It’s a word that gets that tossed around a bit in English. Sometimes it means something hilariously funny, as in “that joke is priceless!” and sometimes it’s an advertising tagline (think MasterCard). But when used in all sincerity, priceless means something “so precious that its value cannot be determined.”
In late October, I posted a query on social media in which I asked ski mums and dads to share their opinions regarding the Return On Investment (ROI) for family skiing. It was a popular social post, reaching over 1200 ski parents, many of whom answered by simply typing “priceless.” And while that one word accurately sums up the passion and delight so many get parents get from skiing with their children, the ROI goes well beyond simple monetary value.
Memories That Bind the Generations
While ROI is an economic term, parents were quick to point out that the benefits of family snow sports are truly intangible.
Topping the list of benefits were memories. As one ski dad put it, days spent “skiing with my kids have been some of the best days of my life. I have memories that I will cherish long after my ability to ski is gone.”
Memories are also important for families with multiple generations that ski or snowboard. As one parents suggests, these are sports you can do into your 90s. This makes the ability to share a beloved activity with grandparents and grandchildren especially sweet.
Parents also believe that snowsports teach their children important lessons. While some pointed out that skiing and snowboarding build confidence and resilience in their children, one mother wrote that “skiing teaches us as parents how to gradually let our kids take risks and gain independence over the years.”
Another pointed out that like riding a bike, skiing and snowboarding are lifelong skills that can be put aside for months or years and then picked up again, with great pleasure, at any time.
Developing a respect for the outdoors and the fragile mountain environment was also important to parents, as was spending time outdoors, active and unplugged, away from technology.
Where Miracles Happen
Some of the most heartfelt comments came from parents who have seen snowsports change their children’s lives for the better.
Liane Kennedy is a ski mum in Newfoundland, Canada who grew up skiing and wanted her son to enjoy winter in their cold climate. Because her now teenage son has numerous medical issues, his ability to play hockey, for example, was limited. But skiing turned out to be the perfect sport for him, as it offers continuous exercise with regular breaks. The rhythm of a ski day, alternating runs with lift rides, has helped him improve his core strength and physically function within a reasonable range of normal, according to Kennedy.
Best of all, she shares that he loves skiing and hopes to find a career in the ski industry. “He is happy, he has a great group of friends, ranging from seniors to younger children. The benefits to his health are stunning. The results are so significant that we altered his school year so that he can ski all winter.”
Two other mums shared their experiences with the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado. For one, enrolling her special needs son in a ski program led her to take up the sport. Twenty-four years later, she and her son are still skiing together.
For another mum, her child’s experience inspired her to become an adaptive instructor. “So many miracles happen on the mountain,”
When You’re In The Trenches
We’ve all been there.
The days when we ski parents are exhausted before we even get on the lift. With gear to wrangle, children to calm, boots to buckle, and tickets to purchase, to an outsider looking in, skiing and snowboarding might look like sports that are more trouble than they’re worth.
But don’t let the minor struggles wear you down or fool you into walking away.
For when it comes to the bottom line, there are few, if any family activities, that provide the same level of multigenerational enjoyment and a shared lifetime of outdoor adventure.
Kids grow up, they learn to carry their own gear and put on their own boots, and with each passing year, the time, effort and money you invest becomes even more valuable.
You might even say priceless.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.braveskimom.com