Family Ski or Snowboard Lessons: Have Fun and Learn Together!
by Shannon Luthy
I long ago discovered that the best way to learn to ski or snowboard is to take a lesson. Trust me on this one. The instructors are trained to know all of the tricks so that you don't get frustrated. Plus, everyone in your lesson group will be at the same learning level, and will make the same silly mistakes as you.
The worst way to learn is to have your spouse teach you! And right there at the bottom is a parent teaching his/her child.
Many resorts offer many lessons. Here's a short list of programs across the country. If you are planning a trip, be sure to ask if the resort has a family program. Caveat: family lessons are not for everyone. If your family has various ages or athletic ability levels, a kid's or junior lesson may be more fun.
Winter Park (skiwinterpark.com) offers a lesson that can be just perfect for everyone in your group or family. It's called the Family Private Lesson. It's a maximum of six people in the lesson (family or friends) for three hours of instruction. Rates vary, but benefits are big, including line cutting privileges and all that family bonding.
My husband and I, along with two of the kids, took the Family Private on a day when there was plenty of powder. Matt Lewis, a transplanted Kiwi who spends his winters teaching at Winter Park, was our instructor. Matt knew the mountain, and knew just where the kids wanted to go. We hit every roller, and loop-de-loop. We skied tree runs full of jumps. We hit NASTAR and the half-pipe. We skied all the hidden, un-skied trails. The kids loved him and hung on his every word - even his skiing advice. A few times, he took the kids on a run while we snuck off for some hard bumps. It's the perfect way to have a family adventure, learn where the best runs are on the mountain, cut lift lines and improve your skiing. Reservations are recommended by calling 970-726-1551.
Crested Butte (cbmr.com) offers something similar called the Tag-a-Long Lesson. It's a private lesson for your child, or children, where Mom and Dad get to ski along and watch. Crested Butte's Director of Communications, Gina Kroft, says, "This program allows parents to be involved in their child's instruction and also receive information needed to help the child progress and ski safely after the lesson."
Keystone (keystone.snow.com) has come up with something they call "Mom, Dad and Me!" During the hour long program, an instructor will tour you around the mountain. The program runs from 3-4:00 each afternoon. Reservations are required. Call 970-496-4170 or 800-255-3715 for more info.
If a resort doesn't specifically offer a "family" lesson, sign up for a private. Just about every resort offers a private group lesson - perfect for you and your family. You are, in essence, hiring your own mountain guide. You can have a lot of fun out there and maybe learn a few things at the same time.
Among the other spots offering family lessons:
Hunter Mountain, NY (huntermtn.com) : "Learn With Me Family Lesson"; This one and a half hour lesson focuses on the children's needs while offering a great way for the entire family to learn together.
Smuggler's Notch, VT ((smuggs.com) : "Mom & Me" and "Dad & Me"; Offered at 2:30 pm or 3 p.m., it's an opportunity to learn some of the skills and games that will help you to be a teacher for your child or vice versa.
National Sports Center for the Disabled (nscd.org) at Winter Park, CO: offers lessons in which all family members learn together, rather than isolating the person with a disability for special instruction.
Loon Mountain Resort, NH (loonmtn.com) ): "Mom, Dad and Me"; designed to allow parents to ski with their kids and instruct them a little, parents get tips from an instructor on teaching their child, and they learn terms like "pizza" and "french fries".
Park City Mountain Resort, UT (pcski.com) : in the "Two-Hour Mom, Dad and the Kids Private Lesson" a Park City Pro helps the parent learn to help his/her youngster enjoy skiing by improving the child's skiing ability while guiding the parent on the where's and how's for a successful remainder of the day; beginner to intermediate levels, skiing only; 800-222-7275.
Alta Ski Area, UT (alta.com) : offers "Parent/Tot Private Lessons for entry level skiers under 6 years of age, with advanced reservations; $75/hour; 802-359-1078.
Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA (northstarattahoe.com) : offers "Mommy, Daddy & Me", a lesson on how to work with your three or four-year old. It's free and offered daily. They also have "Teach Your Tots", a private lesson for you and your child (under 4). They go over basic skills, but give you the necessary info to continue the teaching process.
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