Nick, been there - things look up when the kids start taking lessons. Life gets great when they get good enough to keep up with you and you actually really ski together. Not long thereafter you'll find you can't keep up with them ... at least that's how I'm experiencing the progression ...
I picked up this up from another thread (obviously) and it pressed a button for me (in a good way)!
BTW we have four boys!
Looking back, skiing with our kids has been a wonderful experience! We started them off young around 4 and our youngest was tethered by me at 2 and a half. When our youngest was an infant we skied about 6-10 times per season while he stayed with his memere! Once he turned 2 and half well the seasons opened up! Tethering was a lot of work but was well worth it!
At 3-4 lessons were in order for all of them and for you new parents - get the lessons close together. Our youngest had three lessons at 3 and a half that were on back to back to back days and the results were outstanding. He was making parallel turns on the third day and never looked back after that! The other boys were spread out and, though they did well, it took more time and lessons! Early season half day camps work well too (a way to low cost private lessons for three hours)! While the kids are learning, it becomes a time when you become a gloating parent and are super excited about you new winter sport prospect!
From 4 up to the age of 6 is a strong developmental stage! Since our youngest was able to join us, we upped our game and started skiing 20-25 time per season and eventually 30+ (finding deals were critical and still is to this day). Ride and Ski was a great deal for us! All of our boys, through this stage progressed nicely and every parent thinks their kids are the best, and you should! Happiness factor increases for the parents!
By seven years old the kids are cranking and I can take them down almost any trail and they are not snowplowing! We are in the glades, hitting bumps and jumps, and making top to bottom runs without much stopping. They now make mom up her game too! Skiing as a family, at this stage is super fun and the stories abound. It would get a little chaotic getting ready or even out the door with four boys but rewarding at the same time! The only thing that was missing at this stage was their speed, oh and wind was a speed killer to since they were so little. At this stage skiing is “all out” fun and we are now pushing the 30 visits per year! In addition, the parents are now envisioning their kids future in this sport! We had dreams!
By 10-12 ish, the speed factor is there, skills are further developed and jumps – well they are going much bigger! Parks become more interesting and at this stage we are all over the mountain. Now the kids are making dad step up his park game! I never was too interested in the parks but with kids – I had to go there! Sadly, this is also a stage where our oldest boys wanted to become more independent and all of those rules (meeting at trails junctions, skiing in pairs through the woods, etc.) were going to be of value; we set the example early on! Walkie talkies (now cell phones) are important! If you use walkie talkies then get the encoded type so you will effectively have your own air space. But we stopped using them about 4-5 years ago and switched to cell phones! This is the stage where the parents begin to have independence and you can ski date again sort of!
By 14-15 the older boys are bigger and constant challenges are put up so see if they can beat dad on top to bottom runs (I still have a weight advantage). When those did not work for them, they challenged me to the parks – they win! My wife, a reluctant black diamond skier was now being pulled in that direction on every trip and she is improving rapidly as well.
While our older boys are in the mid teens, our youngest at this point is around 8 and he is also being dragged in every direction! Incidentally, at 7 he switched to snowboarding. Word to the wise – if you child’s school has a winter sports program – use it! When he switched, he would take the snowboard lessons during the school program and ski while with us (he was a great skier) on weekends. The following season, we let him switch 100% of the time to snowboarding since he adapted to that rather quickly! He was now snowboarding following older brothers that ski! That did not stop the older brothers from pursuing difficult terrain - they were great, making sure he was getting though the tough spots. In groomers, he would fly on his snowboard and keep up with all of us (for the most part- not quite as fast). Following his brothers through the parks and in the woods and through other challenging terrain made him really good today (he is now 10).
Sadly, at 17-18 the boys have jobs and are more interested in skiing with friends making occasional trips with the family! However, even when skiing with the family – they show up to eat and make the obligatory runs! We always make sure that we all ski part of the day together – we pay for it right? Their freeskiing/adventurer interests push them to new heights – literally! Backcountry, with skis on their backs takes precedence! Skiing Face Chutes, Green Beret, Valhalla, powder on Andres Paridise and Beaver Pond or any of the best glades at Jay Peak are their idea of skiing! Jay Peak is family consensus – 100% approve! I learned to ski there and my family has my affinity for Jay Peak! One of our boys has become a ski instructor and enjoys doing it which has also pulled him away from family day trips unless we mention Jay Peak, Killington, Sunday River, Sugarbush, etc.
Now! Even more sadly, at 18 the kids move on with their lives (we have two and onther right on their tails) – they are no longer home and 1 by 1 they fall off the parent’s ski train! We look back at those times when we all skied together and laugh at the experiences that did not turn out so great, the things our kids have done, places we have been and how they learned over the years! They now have a tool in their future family arsenal that they too can use to keep the family together. It is the one thing that we do where our older kids will gladly go – just mention Jay Peak and they are in! For those who have left and those about to leave, the discussions about skiing together again turn to our youngest turning 12 so maybe, just maybe, we can plan a family trip to go heli ski or head to Chile or Japan! We shall see!
BTW, my wife started skiing around the same time as my teens! Though she was often tenative about steeper trails and tricky situations, she now loves those types of experiences and technically is equiped enough to get out of most east coast situations. Oddly enough - she never took a lesson - we taught her!
So all in all – for those of you who have little ones – enjoy the 6-14 age it is the best window. Do not put off teaching them this great sport that we all enjoy – the years will go by fast! Once they learn, they will progress quickly and before you know it they will want to be skiing with friends (once in a while with you too)! I have many friends who wish they would have got their kids into skiing/snowboarding – my answer – Start now!
I am curious about other’s experiences any good stories?