Mountain Spy

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In this Mountain Spy, Liz Eren put on her Mom hat again and called around to see how she should prepare her son for a community ski program. Responses were lukewarm, but we did have a tie for the winner—they had small deductions for no website mentions.

Question: I live in a nearby community and just signed my son up for a town ski camp with you. I'm not a skier at all so I'm wondering what I should do to prepare him?


Mountain 1, MA

Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: OK. And he's never skied before?
SAM: Not really. My husband has taken him there maybe once or twice just to mill around, but this is why we signed him to get his more comfortable with it.
Staff: He's signed up with a school or something?
SAM: Nope, it's through our town. They have a program for the kids.
Staff: OK. When does it start?
SAM: Next week.
Staff: OK. Well, um, is he taking a lesson?
SAM: I'm not sure, I assume. I mean it's the town ski camp so they all go in a group and part of it is for him to learn how to ski, but I'm not sure exactly how the lesson part is set up.
Staff: OK. Soo, um, if he's taking a lesson they're going to group him by his ability so you won't really have to get him ready for that. They'll take care of it. Because if he's a total beginner he'll be with people his same age and ability. I mean if you want to bring him out this weekend so he feels more comfortable if he tries it out first.
SAM: I could, sure, but I have a few friends who have their kids in this program so I'm confident he'll be OK with the other kids. I just didn't know if there was anything specific I should know before I send him off.
Staff: Nope! Nope! Just make sure he has his winter clothing and that's it. (Silence...)
SAM: Um, OK then. Thanks.

Rating: 3
Comment: I ended the call with more questions than I had at the beginning.


Mountain 2, MA

Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: What's, uh, for tonight?
SAM: No, next week.
Staff: Oh, um, and how old is he?
SAM: He's 10.
Staff: So he, um, needs to be layered. (Silence...) Are they coming at night?
SAM: No, it's an after-school program, so he'll be there early afternoon.
Staff: OK. So he just needs to be layered with a regular ski jacket and hat and gloves. And maybe a snack and something to drink. That's what we give my grandson. (Silence...)
SAM: OK, I can do that.
Staff: Yeah that's it. And of course make sure he has a helmet.
SAM: Great, thanks.

Rating: 5
Comment: Good attitude, but she could have given me slightly more information.


Mountain 3, CO

Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Ha ha ha.
SAM: I know it's an open-ended question!
Staff: No, no, I think it's a really good question! That's actually very smart of you. Is it with our ski school program?
SAM: You know, I'm not sure. My husband signed him up, but it's just a group of kids from our town and they bring them up to your area. I know they're going to be taking lessons, but unfortunately I don't know the details of the lesson itself. I was just wondering if there's anything I need to do for him before I send him off?
Staff: You know, my advice would be to make sure he has water, sunblock, a snack if it's going to be after school just because he's going to want some energy obviously, and then make sure he has enough layers. Just like my mother always used to say, you can always take a layer off, but you can never put one on!
SAM: Sure thing, thanks. I assume it's a lot colder up there.
Staff: Yeah, just throw an extra sweatshirt in. I would actually just pack him a backpack. And like I said, just like a snack. And the sunblock I would say is even more crucial. Because even if it isn't sunny out, just like with the winds or if it's snowing, sunblock is helpful. I put sunblock on every single day no matter what the weather is because I think it really saves my skin with all the elements on the mountain.
SAM: Sounds good, thanks! I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything.
Staff: Um, I would think that would be it for the most part. As far as ski rentals go, does he have rentals through the program?
SAM: He does, yes. They're taking care of all of that. But I will be sure to pack him a backpack and include everything you recommended.
Staff: Yeah, I think especially the water part. Because even if he doesn't drink it while he's skiing, after he gets off the hill is kind of when your body starts screaming at you! Ha ha ha.
SAM: Definitely, thanks!
Staff: No problem, have a great weekend!

Rating: 8.5
Comment: Tons of enthusiasm. She makes me believe my son will have fun there. And she made a personal connection. If she wears sunblock everyday, then so will my son (if I had one)! 


