Does this banter sound familiar? “Let’s go. Where’s your other glove? What happened to your sunglasses? Hurry up. The lesson starts at 10.” That’s the life of skiing or snowboarding with kids. Plus, just getting the kids and all of that gear to the mountain will be an adventure in itself. Thankfully, it is very rewarding. Although it might not always seem that way. Here are a couple pointers that I’ve found to help the adventure of hitting the slopes with kids; whether they’re your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or even the neighbors’ kids.
1) Make sure the kids are well fed before you hit the slopes. But, don’t stop there. Make sure there are plenty of snacks to refuel, add motivation, & flat out work as a bribe. Don’t worry. The kids will burn off that extra cocoa or Jolly Rancher. And, that little extra might be the difference between success and a meltdown.
2) Set your expectations realistically. Yes, many kids will take to the snow like they’re born to be there. But, don’t expect the next Shaun White, Bodie Miller, Jamie Anderson or Lindsay Vonn at the end of the first day. If the kid is smiling, in control, and riding on their own, then consider that a success.
3) Know when to seek help. You may be the king or queen on the mountain, but there’s a reason many professionals don’t like to teach friends, family members, or loved ones. It’s great to achieve success by teaching those closest to you to tackle the mountain. Sometimes, it’s easier for someone with less of a personal connection to give instruction. And more importantly, it’s often easier to take instruction when there’s not as close a personal connection. My kids got the help from many of my friends and co-workers when they needed a little extra instruction. It saved me a lot of headaches. And, it helped them be better skiers and riders.
4) Be prepared for all types of weather. It’s tough to do well if uncomfortable. It could be snowing sideways in whiteout conditions or even a warm day baking in the alpine sun. Be prepared for each scenario. Layers are key. Sunblock is mandatory. And, eye protection is essential. If a kid tells you that they’re cold, hot, or anything else, then it’s already too late.
5) Rent the most current gear from Black Tie Ski Rentals and let the kids learn how to do everything from lacing/buckling their boots to walking with their new gear. Kids are notorious for showing up with hand me down gear that’s outdated, doesn’t fit, or is simply unsafe. Nobody wants to see a kid end their day with a sled ride off the mountain. Set them up for success by getting the right gear. And, don’t overload them like pack mules. I like to have the kids carry all the ski poles, while I’m carrying the skis. Pick and choose your battles. Eventually, you won’t be able to separate them from their gear. So, sacrifice a little now for a long term return.
If you follow these simple steps, then you may be able to enjoy years of adventure on the mountain. I’ve seen a lot of families captured by the thrill of skiing/riding the mountain. But, I’ve also seen families on the brink after one bad day. There are a lot of life lessons learned on the mountain. And, many of those lessons just might be for the parents tackling a family adventure on the mountain. Lord knows I’ve learned the difference between a successful day and a day I’d like to forget. Now, I’m able to ride the whole mountain with my kids, as well as take trips to other resorts as a family. That’s the greatest reward, if you ask me.
Special guest blogger, longtime South Tahoe local and die-hard mountain man