What’s it like to be an Instructor at Vail’s Kids Ski and Snowboard School?
Being a kids ski and snowboard instructor can seem like the most fun job ever – ripping around Vail Mountain with a small platoon of aspiring Lindsey Vonns, endless hot cocoa – but it can also take a lot of energy and patience.
So what makes a great kids ski and snowboard instructor? We spoke with Vail Kids Ski Instructor, Janet Lawrence, to get the story on why teaching kids to ski has become a lifelong passion.
1) Name, hometown and how long you’ve been skiing/riding
My hometown is Schenectady, NY- if you can pronounce that correctly you get a prize! I’ve been skiing…. A long time, since I was three….we’ll just say I’ve been skiing for three less years than I am old.
2) How long have you been a kids instructor at Vail Ski and Snowboard School?
This is my 18th year as a kid’s instructor/ ski school supervisor. You could tell me it’s been 5 years and I’d believe you. Time flies when you’re having this much fun!
3) How does it differ from teaching adult Ski School?
Adults are fine, and everyone is a kid at heart, but kids are kids; usually a lot less intimidated, (they have a shorter distance to fall, and often think it’s funny when they do). They find joy in the smallest things- snow dumping on their heads is almost as funny as snow dumping on their friend’s head. They learn quickly and love adventure, big or small.
4) What initially drew you to the job?
My folks gave me skiing and I get to keep it all my life. I wanted to ski and bring skiing to as many kids as I could. There is nothing greater than seeing a child fall in love with being outside on a snowy winter day, thrilling in conquering something they never thought they could do, and having the adventures of their lives.
5) What makes a good ski/snowboard instructor for kids?
Most importantly you need to enjoy children. We are all working on our skiing and teaching skills all the time. If you sincerely enjoy children you will love this job and be great at it!
6) What keeps you coming back each winter?
There is always some child, or some moment that makes your whole winter. When your student has that big breakthrough in their skiing, or tells you they just had the best day of their whole lives, that is what makes the job great. As a Supervisor, it is hearing our instructors choke up over one of those moments that gets me. That’s an instructor who did a great job and who loves their great job !
7) What’s one of your most memorable experiences from teaching?
There are many. But years ago when I was a Development Team coach I looked over my shoulder at my 8 year old skiers and one at a time I could see their skiing change right in front of my eyes. When we pulled over every one of us knew they had all just reached a new level, all at the same time. It was amazing and we played with their new skill the rest of the winter. I knew they were hooked. They would be lifelong skiers and love it as much as I do!
Interested in introducing your child to a lifetime of of skiing? Check out the Vail Ski and Snowboard School.
Janet Lawrence, of the Vail Ski and Snowboard School, 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.