Mountain 4, VT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Oook. He’s a begginer skier?
SAM: He is, yes.
Staff: OK. As like what you should do for the lessons or what are you looking for?
SAM: Well, I guess just how should I prepare him before I send him off on the bus with the other kids. I just don’t ski whatsoever so that’s why I’m calling you guys.
Staff: OK. Well let me put you through to the ski school office and they would know better considering his age and ability.
SAM: Thanks.
Hold time: 5 minutes!
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Restated question.
Staff: Um, OK. So layers. Of like, you mean like outfit-wise?
SAM: For starters.
Staff: Ok, so you’re just gonna want the right gear. So, I would recommend layers of water-resistant, or waterproof fleece snow pants, waterproof gloves. Um, depending on how cold it is, you’ll want a facemask, goggles, umm…
SAM: OK.
Staff: And, like thick, Smartwool socks, something like that. And, um, does he already have equipment?
SAM: Yes, the group has already taken care of that.
Staff: OK. So um, just as long as you dress him properly, like you would dress him on a snowy day. Just in case he does get wet, he’ll be in fabrics that dry out quickly. And yeah, like a hat. Definitely a hat.
SAM: I’ll make sure he has all of that. Thanks!

Rating: 5
Comment: Um, like, ski school wasn’t a huge help either. Fleece snow pants?

Mountain 5, VT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Hold on please. Holding…
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Restated question.
Staff: Hmm. As far as, like, what to wear?
SAM: Yeah, that’s a start.
Staff: OK. Does he have snow pants, ski pants, how old is he?
SAM: He’s ten.
Staff: OK, and has he skied before?
SAM: Barely. My husband has brought him up once or twice to mess around, but that’s why we have him in this group.
Staff: OK. So you want to make sure he’s warmly dressed. You know, good socks, snow pants, ski pants kind of thing. A couple of layers to keep them warm. It’s good to layer them up in case it’s cold and if they get hot they can take a layer off. Some kind of nice, well not nice, but warm snow jacket.
SAM: OK.
Staff: A hat.
SAM: OK.
Staff: Does he have a helmet?
SAM: No, but is that something he should get?
Staff: He should, but he can also rent one. Um, if you like at our rentals it’s just $5 a day. And if you think he’s going to like doing it you might want to invest in one. For kids they’re only $40 to $50.
SAM: Sure. I’ll check with the group organizer to see if they’ll be renting helmets for the kids.
Staff: Yeah, that would be good. And then some warm mitts. And I would suggest mittens versus gloves. That’s just my preference because mittens keep your hands a lot warmer. When are they coming?
SAM: They start in about two weeks.
Staff: Yeah! Well then I think that would probably cover it. Am I missing anything? Ha! Or if you had any questions while I went over theother stuff. Ha!
SAM: I think that’s a good start, thanks!
Staff: Sure! And just tell him to have fun!

Rating: 8.5
Comment: A helpful attitude is appreciated, as well as wishing him to have fun. And she suggested a helmet, which always makes a mother feel good.


Mountain 6, CO

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: For, is it for a lesson?
SAM: Well, he’ll be taking a lesson with the group, but I just wanted to make sure he was properly prepared or if there was anything I should know.
Staff: OK. Does he have a ski package? Does he have skis, boots, board bindings?
SAM: You know he doesn’t have his own equipment, but I think the group is taking care of that for all the kids.
Staff: OK. So with the rental package here we provide the skis, boots and poles if needed and the helmet is an additional $11. It is highly recommended especially for first-time skiers. Mmmk?
SAM: Sure. Is that something he would need to get or should I check with the group leader?
Staff: I would check with the group leader. It’s possible you might be able to purchase that through them for the event. Or maybe you can send him up with a little bit of money and he can get that for himself. Oook? And also, um, waterproof snow gear, socks, pants, jacket, gloves, hat, scarf, goggles, possibly. Mmmk?
SAM: Sure.
Staff: He would really only need goggles if we were blowing snow.
SAM: OK, so you don’t think he needs them?
Staff: I wouldn’t be able to tell if we were going to be blowing snow. It is a possibility, but if we were, it would be very hard for him to see. When is he coming?
SAM: In the next few weeks.
Staff: Yeah no, um yeah, it’s very hard to tell, I wouldn’t be able to tell if we were going to be blowing snow. But, um, we do not rent goggles here so you would have to purchase them separately. And then maybe a duffel bag with a change of clothes in case they come in here to have some food. And then a little bit of money for lockers to put his belongings in. And I usually come up with a bottle of water at least, just to stay hydrated throughout the day. Mmmk?
SAM: Sounds good, I can take care of all of that. Thanks!

Rating: 6
Comment: Good information, but mmmk?


