December 15, 2016

By Diane Rudholm

Last ski season, our 5-year-old son, Dashel, completed a beginner level ski program at Summit at Snoqualmie, about 60 miles east of Seattle, Washington.

For each of the program’s six consecutive Saturdays, our family arrived to Summit Central at 9 a.m. We trekked up the zigzag path to the lodge where we layered our son with gear. Ready to go, we shuffled past a fire pit and a bear sculpture and crunched through snow to the class’s designated meeting spot where we left our child for the rest of the morning in the capable hands of the instructor.

Fall Down 7 Times, Stand Up 8

The first day could have been described as “expectedly disastrous.” Dashel was recovering from a cold and he was tired. He remembered slipping the previous winter and was worried it would happen again. He also refused to finish his breakfast that morning and his goggles kept sliding down his face. Unfortunately, Dashel left the first lesson early and miserable, declaring that he no longer liked to ski.

The following week, knowing that my husband and I could have done more to help Dashel enjoy the experience, we tried again.

Colorfully clad kids learn to make turns. Photo by Jeff Caven, courtesy of Summit at Snoqualmie

Playing is Learning

Well fed, rested and warm, Dashel had an enormous amount of fun during the rest of his lessons. The instructors — who were great — led the kids in creative games to help them form the necessary muscle memory needed to successfully make turns, traverse, speed up and slow down.

They took breaks to warm up with hot chocolate. By the end of the lessons, the kids all rode the chairlift and skied down a snowy run or two. This was an exciting accomplishment for Dashel and almost a year later, he remembers his ski lessons with warmth and excitement.

If you’re like many parents and haven’t skied since your kids were born, the beginner lessons for kids at Summit at Snoqualmie are the perfect opportunity to get back into the groove. Drop the kids off at their lesson and click into your own skis for a run or two. If you’re not ready to hit the slopes, sip a hot drink on the second floor of the Summit Central lodge and watch the snow fall outside.

Must-Haves for Happy Little Skiers

  1. Warm fingers and toes: Invest in waterproof gloves and wool socks.
  2. Treats: Skiing burns a ton of calories so bring along snacks and hot drinks help warm the body and the mood.
  3. Sleep: Even though they are excited the night before, being well rested for the class the next day is a great strategy for a positive experience.
  4. Support: Show your little ones that you believe in them — give them a hug and a high-five, and then leave the lesson area. They will be OK. (And so will you!)

Diane Rudholm is a writer and illustrator living in Seattle. She is genuinely delighted to ski with her son this season. Tweet @DianeBikes