefits, almost no appreciation from Mt., its costs me to be an instructor. I kept a record for 04/05 winter and figure it cost me about $1100.00 to be a part time instructor at Silver (gas, food, some mandatory equip, PSIA dues and clinics for training credits etc.

Had a great time,very few almost zero "bad classes". One plus is that I always get small classes and a lot of one on one/two or three students which makes for a good class.

Try it you may like it. The really interesting part of being a ski instructor is watching the ski school people. The range of personalities and motivations, ego, lack of ego and other general psychological profiles is reallly amazing.
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
I'm in it for the money
Maybe I should clarify since most people are sarcastically saying they're in it for the money too. I am ACTUALLY in it for the money. Without a) The free pass b)the free transportation too and from the hill (120 miles round trip) or c) the large discounts on food, I could not afford to crank out an 80 day season.

I mainly teach as little as possible to still meet part-time employee hours. I really do not enjoy my job all that much. I mean I teach to the best of my abilities all the time and enjoy giving lessons to skiers who are really enthusiastic about learning and being in the mountains but I have found that is about 10% of lessons. Besides the money that I do make (more than what the majority of otherplaces pay, from what I've gathered here) is used to cover the other basic costs of skiing: wax, gas, saving towards skis, food, money for when I ski away from my home resort.

So in the end I dont really make any money, but it provides me the ability to do something I love which would otherwise be too costly to do as much as I want.
post #12 of 25

Why Teach

I like PhilT's honesty. As I stated teaching is not for the $. I live 36 miles from ski resort and a season pass for me is only $189.00 for 7 days a week. So there's not monetary motivation. The one thing I really don't like about local instructors pay is that there is no show up pay. So on a day I'm scheduled to teach, if i DON'T no pay at all. Doesn't help with the gas $ and meals etc.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
Maybe I should clarify since most people are sarcastically saying they're in it for the money too. I am ACTUALLY in it for the money. Without a) The free pass b)the free transportation too and from the hill (120 miles round trip) or c) the large discounts on food, I could not afford to crank out an 80 day season.

I mainly teach as little as possible to still meet part-time employee hours. I really do not enjoy my job all that much. I mean I teach to the best of my abilities all the time and enjoy giving lessons to skiers who are really enthusiastic about learning and being in the mountains but I have found that is about 10% of lessons. Besides the money that I do make (more than what the majority of otherplaces pay, from what I've gathered here) is used to cover the other basic costs of skiing: wax, gas, saving towards skis, food, money for when I ski away from my home resort.

So in the end I dont really make any money, but it provides me the ability to do something I love which would otherwise be too costly to do as much as I want.

Most people used to teach for the pass but these days the passes are so cheap who needs to teach?
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillA View Post
So, what’s your story and why do you do it?
If I cannot explain it, I don't know it. I teach to learn.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE View Post
If I cannot explain it, I don't know it. I teach to learn.
For how long have you been teaching/learning BigE?
post #16 of 25
Well here in Aspen it's for the free rides on private jets, and then I woke up.----Wigs
post #17 of 25
I was bribed...

See, I found this web site when I was looking for a good boot fitter. I found the boot fitter, but I was also an unemployed Internet CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and VP of Engineering/Operations in the middle of the Internet bubble's burst. Not a lot of people looking for a CTO those days, and not a lot of consulting work, either. So, I met this guy on the web site, and asked if he'd meet me for a cuppa so I could pick his brains about ski teaching. I hadn't taught skiing before, but I've always been a student of the sport (since I started in 1971) and got a little coaching when I raced for a couple of years in high school.

Although I am the sole breadwinner for a family of five, he said that he thought that I could make $500-$600 and that would allow me to at least keep my head above water (together with another job as a host at Cheesecake Factory). I love to teach (having taught both hard and soft skills for a number of years for the University of Denver and various non-profit functions) and I love to ski. Making money doing it would be great.

It didn't quite work out that way... I got my level 1 cert right away and began to pursue my level 2. At the same time, I got a "day job" as an industry analyst and had to cut back my hours. A couple of months in, I couldn't come to agreement with the area given my new work schedule, so they asked me to turn in my uniform.

However, that spring (as I passed 2/3 of my Level 2 cert) I tried out for the OHG Guide program at Copper and was accepted. It doesn't pay anything, but I get to ski with some of the most incredibly alive people I know, guiding them around the mountain, giving them some insights into their skiing, and being part of assisting them to have a wonderful day. The next season, I passed the rest of my Level 2 and settled in to being a Guide. I do it for the time in the mountains, the friendships I've built, the learning I get (both in skiing and in life).