Mountain 7, PA

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Umm, he’s never done this before?
SAM: Not really.
Staff: OK, hold on one second. Transferred…
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: OK, did you sign him up for the X group, the four Saturdays? Or what did you sign him up for?
SAM: It’s just a simple after school trip one afternoon a week.
Staff: OK. All right. I’m not familiar with it, but hopefully I can answer some questions for your What exactly were you looking for?
SAM: Just what you think he should come prepared with.
Staff: Um, are they going to be having a lesson?
SAM: Yes.
Staff: Then really all you need to do is make sure he has the proper weather-wear. Snow pants, warm gloves, um, you know, maybe a pair of goggles or sunglasses, something to wear if they’re blowing the snow.
SAM: OK.
Staff: If you want him to wear a helmet you can rent them here. They’re $12. Or I don’t know if you have a helmet that he can wear if you want him to wear one. Um, other than that you really don’t need to do much to prepare him. They’re going to just bring him up here and bring them through rentals. And if the group is together they’ll direct them outside and have them take the lesson.
SAM: OK great. Does any helmet work or is there a specific ski helmet?
Staff: Um well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a ski helmet specifically, but it just needs to be protective. They’re not required, but if you have a helmet there that you think would work you can do that. Um, but like I said, they do have ski rental helmets here.
SAM: So you think he should rent a helmet when he gets there?
Staff: Um, probably. We’re always going to suggest to err on the side of caution.
SAM: Sure, thanks. I’ll check with the group leader to see if that’s included.
Staff: Absolutely. Those groups can have all different kinds of packages so I would check with them first. And once he’s here they’ll take him through the whole rental process and get him situated so he’s ready to go!
SAM: Thanks!

Rating: 6
Comment: Whew. For a second there she had me believing a bike helmet would do the trick!


Mountain 8, N.C.

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Ok. You signed him up for the camp?
SAM: No, it’s just a little town group that takes the kids up after school one day a week.
Staff: OK. And you wanted to know what he should be wearing, stuff like that?
SAM: Yeah, that’s a start. I’m just not at all a skier so I don’t want to send him to the mountain unprepared.
Staff: He’ll need goggles. He’ll definitely need something to cover his face and protect him from any windburn. Definitely gloves as well. Um, bibs, and a thick jacket. I know it’s hot outside, but when he falls in the snow it does get really cold!
SAM: OK, absolutely.
Staff: So, he definitely needs to bundle up and cover his face so he doesn’t get windburn. And I know it’s winter, but sunscreen as well. If he doesn’t cover his face, he’ll need sunscreen.
SAM: Sure.
Staff: And that’s the only thing I think he needs to be prepared for. For the skiing or snowboarding part, the camp should teach him. So he should be in good hands.
SAM: OK. I do know they’ll be taking a lesson.
Staff: Yeah, cuz the people in the lesson will definitely, definitely be with him. I can just help you with what to wear and stuff.
SAM: Yup. I was just making sure as a Mom if there was anything major I should be aware of.
Staff: Yeah. And if they all come in here, um, they do have lunch upstairs. Maybe bring some money with him just in case. I wouldn’t advise giving him a credit card. I know he’s a little kid, but just in case, a lot of people tend to lose credit cards and cell phones here.
SAM: Will do. Thanks!

Rating: 5.5
Comment: Patient and polite, but what about the giant area on your website for “first-timers” – it’s got way more information than she ever would have given me.


Mountain 9, W.V.

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: OK. Um, let me see here. I used to have a sheet here that would give you tips for your first day… Hold on one second please! (Hold time: 1 minute.)
Staff: OK, so, let’s see. I’m just going to kind of go over the tips for the first day. So the first thing is to make sure you have the proper equipment. Dress in layers. Always allow your body to accommodate to the changing weather. Um, especially if you dress in layers, you can take stuff off. Adding on, you can always add on. But if you’re in layers it’s easier to get to the temperature you’re comfortable at. Um, knowing your limits. Make sure you know how to stop and be in control. If you need a lesson, take a lesson. That’s what they’re here for. As far as what you can bring… you can bring your own hat, waterproof gloves or mittens, of course make sure you’re wearing socks inside your boots, um, goggles or sunglasses are recommended. If you don’t have all these things, we do sell most of these things here.
SAM: OK.
Staff: As far as a jacket, or whatever you want to wear, you want to make sure it’s winter appropriate. Um, snow pants. I know a lot of people don’t have snow pants and if you don’t have them they are for rent. Um, sunscreen. Keep in mind even in the winter there is the sun out and when it bounces off the snow you can get burned by it.
SAM: Thanks!
Staff: As far as food goes, we have restaurants on site and a few cafeterias. As far as what they offer, they’ll have the basics like sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, milk, Gatorade, things that kids like. Um, make sure the kids know where their limit is. When they need to refuel, when to quick or take a break.
SAM: OK.
Staff: As far as trail maps, they are everywhere around here and it’s not a bad idea to carry one with you so you know where you’re at at all times. And make sure they have ID, wallet or cash with them. We do have an ATM on site. It’s not a bad idea to have extra clothes since they’ll be on the hill for a while. We do have lockers here and bathrooms to change.
SAM: OK.
Staff: OK I’m trying to think if there’s anything else I need to cover. Honestly, I think that’s all I can think of right now.
SAM: No problem, you gave me a lot of information. Thank you!
Staff: Sure thing. And just remember, if he’s with a group a buddy system is never a bad idea since I’m sure all the kids won’t be on the exact same level.
SAM: I’ll make sure he remembers that, thanks.
Staff: All right, well tell him to have fun!

