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.
Stowe Mountain Resort’s Summer Adventure Camp
What would summer be without camp? Summers at the Stowe Mountain Resort cater to guests of all ages and my kids, ages 3 and 6, found their way to the Summer Adventure Camp. I’ll admit, I’ve only recently become a fan of going on vacation and sending my kids to a camp program but honestly, I’m not sure what was holding me back. My kids had a blast at Stowe’s summer camp and my husband and I got to enjoy Stowe by ourselves for a few hours. It was a splurge worth taking!
The Summer Adventure Program enrolls locals and kids staying at the resort, which I think provides a fun mix for kids. Although the program is on the pricey side ($155 per child per day) there are discounts for multiple days and EVERYTHING is taken care of, including lunch and transportation to and from the Stowe Mountain Lodge, where we were staying. My kids opted to take a short gondola ride (the Over Easy) from the resort as part of their commute and loved it. In the two days that they took part in the Summer Adventure Program they swam in a brook, golfed at the Stowe Country Club, participated in a scavenger hunt, visited the Stowe Inn to swim, and made new friends. This is camp as camp was meant to be plus it gives mom and dad a chance to explore on their own.
Stowe’s Summer Adventure Camp is open to kids ages 3 to 12. Older kids (ages 7-12) take part in the Mountain Adventure Program which includes more strenuous hikes, rock climbing, geo-caching, and loads of other really cool “extreme” adventures. The counselors were all excellent and many work in the kids ski program during the winter months and have a great deal of experience working with kids.
Hiking Mount Mansfield
As much as the kids and I loved the Summer Adventure Program one of our “must do” activities at Stowe was to hike Mount Mansfield. Mount Mansfield is Vermont’s highest peak at almost 4,300 feet and the ledge is shaped like a man’s profile. The summit is more commonly known as the “chin” and there is a nose, mouth, and even an Adam’s apple on the trail map. If you are traveling with little kids who are not up for a strenuous hike up the mountain (like mine) you have two options to get to the top:
Take the auto toll road ($19 per car and driver and $6 per additional person – kids 5 and under are free) which brings you to parking area B.
Or ride the FourRunner Quad chair lift ($25 per person of $76 for a family of four). Note – the gondola was closed this summer as a result of the construction taking place at the Resort but it will be back in operation in September 2014 just in time for Fall.
Both options bring you to the Octagon Restaurant which has a small but decent menu of sandwiches and drinks and boasts stunning 360 degree views from the outdoor deck. We opted for the toll road as we wanted to get as close as we could to the Green Mountain Club base and try to hike the ledge with the kids. By driving you can stop at the Octagon and then drive up to parking area A which is the closest parking area to the ledge and can hop on the Long Trail from there. Another bonus for history lovers is that with you toll road fee you get a complimentary CD to listen to on the drive up that explains the history of the road and the mountain.
Once you get passed the closest points on the hiking trail, the crowds will dissipate and you will be above the tree line, largely traversing over rock. The path is marked but make sure you have plenty of water, proper footwear, and a camera because the views are absolutely spectacular. It was at this point that my three year old had had enough and my daughter and I did the hike solo.
If you are wondering about how difficult this hike is for kids, my six year old was a real trooper and made it to the base of the summit (the chin of the mountain). I say the base because we were minutes from the summit but she really couldn’t go any further and we worked our way back.
Other Activities at Stowe
From biking to golfing, to the performing arts and zip lines, there really is so much to do and see during the summer at Stowe. A long weekend is not nearly enough time to see it all. My husband and I rented bikes from the Nordic Barn just a couple of miles from the resort ($18 per person for two or more hours). We picked up the 5 mile Stowe Recreational Trail from behind the Barn and biked into town. This is a beautiful, paved trail with numerous wooden bridges, corn fields and stops along a meandering brook. We did this while the kids were at camp and it was a fabulous morning date.
No matter how adventurous you and your kids are, you can definitely find something that will please everyone in Stowe.
Want to read more about Stowe? Here are some more great tips from the All Mountain Mamas:
- Summer Luxury for Families at the Stowe Mountain Lodge
- Skiing Stowe Mountain Resort with Kids
- Stowe Spas: Add a Little “Ahhh” to Your Family Ski Vacation
- Cross-country Skiing With Kids in Stowe