Many secondary schools offer their pupils a chance to go on a ski trip, usually for those upward of Year 8 and beyond (age 13 and older). Most UK schools travel to Europe (Austria, France and Italy are popular) but some will go to North America. Often trips can be expensive and range anywhere between £700 – £1500 depending upon location of the trip and mode of travel. For a number of parents who do not ski or snowboard it is a chance to let the kids experience something different, but it can be a worry particularly when stories about accidents and even deaths of children on activity trips make the headlines. So what are the benefits of letting your kids venture away from the familiar and the influence of family?
- Learning a new skill increases confidence.
- Experiencing a different country and culture and possibly a new language opens the mind to new possibilities and broadens horizons.
- Feeling inspired by the beautiful mountain scenery and snow-covered vistas which never fail to lift the spirit.
- Sharing new experiences with friends helps to cement relationships.
The above is all very well but how does it work in practice? Welcome to mother and daughter, Rosemary and Ellie respectively, who agreed to answer some searching questions about their experiences. Rosemary works as a teacher in north east England and is mum to three children, of which Ellie is the oldest at 15.
What made you decide you wanted to go on a school skiing trip Ellie? Something I’ve always wanted to do, and when I knew it was in America I definitely wanted to go.
Where did you go on your trip and does the school always go to this resort? We went to Loon and Cannon Mountain, USA. It was the first time the school had ventured to the USA as they usually head to Europe. The parents were asked which country they would prefer, and taking into account the cost of the trip America won! We had six days skiing with another day for shopping and sightseeing in Boston.
Rosemary, as a parent, what are the benefits of Ellie going on a school skiing trip? Peer support is important as is ‘independent’ travel outside of a family holiday. This trip was closely planned and monitored by staff so it felt safe.
Did you both have any worries prior to starting the trip, and if so what? (Mum) The week before Ellie was due to travel a pilot flew the plane he was flying into the side of the French Alps, killing all of the passengers, then a little boy died skiing off the side of the piste a few days later. I was already worried about terrorists blowing up the plane, so this didn’t help my frame of mind! The travel times were extremely long too, and this coupled with the holiday being physically demanding I was worried Ellie would be too tired to enjoy herself. I had also wondered whether Ellie was of a sufficient standard to actually ski proficiently and not spend the week learning how to stand on skis.
(Ellie) My best friend had to drop out at the last minute, so I was worried about my friendship group and whether I was going to be in a ski-group all by myself. I was concerned about the food and whether I would like any of it! And I was also worried that I was going to be injured.
What were the best bits of the holiday? I made some amazing new friends that I can share some unforgettable memories with, but definitely the best bit was the skiing.
What were the worst bits of the holiday? One of the younger girls had fallen out with her friends so she decided to share a room with me and my friends, but because I was in a double bed on my own I was made to share with her. Let’s just say she was very close!
Ellie, have you got any tips for other pupils wanting to go on a school skiing trip? Definitely go to either a dry ski slope or an indoor snow centre and get lessons prior to the trip. Then you’ll not spend all holiday on the nursery slopes.
Rosemary, have you got any tips for other parents whose children want to go skiing?
- Find out as much as you can about the trip before the holiday.
- Pack the bag with your child as they will have to do it on the return journey when you’re not there!
- Separate money into different envelopes such as food (paper clip for individual days if necessary), spending money and emergency money.
- Photocopy all documents such as visas and passports and give a set to your child and keep one at home just in case.
- Borrow as much kit as you can from lovely friends and family; it can be very expensive especially if they only use it once!
A huge thank you to Rosemary and Ellie for sharing their experiences and their sage advice (mummysnowboarder t-shirts will shortly be winging their way to you). If you would like to look at an alternative view from a teacher’s perspective click here. I know most school trips do not include snowboarding as an option, but with the explosion of younger children learning to snowboard there will come a time when you will have kids who can ride rather than ski. Is it right and fair to exclude them? If not, then is it just to continue with this practice? Will schools ever offer snowboarding as an option on a school wintersports trip? I would like to think that in the future they will become more inclusive and allow kids who already snowboard to come along and participate in their chosen sport. After all if this little-un below can mini-shred at one year old, there will be more that will follow in his tracks.