Rating: 6
Comment: Clearly they have thought out a list for first-timers and she took the time to go over it. But directing me to a website is the better idea so I don’t overload.


Mountain 10 ME

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Oh! So, does he have any equipment?
SAM: I think the group already took care of that.
Staff: OK, sure! Did he fill out any paperwork for the learning center?
SAM: I’m not sure.
Staff: Sure, let me get you over to the learning center. They would know all the groups that are coming through and if there’s anything extra you need to take care of. And if you have any other questions they can pass you back over to me.
SAM: I was really just looking for basic tips for clothing or anything like that. I just don’t want to send him there unprepared.
Staff: Oh, OK. Are you going to be staying with him?
SAM: No, I’m not. It’s a group he goes with after school, but the parents don’t go along.
Staff: OK, well have him in at least snow pants, um, sweatpants or long underwear underneath, depending on the weather. Do you know when they’re coming?
SAM: In a week or two.
Staff: OK, well just bundle him up as much as you can. If it’s cold, put some hand warmers or toe warmers in his bag and if you don’t have them he can easily buy some here at the lodge. Do you know if they’re eating here?
SAM: I’m not sure, but I don’t think so because they’re only going after school for a few hours. I still might pack him a snack.
Staff: OK, no problem. And I would still suggest maybe a few dollars in case he wants to get some hot chocolate or anything like that. Um, I would send him with a jacket and mittens, a hat, goggles if you have them. If not he’ll be fine without them. I don’t think he’ll be doing any extreme skiing so he should be fine without them. I’m trying to figure out if there’s anything else I’m missing. The chaperones will get him set up with the tickets and will help them with gear and getting them to the lesson. And do they bring him home?
SAM: They do, and then all the parents meet up to grab the kids.
Staff: OK, great! Just make sure he’s dressed warmly and we’ll take care of him. And just double check if he needs to come up here on his own to get fitted for skis or if they’re going to take care of that.
SAM: Will do, thanks for the heads up.
Staff: No problem, we look forward to see him.

Rating: 8
Comment: Enthusiastic attitude and helpful tips.


Mountain 11, CA

First contact: Automated machine. Chose ski school.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Did you get the lesson with rentals?
SAM: I think that’s taken care of with the group. It’s part of the package.
Staff: OK. Sure. What was your general question? Like clothes?
SAM: Clothes, sure. Or anything major that he needs to come prepared with or should know for that matter. I am just the farthest thing from a skier so I don’t want to miss anything.
Staff: No, we’ll provide all the basic equipment he needs. And as far as on your end, just clothes to stay warm. Stuff like neoprene and water-resistant and/or waterproof. Jacket and pants basically, um, we provide the helmet and all the basic equipment so he’ll be fine in that regard. I’m not sure what other information you’re looking for though…
SAM: Yeah I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything major. And I have no idea so that’s why I was calling you. I guess dressing him warmly is the most important?
Staff: Exactly, just make sure he is weather ready for that day and he’ll be all set. So yeah, anything you would normally dress him in to play in the snow, he should be fine to ski in.
SAM: Perfect. Thanks so much.

Rating: 2
Comment: This resort has one of the most comprehensive web pages that addresses EVERYTHING a parent needs to know to prepare their child. But all I got was “warm clothes.” Tsk, tsk, tsk.


Mountain 12, CA

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: OK, um, he would need waterproof clothing, um, you know gloves, hat, sunglasses, they don’t really necessarily need goggles, but you do need sunglasses if the sun is out. Sunscreen.
SAM: OK.
Staff: I would dress him in layers. And, um, because the classes will take care of the rentals, I mean obviously you signed him up for that if he doesn’t have his own.
SAM: Right.
Staff: So someone in charge of this will take him over to rentals, get their rentals, get them to the class location on time, you just need to dress him correctly, right? Ha ha! Just because they’re going to fall at first and once they get cold it’s no fun anymore. Waterproof gloves for sure, you know the little, like, ah, polyester gloves they have? Well those won’t work, they have to be waterproof or else his hands will get really cold.
SAM: Definitely, thanks.
Staff: Of course. And waterproof pants for sure. The dryer you can keep him, the better time he’s going to have!
SAM: Sounds good. I’ll make sure he’s dry.
Staff: Well, thanks for calling!

