Learning to ski or snowboard at an early age is the perfect way to help young children instill a love for winter. Exploring the slopes helps kids build self-confidence, meet new friends and develop a lifelong affinity for the outdoors.
A Dad and Kids Ski Weekend at Bromley
This past February, for the first time since we became a ski family four seasons ago, something new happened—we spent the weekend skiing in Vermont…at three different mountains.
It started when our oldest daughter Stella, now a freshman in high school, came home one November afternoon with a permission slip for a Killington ski weekend with her school’s ski club. I was apprehensive. We’d skied there once before as a family, but it was Killington—the Beast of the East. Why couldn’t they go someplace smaller and warm and fuzzy like Bolton Valley or Suicide Six? With a roll of her eyes and my checkbook in her hand, Stella kindly assured me that, “Oh my God Mom, I’ll be fine!” In an effort to avoid any additional teen-wrath, I wrote out the deposit and signed my name on the form with a shudder.
Shortly thereafter, my fellow All Mountain Mamas and I were enlisted to spend a few days honing our skills at Okemo’s Women’s Alpine Adventure followed by a weekend of skiing and pampering at the Hermitage Club. As timing would have it, the trip would bring me to Vermont at the same time my daughter would be at Killington. Well, I thought, if she breaks something at least I’ll be in the same state. (postscript: Stella had an absolute ball with her friends at Killington, skiing the entire mountain over the course of two days including all the black diamond terrain on Bear Mountain).
That left the husband to fly solo with our two younger girls. And since the third time is always the charm, I decided the scenario presented a perfect opportunity for him to have an All Mountain Dad adventure of his own. The mountain of choice for the inaugural Dad and Kids Ski Trip was Bromley—a friendly, family mountain not too far north with a warm, community spirit and plenty of great terrain. What’s more, Bromley is unofficially known as the sun mountain—its southern exposure keeping the slopes in the rays throughout the day—which meant Dad could spend less time getting kids warmed up in the lodge and more time having fun out on the trails.
On a Friday afternoon in February, with Mom cozily ensconced at the Hermitage Inn and Stella en route to Killington, my husband Jon packed up the car and the girls and headed north with the remaining Vercesi contingent. Though Bromley isn’t a large resort with a plush slope side hotel, families looking to stay right on the mountain can choose the Lodge at Bromley, which offers basic, but comfortable, ski in, ski out accommodations. Jon and the girls opted for a condo in Bromley Village—our family loves to make ourselves at home when we ski and having space to spread out along with a full kitchen and wood-burning fireplace allows us to do just that. They arrived on the late side, but Ernie at the Village welcome office greeted them with a smile and directed them to the Birches section, where they had a spacious and cozy three bedroom condo just a short walk from the Plaza trail that made them feel like they were staying at a friend’s house.
Kids Rule at Bromley
The next morning after breakfast the three of them walked through the woods just outside of the condo to the top of the Plaza trail and skied right down to Bromley’s base, making for a super easy way to start the day—no shuttle, no parking, no schlepping to the lodge with the gear. Our youngest daughter, Nola, was scheduled for a day in Bromley’s KidsRule Camp and I think one of the best parts about the program is that the day begins at 9:45 rather than the traditional 9:00, which means less rushing in the morning. Our middle daughter, Bianca, would be taking a two-hour private lesson the next day—for a kid on the brink of becoming a teenager, group lessons held less appeal.
Breaking up the weekend like this meant that my husband could ski on Saturday with Bianca, who is a stronger, faster skier than her younger sister. On Sunday, Bianca could ramp up her skills on the steep stuff with a private instructor while Jon cruised around with Nola on terrain that was more at her level.
Kids really do rule at Bromley and the mountain has taken care to ensure that things are as simple as possible for parents, with a designated area for kids’ programs in the base lodge that includes child care facilities and children’s rental equipment. Three cheers for one stop shopping! As an added perk, parents can even pick up kids’ gear the night before camp—another way Bromley helps minimize the morning rush.
One-on-One with Dad and Mark
With Nola in her lesson, Dad and Bianca headed out to explore the mountain’s 46 trails and glades. Though Bromley is one of southern Vermont’s smaller ski areas, the mountain offers a solid variety of terrain spread throughout the 178-acre scenic, New England landscape. They spent the morning zipping through Bromley’s glades—no one else in the family is in love with tree skiing, so they were in their glory—and hitting the expert trails on the mountain’s east side.
Being Bromley newbies, they weren’t familiar with the different trails and lifts, but my husband said that everyone there, from other skiers to lift attendants to ski instructors, seemed to know the mountain really well and were always willing to take the time to stop and point them in the right direction.
The next day, Bianca met up with Mark for her two-hour private. Jon and Nola tagged along for a bit at the beginning and Jon gave Mark an idea of some of the things he wanted them to focus on during the lesson—honing her techniques in the woods and on the steeps—and Mark was great at tailoring his instruction to Bianca’s needs.
When I told one of the other women in my group at the Okemo clinic that my husband and daughters were at Bromley she couldn’t stop talking about how much they were going to love it. Bromley was her family’s home away from home, she told me, and everyone there knew everyone else because it was everyone else’s home away from home, too.
That’s exactly the vibe my husband took away from he and the girls’ time at Bromley, reporting that everyone he spoke with throughout the weekend expressed an uncanny loyalty to the resort. Bromley was people’s home mountain and that’s where they ski. But even being a first-timer, he never felt out of place—Bromley exudes a welcoming, mellow energy from the firepit at the base to the beautiful trails to the après ski hang in the lodge. It’s a place you want to return to over and over again.
Later, after listening to the ten-piece funk band in the base lodge for a while, my family headed back to their condo where Dad fired up both a roaring fire and a pot of chili. The girls settled in to read and do homework and my husband kicked back with a beer. Bromley had been a great pick for his first foray into solo-parenting on the slopes and it looked like the mountain had earned three more loyal guests.