Last year I was offered an expansion of my role by joining the teaching pool, so I still guide, but I teach a few days now, too. In this case, it had the benefit of getting passes for my family, which was quite a blessing. It also allowed me to reconnect with teaching, to see some kids make incredible strides, and to teach a family and see three generations come to skiing.

So, that's a long answer to your question, Bill, but the answer isn't simple. It's teaching, it's sharing my joy, it's making new connections, and it's expanding my knowledge. It's led to opportunities that I had never imagined, including a book that will go on sale in a couple of months. Ultimately, though, it's about people and how they experience life. Thanks for asking...
post #18 of 25
I believe my motive is no one taught me to ski--until I paid for lessons in my 30s. I have been skiing since I was 7 or 8, had a great time, but was (in hindsight) bad. I believe had I met a (me) early on, I might have made skiing my profession in some way. Ergo---I want to touch all the people I can....and I do bleieve they see and feel my energy when I am selected from the line, or they wish to talk for free on the lift.


PS...it cost me more to teach than I am paid in money. I know that PTs like me are likely the structural reason for low pay for FT instructors...but I dont have an answer to this. If all the PTs quit---I fear forigners would fill in before proper pay went to FTs.
post #19 of 25
i coached this past season after a 13 year hiatus.... to pay for passes for myself, my wife, 2 daughters, and coaching fees for the kids. that stuff added up to $5k+!!!

what i found out was that the *biggest* side benefit and probably the most compelling reason for me to coach next year is not the $$$, but how my 6 and 4 y/o daughters perceived their "dad". i was not only their "dad" but a "coach" of the top team in the program. they thought that was awesome... and inspired them to *really* learn and pay attention so one day they can be on "daddy's" team.

anyhoo.... i have learned a lot from some of the best coaches in this country, and i think it is time that impart some of that knowledge to some of the kids at the mountain i enjoy. that is why i teach.
post #20 of 25
anyhoo.... i have learned a lot from some of the best coaches in this country, and i think it is time that impart some of that knowledge to some of the kids at the mountain i enjoy. that is why i teach.[/quote]



Perfectly said.....
post #21 of 25
For me, it started as part of a mid-life crisis - getting divorced, ground down by the job, wanted a break ... and didn't fancy the sports car/young blonde route (mind, neither did the young blondes, but that's neither here nor there).

So I chose to bin my job and spend a season skiing, which I had always wanted to do, in 04/05. To give me a purpose to my days, rather than getting a couple of weeks in and refusing to get out of bed before noon, I chose to do a gap-year instructor's course for 11 weeks. And loved it. And thought, hell, might as well use it for a while.

Did a week teaching schoolkids in Italy; loved it. Went to Australia and taught for seven weeks and loved it before snapping my ACL and undergoing five operations on my knee (which I didn't love). That cost me my first season in Park City.

But I got fit and went to PC and taught for the season and guess what? Loved it. Learned every day, got better as I went along (I think), liked the people, they seemed to like me - I got a bonus, anyway! Did half my level 2 with t'other half to come this season, because I'm going back.

In fact, I liked it so much I bought property in PC. This frees me from the tyranny of landlords and rent and gives me a half-chance of actually making some money - last season cost me about $3,000. I don't do it for the money but it would be nice to pay for food.

In a small irony, one reason I went into journalism in the early 80s was because I couldn't face the concept of teaching kids. The reason I don't go back full-time is because I'm enjoying teaching so much ...
post #22 of 25
Sandgroper61, glad to hear you enjoyed your first season over this side of the pond!
post #23 of 25
I started teaching again (after a 29 year absence) when my son (who is now 15 1/2) decided he wanted to snowboard instead of ski. 7 years later, we both teach at the same ski school. My son is now prepping for his Level II snowboarding exam and hopes to start down the ski certification path also, and likes to teach.

I look at teaching as a way for me to continue to progress from a skiing perspective and give back some of what I've learned to someone else. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction seeing a student learn a new skill, make progress on achieving their goals, and coming back to the lodge with a big smile on their face.

Mike
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Bell View Post
Sandgroper61, glad to hear you enjoyed your first season over this side of the pond!
Martin, I loved it. You won't remember, but once upon a time I interviewed you ... for the Evening Standard ... at a time when I was trying to get more skiing in the paper. Got along with Boris pretty well at the time.

I just wish I'd done it earlier. It's the most fun you can have with your trousers on - mind, I used to say that about surfing, but I'm older now!
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandgroper61 View Post
Got along with Boris pretty well at the time.
Haven't seen Boris for 3 or 4 years now, but I hear his computer company is doing very well!
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