Rating: 7.5
Comment: Basic info, but an upbeat attitude got her points.


Mountain 13, CO

First contact: Automate machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: So, what he needs to wear and stuff?
SAM: Yeah. I assume snow pants and a good jacket, but I want to make sure I’m not missing anything big.
Staff: Well the main thing is, if it’s a sunny day, is sunscreen, of course, so you don’t get sunburned. Another thing would be a hat, gloves, jacket. You know it’s cold. Long underwear. Good wool socks. Wool socks are better because it keeps his feet dry and not as cold. What else? Goggles.
SAM: Sure thing.
Staff: What else… money for snacks. And we have all the free water up here that he’ll ever need. Geeze, um, just make sure you dress him warm and in layers. If it gets too warm he can take a layer off. It’s better to be too warm than too cold.
SAM: Great, thanks so much.
Staff: OK, that’s about it. Make sure they’re snow pants and not just jeans. Jeans get cold and wet fast.
SAM: I’ll make sure of that. Thanks so much.

Rating: 4
Comment: Nice attitude, but her lack of any sort of enthusiasm makes me think my son might not have fun here.

Mountain 14, OR

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: So, um, you’re not a skier. So what type of ski clothing do you have for your child?
SAM: Well he has snow pants and a good winter jacket.
Staff: OK. And gloves and a hat.
SAM: OK.
Staff: And, um, depending on what day he’s coming, sometimes you can get by with just sunglasses, but I would recommend goggles to protect his eyes from the wind, too. Is there a beginner lesson included in the trip?
SAM: Yes, there is. They take care of equipment and a lesson.
Staff: OK. So you’re right, you want the wind pants and a nice base layer and a few more clothes so if it’s chillier than you anticipated he can put more on or take some off if it’s hot.
SAM: Sure thing.
Staff: We do have lockers that are coin operated in the rental section or credit card operated in the rest of the lodge so he has somewhere to put his belongings. Now is he skiing or snowboarding?
SAM: Skiin
Staff: Skiing. Lighter socks are better than thicker socks. You want the boot to fit snug. The base layer you want to fit real snug so when they put the boot on nothing cramps in that area. Something thin. Thinner is better. And then the wind pants. The wind is usually an issue, but coming prepared for anything and being able to strip off a layer is usually nice.
SAM: Sounds good. I can take care of all that.
Staff: And we do rent helmets. I would encourage him to, I mean I grew up never wearing seat belts, but then it became a law and now you just don’t think about buckling up when you drive. And ingraining that with the helmets is nice too. I value my grey matter, as should your child. How old did you say he was?
SAM: He’s 10.
Staff: OK, so yeah, encouraging that from mom and dad would be good. Is he coming with other children?
SAM: Yes, there are other children.
Staff: Excellent. So there will be a lot of camaraderie. Just remember more is better than less and protecting the head is smart, but it sounds like rental equipment is included in that package so you should be all set.
SAM: Awesome, thanks so much.

Rating: 8
Comment: High points for thoroughness and details, but there was no enthusiasm whatsoever (you had to have been there)!

Mountain 15, WA

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, I mean you just want to make sure he’s prepared for wearing the right type of clothing?
SAM: Sure.
Staff: OK, so yeah! Like warm jacket, snow pants, gloves, hat, goggles, that sort of thing. He’s got all that?
SAM: Um, yes. Is there anything else I should know to prepare him?
Staff: I mean I don’t know what else. Are you doing the after school program?
SAM: Yeah, it’s one day a week after school.
Staff: So, we don’t actually coordinate, there are school coordinators, because we don’t actually coordinate the after-school program. But as far as coming up, they just need to have the right clothing. Let me look at our website and I can look up who your coordinator is who can help you out more… and what school is it?
SAM: X Elementary
Staff: OK, so that’s Friday evenings. And it looks like it already started?!
SAM: Yeah, we signed up late. Ha!
Staff: So the person you should contact is Jane Doe and her phone is 555-555-5555.
SAM: Sure. I can call her, but I wanted to call you guys first to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
Staff: Well, yeah, and I’m not quite sure because the coordinators coordinate all the groups so like as far as like bringing anything, I’m not sure. That’s what the coordinator does.
SAM: OK, I’ll call her.
Staff: Yeah, we just don’t coordinate that stuff. We just make the reservations and collect the money, but every group is different. So I would contact the school and ask for her and I’m sure she can help you. It’s right on our website too, under school programs, you can see the information for X Elementary.
SAM: Great, I’ll call her.

Rating: 5
Comment: Guess I should call the coordinator.

 
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