After all- My desk is “ski- in,ski-out”.
Could this be Legal??
This is Colorado….I have a job, with a company, Vail Resorts, that has worked diligently to identify and live by its 6 Core Values and one of them is …(wait for it..) “Have Fun”! I don’t know of any other job where you are evaluated on having fun!! Now there are some very reasonable, logical parameters to this but still.
So, in my job as part of the management team of the biggest, and arguably the best Ski School in the country, it’s not all recreation and party time. There are all the usual components of management; hiring, scheduling, meetings, training, personnel issues, pay processing etc. But then there’s the rest of it:
The Office- As we stand in our skis atop the summit, or should I say any one of the many summits of Vail, we get to boast that “this is our office”. It’s no “corner office” of course, but only because it has no corners.
Special Events- Every Thursday we set up a little Giant Slalom course at Golden Peak’s base for our newer skiers. The course should take about 30 seconds to complete but time and speed don’t really matter. Conquering this course when you have just conquered making complete turns is a huge accomplishment in itself. Even after years of putting this race on, I can’t help but get a great thrill when I see a 9 yr. old racer throw his little arms in the air, victorious, after crossing the finish line in 1 minute, 15 seconds and .05. Don’t get me wrong, the little rippers who carve and tear up my course in record time give me a thrill as well.
Motivating workers- Instructors who work here, came to this place because they very much wanted to! Our staff is nothing if not passionate for skiing and ski instruction. Keeping this kind of staff motivated is not such a tough job- don’t tell my bosses. In life, we don’t often get to choose all our co-workers but working with people who love the same things you do, and hold the same things valuable as we get to, is a true gift!
Preparing for the outdoors- When I can, I help out the younger kids get re-suited after lunch. It usually all goes to plan, (I am a master at zippers and helmet clasps), until Ripperroo, the Vail mascot, makes an appearance. You may as well have thrown a box of jumping, cuddly, puppies into the room. Instantly I’m deserted as the kids make frantic efforts to get to hug him, yank his tail or try to peer into his eyes to see for sure if he’s real. On returning to me, all focus is lost. I’ve had a girl who, purposely put her jacket on upside down, and a boy who blind folded himself by putting his hoodie on backwards, just for giggles. What other job reminds you what pure, silly, joy looks like.
Launching Classes- Each morning our classes take a warm up run and then ski down to sign out for the day with me. I have one instructor who brings me a clump of snow, my “snow cookie”, every morning on his way down. With his class, we stare at it and decide what it looks like; Nebraska? , A Timber Wolf? the “Miss Budweiser” speed boat? Why not- other people dream about cloud formations, we dream about snow!
Overseeing classes- In the afternoon I can patrol around the trails where I’m likely to find and check on our classes. Just the other day, I found myself singing (in my very best Kermit the Frog voice) “Climb Every Mountain”, while skiing up a side hill with a little class. They may have thought I had lost my marbles, but I spotted little smiles under those goggles.
Daily review- At day’s end I work the check- out desk. In the process I ask each instructor how their day was. The answers vary but the theme is the same. Invariably I hear: “Amazing!”, “Great day!”, “These kids were awesome!” Sure there are some days that are trickier than others, but I can testify those are rare next to, “Best day ever!”
On my days off do I ski? Does a bear….? After all, my desk is “ski- in,ski-out”.
So I think we all do pretty well with the “Have Fun” requirement of our jobs. Then we get to bring that to our students and it all just multiplies! Could this be too much fun to be legal?
Author: Janet Lawrence, of the Vail Ski and Snowboard School. Janet grew up skiing in Upstate New York and came to Vail in 1997. She has been working in the Vail Ski and Snowboard School since, first as an instructor then a Trainer and a Supervisor in the Golden Peak Children’s School. In the off- season she sails and bikes and works with children at an outdoor day camp