Teaching Children

Castleford Kids Camp

Having obtained my BASI Alpine Level 1 qualification and licence I would need to complete a further 35 hours of shadowing should I wish to go on and do my BASI Alpine Level 2. With it now being March my choices of places to go for shadowing were becoming limited; I was left with either Southern Hemisphere resorts (not an option), or indoor slopes.

I had already used the indoor slope at Manchester ChillFactor for shadowing and wanting to gain the most from my shadowing I opted to choose a different slope; Castleford near Leeds.

Castleford is my nearest slope. At a journey time of 1 1/2 hours each way it’s still quite a distance but depsite this I ski there regularly and know several of the team. I approached the manager and was given shadowing on the Children’s School Holiday Camp (kids camp) over Easter.

In the holiday camps children aged 7-15 years not only get the opportunity to learn a brand new sport and meet new friends they also get to learn brand new life skills through mini-medics, an accredited first aid course for children! There is also a keep fit Zumba session.

Each day is packed full of fun.  The children learn to ski or snowboard followed by a hot lunch and then head back out onto the slopes before taking part in off snow sessions such as the mini medics, a keep fit Zumba session or sign language lessons. Sign language bingo is great fun !

The camps are available for beginners or experienced skiers and snowboarders. 


NHS commitments meant I was only able to join the camp Tuesday to Friday. I found it was a large group of children; skiers, snowboarders, beginners and intermediates. I was kitted out with Snozone ski instructor clothing and allocated to the beginners on the practice slope. If you are a qualified instructor reading this you will know how useful it can be having a helper in a beginners class. Having me to help meant that the beginner group could be pealed off to the main slope in groups of seven more easily. If there was someone not quite ready to progress to the main slope I was there to stay with them on the practice area for that little bit longer. I quickly developed a ‘cling-on’. It started with an occasional tug at my clothing, then holding onto my clothing, then me. Of course the inevitable also happened where at the end of the day you find yourself not only carrying all the skis and sticks but a child as well. Cling-ons ! I have decided that if you want to be a childrens ski instructor it is either helpful to be an octopus or have the ability to grow at least one extra arm !!

I fitted in quickly, both with the instructors and with the children. I typically stayed with the beginners and lower intermediates when out on the slope. After lunch, those not wanting to ski from the top of the slope would ski with me from the half-way point. Again, it was proving useful having me around.

By the end of the week all my beginners were coming down from the top of the main slope. Occasionally I could be heard shouting ‘Pizza’ as I chased down the slope after a child who was only just in control. Children can be easily distracted, especially when all they want to know is what their friends are doing. When one of the children skiing with me decided they wanted to go over the jump without either telling me first or waiting for me to be there they got a real telling off from me. They promptly burst into tears. Oops !

As a childrens ski instructor you learn to expect the unexpected. This was indeed the case with one of my Snozone colleagues teaching on the kids camp. Feeling the need to relieve herself she had gone to the toilet. Her group had other ideas. Finding the instructor had locked the toilet door they simply picked the lock.

‘What are you doing ?’ (kids)

‘Having a pee. How the … ?’ (instructor)

‘We picked the lock !’ (kids)

‘Can you go away ?’ (instructor)

‘Can we watch ?’ (kids)

‘No you can’t !’ (instructor)

I love skiing with children and teaching them. You can progress them so quickly. It’s also a good excuse to be a little bit silly.

BASI Teaching Children

Once a year BASI run a Teaching Children CPD course (training course). As always, nothing I do with BASI is ever straight forward. It runs only once a year and so when BASI cancelled the previous one I had been booked onto I was not impressed. This time, however, it would go ahead. In the run up to the training day I had been injured whilst skiing with Disability Snowsports UK. Whilst doing an uplift of a bucketed bi-ski my skis had pre-released, both of them, forcing me to take the decision to put myself and my passenger backwards into the wall for safety reasons. Unfortunately when people came to help they hadn’t realised I was tethered to the bi-ski in a harness and as they pulled the bi-ski off me my back was twisted. I was still in pain and unable to turn left when skiing. It was going to make the day interesting to say the least.

I know a lot of BASI trainers / examiners and had been trying to work out which one was delivering the course. BASI are not allowed to tell you who your trainer is but quite a lot of the time I can take an educated guess. It turned out to be Gareth Shelbourne. I’d previously met Gareth whilst skiing at Manchester ChillFactor earlier in the year but this was the first time with him on a BASI course. If I kept moving my back was fine but standing still whilst Gareth talked was giving me problems, especially in a cold environment. When he got me to try tic-tac it was hopeless. I really can’t tic-tac, not even close to being able to do it. My brain just gets confused.

The day was really good. Full of useful tips on how to teach children and a chance to be a bit silly. It’s quite funny skiing behind a BASI trainer / examiner as they make mock farting noises whilst they ski down the slope. By lunchtime my pain was really bad and unable to turn left when skiing I dropped out.

For anyone who teaches children as a ski instructor I would recommend doing the course. You can also download the Teaching Children to Ski booklet from the BASI website.


To come:

Adaptive Level 1 or Alpine Level 2 ??

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