Taking older kids on a ski holiday
You may have seen our recent article offering advice for taking children skiing? We took a look at the stresses of taking young children on a winter mountain holiday, the wonder and the challenge of it all. Any parent with teenage children will find that advice truly unsuitable, like rabbits and wolverines a 7yr old is a different animal to a 16yr old and different rules apply. Now we’re not saying for a minute that we have the answer to taking teenagers to the mountains but we hope we can share a few tips and solutions that can take the edge off the challenge.
We’d also like to take a moment to qualify our view of teenagers. This is general advice looking at the worst case scenario for teenagers on their bad days, we know many young folks are mature, polite and use good judgement but even they have their moments. Speaking for myself, I was an overconfident thrill-seeking lout and worried the life out of my parents throwing myself around the pistes and bars for a week without showing the proper gratitude for all they’d provided. As I grew up, the gratitude did too and looking back, they were some of the best times and I’m glad my parents suffered taking me out there. If this article can make it a little easier for other parents with teenagers, it can ease my guilt for the ski resort sins of my youth.
Our tips for parents.
Protective gearTeenagers can be invulnerable, right up to the point when they have a bad time. They may not want to use it and they may not properly consider it at the time but protective equipment is important when coasting down the pistes but if you go off the piste or visit the snowpark it becomes essential. Helmets stand alone as a vital precaution and especially for anyone taking off, grinding down or making tracks off the piste. However investment in protective gear can make all the difference. Wrist guards, back protectors and bum protection are all designed to resist particular types of injury and any snowboarder doing 50:50 on a rail will tell you that the bum protection is a real life saver.
Snowpark lessonsIf you’ve got winter sports teenagers, it’s likely you’ve shelled out for lessons already and they know how to get around the mountain. Rather than stick to what they know many young girls and boys want to push the limit, getting off the ground and showing off. Like anything dangerous, freestyle skiing and snowboarding is best done with some instruction from those that know how. To keep your adrenaline junky kids in one piece and flying high, snowpark lessons might be just the thing. You might not be able to stop them taking risks but you can help them benefit from the experience of experts before they do.
Try holding the cameraYoutube is full of skiers and snowboarders crashing holding out a GoPro on a stick. If you’re worried about your youngsters showing off for the camera, why not try going along and being the one to hold it? It’ll give them one less thing to think about and at least if they stack it, you’ll be right there to laugh, sympathise and of course film it all. Want to impress them with your camera work? Check out our article on filming skiing and snowboarding and you could help them go viral on Youtube, which of course to them is the greatest thing in the whole world.
Off piste disciplineThere’s no getting around it. Youngsters reach an age where they are going to go where they want to go and do what they want to do. In a ski resort that might include heading off piste and you have to hope they have the sense to stick to the rules and act responsibly. Any enthusiastic winter sports teen will have watched the YouTube videos of off piste heroes and it’s likely they’ll want a go. Education and training is what we prescribe. As winter sports kids grow up continually reinforcing good practise and going over the risks of going off piste is important to building a healthy sense of fear, there are YouTube videos for that too and some are quite chilling. In addition to instruction, some real experience can help. Go off piste the right way with schools like Oxygene or New Generations and let them learn how much safety and planning goes into Youtube superstar off-piste videos.
Tracking themWhen it comes to tracking teenagers there are two approaches, track them by consent or track them by subterfuge. There are a range of tracking methods available and tacking by consent is of course the simplest and least morally ambiguous approach. Ski tracker apps, mappings apps like Fatmap and native apps like Find Friends can all provide location tracking. However your teenager will likely know how to turn the tracking off (Airplane mode should do it in most cases). The art of secretly tracking your teenagers is tricky and dependent on their devices and habits, you can take a look at this Huffpost article if you’re ready to play the spy-game in the name of safety.
Control the purse stringsOnce they reach a certain age youngsters will be wanting spending money and especially when on holiday. Sometimes a parent needs every trick in the book to keep a handle on their not so youngsters and controlling the cash can be a vital strategy. Currency cards for ski holidays have many benefits but for families there are some bonus features. Parents can take out a card for each family member and decant funds to the cards at their leisure from a phone app. Not only does this give parents the power to ration spending money for teenagers, it leaves a helpful digital trail of spending and the all important option of cutting them off. Family currency cards are the secret weapon of parents taking teenagers away to the mountains.
Catered chalet means they have to eat with youSometimes getting your teenagers to eat dinner with the family is a challenge. If you’re eating out in the resort at night, many a cheeky teen has opted to sneak off around the town with their dinner money. After all, it can be so uncool to be out with Mum and Dad.
A catered chalet can be a useful tool. By putting the delicious food out in the evening back at the lodge, it gives you a good chance that the young ones will stick around in the chalet at least until dessert has been served. Our Mountain Heaven menu is crafted to be both nutritious and delicious, able to fuel teenagers on the slopes and out on the town.
This game is chess, it’s not checkers.