I worked 2 years as a part time ski instructor for Crystal Mt Washington a couple of years back, and I have got to say it was one of the best experiences, and by far the best job I have ever had. The community of ski instructors as well as the culture there was absolutely fantastic. A good handful of us would all stay the weekend at this lodge and we did huge potlucks where everyone cooked a different meal. We would sit by the fire drink, talk, dance. The next morning everyone woke up, got ready and clocked into work.
I taught a multi-week program of “never ever” kids. It certainly was a pain in the ass skiing on the bunny hill, but it was also amazing and rewarding. My manager had a great philosophy for teaching kids: If the lesson is safe and fun, the lesson will essentially teach itself. If your lesson is lame, kids aint learnin a god damn thing. Parents want you to focus only skills but in my opinion… screw that! I realize they pay big bucks for their kids to learn how to ski but really??? I know what I am doing! I even got yelled at by some parents. One parent even secretly watched my lesson from afar and later told me that my lesson wasn’t “technical enough” (they were 5!). I figure if I am bored listening to the cut and paste “garbage” PSIA lesson… I guarantee you that kids aren’t having fun either. I don’t want kids going skiing only to feel like they are back in school. I feel like that first day is crucial! If the kids have an absolute blast, they might develop a passion for the sport and want to come back. Otherwise I doubt they will be super excited to come back next week. by no means am I saying that I just let my students dick around in the snow all day. I went through a pretty basic, loose progression and it worked. I mixed in some of the drills I learned in clinics with stuff I thought would actually be fun. I tried making it seem less like a lesson, and more like a rad day of skiing. We would Chinese downhill it to the bottom of the hill (got me in trouble with my boss but who cares), go on some crazy side of the run jumps, ski under legs, fly down the bunny hill while holding hands so it looks like a giant eagle, throw snowballs, sing songs on the chairlifts, and generally just goof around. Basically if they weren’t smiling while skiing I knew I was doing something wrong. One week I brought them into the ski patrol shack so they knew where it was, the ski patrollers gave each of my student these little cards with an avalanche dog, and the alpine responsibility code on it. At the end of 6 weeks we had a Hawaiian ski day where everyone wore Hawaiian shirts and leis. Taking my group of little kids to the very top of the mountain on a blue bird day to see the beautiful view of Mt Rainier, and then proceed to shred down for a T to B run was one of the best days on the mountain I have had.
Now I have got to say it wasn’t the easiest job (for me at least). Occasionally when I decided the group could move up to the next chairlift someone would freeze up at the top of the run. Coaching a scared kid down the hill is hard… very hard. The kids usually ended up hugging me with their hidden strength death grip. I never thought a 6-year-old girl would have the arm strength of the incredible hulk.
I didn’t really care for the PSIA aspect of it. I got level 1 certified and bought some nice ass gear for like 75% off, but the clinics were hell. I don’t know or care what it means to “flex your quads and angulate your upper ankle and hip to keep a quiet upper body”. Half the time I wouldn’t change my skiing at all when the clinician was watching and he would say “Perfect” … like what? I didn’t change a thing!
I just thought I would post my experience instructing. I’ve definitely heard some horror stories, so I am pretty glad my mountain was overall pretty sweet. Feel free to post your experience teaching the new generation!