This week, my boys will have their last session of Children’s Sunday Ski Experience. A lot of my friends, particularly those from out of town, are surprised that Lance, 12, and Seth, 8, still take ski lessons as they are advanced skiers, who frequent bumps and tree runs. Our family time seems increasingly precious, as their schedules demand a divide-and-conquer management style that doesn’t land the four of us at home, most weeknights, until after 7:30 p.m. So I have been feeling conflicted about giving up our family ski time for these seven Sundays. However, there are a ton of benefits to continuing their formal ski education in the fun-based setting of Adventure Club. Here are just a few:
- It is better to have someone other than their parents asking them to dig deep and push themselves into trying more advanced terrain. The amazing coaches at Deer Valley have the ability to make such moments seem like they are the kids’ own original ideas. This idea holds true for the technical stuff, too. My theory is that because we ask our children to do hundreds of things a day, it may make our voices sound like that of Charlie Brown’s teacher—wa-wa-wa. But when a teacher tells them, “Great job completing the turn, now I want you to focus on putting your hands in front of you for pole plants,” they can hear it.
- Their confidence goes through the roof. Every time they come home after ski school and announce that they conquered new terrain, they are more and more confident about their ability to ski anything, anywhere. Seth has been known to grill his brother on what terrain he skied that day, and to start scheming about how he can make sure he gets his coach to take his group on the same runs the following week. Competitive much?
- The kids become self-appointed coaches for their parents. There is a lot to be said for students acting as teachers. If my child is reminding me to put my hands in front of me, then he’s reminding himself. Now we’re bracing ourselves for when they decide to coax us into more aggressive terrain. (Truth be told, I can only do so many bumps runs before my knees send up a white flag, and Jeff’s never been fond of tree runs, so our family skiing is maybe a little boring, from a terrain standpoint, for our kids.)
- If my kids were on alpine ski teams, they’d still be getting instruction, but I’d see even less of them. Alpine ski teams have a lot of advantages. Kids continue to grow in the sport under the guidance of talented coaches. They learn the value of good sportsmanship and team support. But they also train both days each weekend, and when they’re not training there are competitions. Again, there are a lot of benefits to such an endeavor. However, neither of our kids have been bitten by that particular bug, yet, so we can take advantage of the fact that we have more days to enjoy together at Deer Valley Resort than we might otherwise have.
- They bond with their Adventure Club pals. Some of the friends my children ski with each Sunday are the same children they hung out with in the Reindeer Room and back during the Bambi program days. Last week Lance came back from ski school with a full report on the curriculum at the local junior high school, which he will be attending in the fall. “Oh, I got the low down on everything on the chairlift,” he said, casually, naming the two friends who are a grade ahead—and, therefore, the voices of experience in all matters eighth grade. “I know exactly what classes I want to take.” Ok, then.
- There’s always a parade. This Sunday will be their final day of Deer Valley Adventure Club for the season. There will be, of course, a triumphant parade, with a DJ and the phenomenal resort mascot team of Silver, Ruby, Bucky and Quincy. Every year, my kids’ appearances are later and later in the parade—the youngest skiers go first, and my boys are now 8 and 12, in mixed-age groups of advanced and expert skiers. And watching every single group of kids ski down the parade route on Wide West ski run, with cheering parents lined up along the side of it, never, ever gets old.