Do you like to ski with your kids? I’ve been skiing a few times, but I’d never consider myself a skier (maybe that will change one day). However, I’d love for my kids to learn to ski, so I’m excited about taking my older girls, Clare and Kate (ages 10 and 8) to Liberty Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania for their first adventure on skis.
Given it’s Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month, this seemed like the perfect time to go. My dad and step-mother are going, too. Both are very good skiers, so the girls will take a two-hour lesson at the Children’s Learning Center on-site at Liberty Mountain Resort and then they’ll ski for two hours with my parents.
Liberty is less than 90 minutes from Washington, DC, making it very convenient for skiing or snow tubing. But there are plenty of ski resorts across Pennsylvania worth checking into this ski season that are perfect for many on the east coast. Many, including Liberty Mountain Resort, are offering ski specials this month, too.
In my opinion, it’s important that children have a very good experience (or at least not a bad one) the first time up on skis. For me, I want my kids to enjoy skiing and get the hang of it so they’ll want to go again and again each year (further pushing me to truly learn to ski once and for all). With this in mind, here are five tips to help ensure that your kids have a pleasant day learning to ski:
1. Dress Appropriately: It’s supposed to be quite cold when the girls go skiing, so they’ll need to bundle up in layers. That means thermal underwear and undershirts, sweaters, warm socks, neck gaiters, goggles and mittens, as well as warm ski coats and snow pants, of course. They’ll wear helmets when they ski, but I’ll bring hats for them to put on when they’re finished. Kids aren’t having fun when they’re cold, so I’ll do my best to keep them warm.
2. Arrange Lessons and Equipment Ahead of Time: Don’t just show up at a ski resort and expect to get lessons for your kids. If they’re not busy, this may happen, but it’s not worth the risk. Call ahead to set up lessons and also arrange for equipment rentals. Have your child’s height, weight and shoe size handy to finalize arrangements. Then, arrive at least 45 minutes ahead of the lesson to get situated.
3. Look for Separate Children’s Lessons: Children learn differently than adults and most large ski resorts will have separate classes for children. Most are first grouped by ability level, then divided up by age. You’ll want classes that have no more than six to eight kids for every two instructors. Also, make sure there is a dedicated area where children learn to ski.
4. Be Encouraging, But Know When to Take a Break: I walk a fine line with eight-year-old, Kate. She’ll get frustrated and want to stop before Clare, so I know I need to watch for cues to tell me whether some added encouragement will keep her up on skis for a little while longer or whether it’s time to take a break or end the day completely. We’ll have to see how it goes this week.
5. Try a Day Camp: Sometimes if my kids know I’m nearby, they may want to quit, but if they’re in a half-day or full-day ski camp they can behave differently and spend more time on the mountain. If you can, try a camp that offers a mix of outdoor ski lessons and indoor playtime to keep your kids energized and excited about learning to ski.
If you’re new to skiing and would like to get up on skis in Pennsylvania, the First-Time Ski/Snowboard Program is worth a look. For $39, you’ll get a beginner lift ticket, group lesson and ski rentals. Supplies are limited and these vouchers can be used anytime, even on weekends and holidays.
Photo Credit: Jason
Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post by the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association. However, all views and opinions expressed in this post are my own.