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.
This was our first ski trip as a family and although I was psyched to be back on skis again, I was a little worried how my 3 and 6 year old would handle it. The boots make you walk funny, the amount of layers required to stay warm can border on the absurd and I was a little apprehensive on just how they would adjust to an all-day ski camp.
Looking back now on our long weekend at Smuggs, I now know I had nothing to worry about. The award winning kid’s ski programs are part of Smugglers’ Notch Snow Sport University and a key part of what has made Smugglers’ Notch a top family ski resort and best overall family resort for over a decade. My kids loved the program and I felt completely at ease letting them be immersed in ski school for the all day camp. These programs also allow parents some often much need adult time to enjoy the mountain and just each other. Everyone wins with the kids programs at Smugglers’ Notch.
The programs at Smugglers’ Notch are divided by age and within each group divided further by the skier’s ability level.
Although our baby days are now over, I did get to peak in at the impressive childcare center for children age 6 weeks to 3 years of age. For parents looking to bring young children on a ski vacation but not sure how they will actually be able to ski – Treasures Child Care is your answer at Smuggs. This certified child care center provides all day care with highly trained staff in a clean, bright environment overlooking Morse Mountain. I loved that parents can ski right from the slope to a special path that takes them to the Center so they can pop in on their little ones throughout the day. This is a great plus for nursing moms who want to ski but also want to be easily accessible for their baby. Just one of the million ways Smugglers’ Notch is a great getaway destination for active families!
An added gem to Treasures is the Little Rascals program which provides ski lessons to 2 1/2 to 3 year olds right in the playground area. This slight incline has its very own Magic Carpet that kids can ride on learn the very basics in skiing.
For 3 to 5 year olds, the Dynamic Dynamos offers a full day ski experience with the ease of transportation (brightly colored tractor pulled wagon) to the base of Sir Henry’s Hill so little ones don’t have to awkwardly walk from the meeting place to the slope. My three year old loved his tractor rides throughout the day. At this age the kids learn to ski with age appropriate games and several indoor breaks. They even start this age group indoors and teach the kids how to put their skis on and give them a chance to walk around in their boots. I truly think the skill to work with this age group is intense and all of my son’s instructors were top notch (no pun intended).
If you’re curious what a first time 3 year old learns during ski camp, after two days of lessons my son was able to comfortably ride the magic carpet (similar to an airport people mover), ski down the hill making stops and started to turn. I was impressed and he keeps asking when we’re going skiing next.
Burton Riglet Park
This state of the art facility provides kids age 3 – 6 with various programs to introduce them to snowboarding on a teaching terrain with lots of kid friendly props to guide the learning experience. Kids can take part in the Snowboard Discovery Camp, private or group lessons or a unique mommy/daddy and me ride class.
Adventure Rangers Camp
For kids ages 6 -10 parents can feel comfortable that their kids are having fun while learning to ski with kids their own age and ability level. My six year old daughter had never skied before and her instructor on day one was incredibly patient and worked with building her confidence on skis. By day 2 she was riding the magic carpet up Sir Henry’s Hill and really getting into the various games taught to build skills while keeping kids entertained. The instructors at Smuggs are trained for working with kids and have an arsenal of games and activities to teach all levels and ages.
Both the Dynamic Dynamos and Adventure Ranger programs run from 9 AM to about 2:30 include lunch and plenty of time inside if needed. For parents looking for a little more time on the mountains, kids can participate
in an afternoon activity until 4PM. All kids are outfitted with a GPS so instructors will always know where your precious darling is and parents can log online at night to see where their kids skied or rode that day! I can attest that kids love this program as mine both cried when we picked them up on our last day before the afternoon science activity started and are still talking about ski school!
The Notch Squad
Teens age 11 to 15 can chose between a 2 hour group lesson or take part in the all day Notch Squad camp. Don’t let your tween or teen be afraid of the word “camp” because Smuggs provides kids this age with their own space while providing the supervision parents need. I wish they had something like this when I learned to ski at age 12 and was in a class of beginners hovering around the age of 7.
For more experienced teens age 16 to 20, they can take part in a group ski or ride session or take a lesson and later combine this with off mountain fun such as ice climbing or tree top obstacle courses at ArborTrek. This all day program is designed to allow teens to be in a group setting and allows parents some comfort in knowing their older kids are in a safe environment.
Family vacations are an important part of family time together. Smugglers’ Notch has your family covered from infant to college aged with ski and ride classes to improve your child’s skill level, build confidence and have fun. The programs at Smuggs’ also allow mom and dad some time on their own as well.
Check out Smugglers’ Notch Snow Sport University for more details and videos.