Vashon Ski School is in its 60th year. I think the board does an amazing job of keeping this program together--and the kids organized!
Think about it: you've got about 5 different options of participation--lessons and bus only; bus only (if you're a season pass holder); lessons, bus, and season pass; gear rental with or without lessons, etc. Somehow, it all gets figured out between leaving the high school gym lot in school buses and getting to the Summit at Snoqualmie, where the school has operated for decades.
People who know I chaperone the trips have asked about it for their own kids. If you're googling VSS and you've stumbled on this blog for the same, I would tell you this:
-One private lesson can do the work of many group lessons
for first-timers. If you're a pro, do it yourself. If not, look to the experts. This will save on costs and there are plenty of practice areas not involving the ski lift (rope tows, magic carpet) to start.
-In the first year, do a season rental at the Summit
. This is a wonderful program in which the resort has your child's precision rental gear labeled and reserved for immediate pickup on the ski/board day. No waiting in that over-crowded hell that is rentals on the weekend. Plus kids grow out of gear so FAST. If the child isn't into it, you haven't spent a fortune. (just $99!)
-Get the ski helmet
first. The local fire dept sells em cheap--dont even THINK of paying retail at a ski shop when you can get em at a fraction of the cost locally. Helmets are mandatory (even for chaperones!) so don't try to slip on the ski bus without one.
-If you have a child who is a free spirit and needs a lot of structure, and you're not sure they're going to be okay alone (translation: without YOU), it's important to give them a checklist
of their gear (VSS has a HUGE lost and found due to forgetful chillins) and make it easy for them to get on and off the hill. If you've forgotten a glove or goggles, VSS has used spares for day use in its lost and found.
-MEALS: About half the kids bring their own
, which they must retrieve from the ski bus in the lot OR from a pay locker they set up independently. Other parents load kids with cash
to finance a $12 meal of a burger, fries and soda. For season pass holders, one can load money to an account
online through the resort and it scans at the concessions, debiting the account.
-If you buy a pass, unless your child is an expert skiier or plans to ski nights, I suggest the purchase of an L-T-D pass
, which limits the holder to Summit only, daytime only and excludes Alpental. The pass is a savings compared to day lift costs if you aggregate it over the amount of times you go up with VSS. The least you'll spend is a season pass and bus rides (219+110 for under 13), if you have your own gear and bring lunch.
! Many of our hormonally unstable adolescents take the ski trips as Carte Blanche to exercise a bit of obnoxious behavior--girls and boys! Many are the kids of our town's business leaders from good families. Such outbursts make chaperones like me wonder if some of these soon-to-be-adults are systematically ignored and undisciplined by default. That said, there are many sweet kids or laid back, who help keep the others in check.
-Buses are age-separated
, depending on participants: this year (08)had a grades 2-6 bus; a middle school bus; and a high school age bus. It went pretty well!
: if you can collaborate for your child to have a buddy, you're golden! It is strongly recommended for not just companionship, but also safety.
Good luck and happy skiing (and snowboarding)!