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Here’s a Surefire Way to Turn Your Kid Into a Better Skier Than You

Season-long ski programs offer little skiers the routine and consistency they need to succeed.

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Maybe you’ve tried to teach your kids to ski. Maybe you know better than to even attempt it. Either way, when you want to be able to ski with your kids—really ski with them, like all over the mountain—the best thing you can do is enroll them in a seasonal ski program at your nearest mountain.

Related: Top 10 Family-Friendly Resorts in the West

These programs, which are multi-week throughout all or part of the season, are found at most ski areas these days. They’re a great way to blend time on snow into your weekly schedule, ensuring the lessons your kids are learning will stick. For young skiers, these provide much-needed consistency to hone their skills and advance in the sport.

Breck Bombers
The Breck Bombers program teaches kids between 3 and 13 years old. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

Most skiing programs start at age 3 or 4, as long as the child is potty trained.  The majority just run on the weekends—though some ski areas located in or very near towns have after-school options, as well. Most programs start after the turn of the new year, but start booking up now. Here’s a sampling of what’s on tap in or near both larger and smaller mountain communities this winter.

8 Seasonal Ski Programs for Kids

Park City Resort, Utah

Just outside of Salt Lake City, Park City Mountain offers a wide range of weekly local youth programs for all skill levels and interests for ages 3-14. The programs range from 2.5-hour to six-hour all-day programs. The area offers once a week programs for 6- and 10-weeks which range from developing fundamentals, skills, and a love of skiing to competition training in the Race Programs. The programs run from mid-December through early March (not including holiday weekends).

Belleayre Mountain, N.Y.

Located roughly between New York City and Boston (slightly easier for NYC’ers to get to) in the Catskills, Belleayre is a state-owned ski area that offers 10 weeks of seasonal programming on the weekends from early January to mid-March. However, only intermediate and advanced skiers who can ride the chairlift independently are able to participate—though they can be as young as 5 years old.

Eldora Mountain Resort, Colo.

With possibly the cutest program name ever, the Eldorables multi-week program is for ages 4-6 and its Trek multi-week program is for ages 7-14. The 2.5-hour lessons are offered mid-week and on weekends for one day a week in four- or eight-week sessions. Eldora is about 20 miles west of Boulder up a moderately windy canyon road.

Mt. Holly Ski Area, Mich.

Just an hour from Detroit, this relatively small ski area has a lot going on. For 5- to 10-year-old beginner skiers, the Kindersparks program runs for five weeks on the weekends starting in mid-January. Mt. Holly also has a unique Ski Club for 7- to 18-year-olds which consists of seven lessons, reduced rate mid-week afternoon and evening skiing. The program is active for the whole season.

Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

This family friendly ski area offers programming for 3- to 6-year-olds in its three-hour Mini Mite lessons or for 7- to 13-year-olds in the Mitey Mites. Both meet once a week on the weekends for eight weeks and group skiers by ability from first-timers through advanced skiers. Advanced 12- to 16-year-olds can join the Freeriders Program for more aggressive days and instruction while 13- to 16-year-olds can start their journey to becoming an instructor themselves with the innovative Instructor in Training program.

Bachelors seasonal kids programs
Bachelor’s flexible sessions are offered in three- to eight-week chunks. (Photo: Courtesy of Mt. Bachelor)

Mt. Bachelor, Ore.

Nestled towards the south end of the Cascade Range, Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor is a prominent yet dormant stratovolcano cone. The ski area base is just 18 miles up the road from the city of Bend. Mt. Bachelor’s multi-week programs takes 4-year-olds (Mighty Mites) to continue along a progressive path through age 15. Taught in three- to eight-week sessions over the season, the lessons range in level from beginners to charging groms keen to hit the most challenging terrain.

Villa Olivia, Illinois

Located in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago, Villa Olivia has just enough vertical to transform from a golf course to a small four-lift ski hill in the winter. But the access is incredible. Served by three rope-tow lifts and a triple-chair, Villa Olivia is able to offer youth (starting at age 6) and adult (age 17) beginner ski lessons. All of the lesson packages come in sets of three and meet either weekly or for three days in a row.

Breckenridge Resort, Colo.

Amongst the many ski areas in Colorado, Breckenridge’s Breck Bombers multi-week program has been around for decades and provides progressive ski instruction for kids. The Pee-Wee Bombers is for willing 3-year-olds and once they can stop and turn on their own they are grouped with others of similar ability to venture out a little farther. They then progress through the Bombers program, mastering techniques on steeper slopes and through moguls, until the age of 13.