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.
Not too long ago Friday nights in our house were pretty chaotic. For years our kids participated in a weekly ski program. It was always a scramble to find a lost ski mitten, layout long johns, and pack the ski bags. Living in Vermont, we were determined that our kids were going to learn ski because really what else were we going to do all winter long? That meant each weekend we’d make the Saturday morning trek with our never-evers to Bolton for the Ridge Runners program, and then later to Sugarbush for the Blazers. We would optimistically hand them over to their instructors hoping that they would come back skiers.
I remember the first time they skied off with the group. I was so worried. How would they get on to the lift? What if they fell? What if they needed a snack? They were just so little. But somehow they managed and in no time it seemed like they were leaving the bunny hill for the greens. Each week they learned how to make turns, snow plow and eventually ride the lift alone.
Before long they were off the blues trails and telling me about black diamond runs. They were negotiating the moguls and skiing in the woods. At this point I started wondering if I would be able to keep up with them. So much so that when the opportunity presented itself for me to take lessons – I did!
As the years passed they moved up levels in their groups. While my kids got a taste of racing in their program, neither wanted to to continue down that path. However they were eager to try new things. One year my son tried the snowboarding program and although he enjoyed it, in the end he decided that he preferred skiing.
We were all growing and trying new things. One year as a family, we tried cross country skiing for the time at Trapp Family Lodge. Little did I know that that trip would spark something in my son later in High School. My daughter eventually decided she wanted to learn to shred like her Dad. Whenever we visited a new ski resort she opted to take a snowboard lesson.
Fast forward 10 years and I am no longer searching for goggles or checking to make sure they have their helmets. Rather my teenage son is packing his bag for cross country ski practice and every weekend we are now watching his races. While my 13 year old daughter is packing her own ski bag for the after-school ski program at Cochran’s where she is an instructor helping out with the younger kids.
I almost miss jamming their little feet into ski boots, making sure their mittens are tucked in and listening to them whine about how cold they were. Well, I don’t actually miss that, but I do miss Saturday “ski dates”. Putting them into a six hour ski program was like a weekly gift! Not only did my husband and I get to ski alone, but all of our friends were doing them same thing with their kids. We’d ski as a group for a few hours then meet for lunch until pick up time. It was a win-win in my book.
I credit those early days for creating a sport that we can all enjoy together. More importantly it gave my kids the confidence to try new things on the mountain. They now have a life long love to be out on the snow. And that’s a good thing because we are not leaving Vermont anytime soon.