Looking for some great ways to get your kids out skiing yet save money? There are plenty of opportunities if you shop around a bit.
Ski New Hampshire again is offering the fourth- and fifth-grade passport program this season. Available to any student in these two grades, out-of-state as well as in-state, the $59 passport allows one day of skiing or riding at each of the trade group’s participating 33 alpine and cross-country resorts. That can come out to less than $2 per day.
The passport can be purchased online at www.skinh.com/passport starting in mid-November. Act quickly because there will be a limited number sold. Ski New Hampshire also is working on a mobile app for this program, also to be available in mid-November.
In addition, most alpine resorts in New Hampshire offer great programs for kids as young as 4 years old. Whether it be a one-time lesson, a season-long program, or a vacation ski/ride camp, this is a wonderful way for kids to learn new skills while making friends. A bonus is these programs give parents an opportunity to explore the resort on their own.
One such seasonal program for kids is the Knee-Hi Ski and Knuckle-Hi Snowboard program at King Pine. Geared for ages 4 to 6, the program’s instructors use entertaining exercises and games with an innovative team-teaching approach to make learning fun and exciting. There are three different eight-week programs designed for each child’s ability — first-year skiers, surface lift riders, and all-mountain skiers. On the snowboard side, there is one program designed to make young riders more proficient. All programs use a 2-to-1 student-teacher ratio.
For enthusiastic snowsports families looking for season passes, Waterville Valley offers a good deal for kids and their parents. Each adult purchasing a full season pass at the New Hampshire resort can receive a free junior season pass for any child ages 6 to 12.
Ragged Mountain is continuing its Bebe Wood Free Learn to Ski and Snowboard program this season. Though not only for kids (adults are welcome), it’s a wonderful way to introduce your child, or perhaps the whole family, to skiing or snowboarding. This free program — for first-timers only — includes three lessons, rental equipment and a lower-mountain lift ticket. Available Monday through Thursday, you can extend your day past the two-hour lesson by purchasing a lower-mountain ticket for the rest of the day and keeping your rentals for only $20.
Vermont also has a passport program, but for fifth-graders only. This deal offers the passport for $20 and is good for three visits to each of Ski Vermont’s participating alpine resorts, and up to three visits at cross-country areas. For a list of participating areas, visit skivermont.com/fifth-grade-passport. The passport is available to any fifth grader, regardless of state of residency. In addition, many resorts in Vermont offer free or highly discounted lift tickets for kids 6 years old and under. Check with your favorite area, or Ski Vermont, for the specifics.
Killington is offering guests who purchase a five-day lift ticket a free ticket for a child 12 and under for the same time frame. This is a great perk for families planning a vacation there.
Suicide Six recently has added an incentive to get the whole family on the slopes together. The Book It School Pass, for school-age children in kindergarten through senior year of high school in Vermont and New Hampshire, is only $99. This is a full season pass with no restrictions. And the bonus is, parents or guardians may purchase a season pass at a reduced rate.
Middlebury Snow Bowl has an option that many parents will love. Called the shared parent/guardian pass, it allows one parent to ski while the other watches the non-skiing tots. Then they can switch off using the same pass. Both get to ski for the price of one ticket.
Deals for kids are not limited to lift tickets. Kids need gear, and outgrow it fast. Loon Mountain’s Junior Has a Fit program is an affordable way to outfit your kids for the season with up-to-date equipment. Kids have the gear they need for the winter, then return the equipment at the end of the season for a credit toward next year’s gear. It is available for children 12 and under, and they must be able to fit into junior equipment.
Aspen East Ski Shop, near the Killington Access Road, offers season leases of junior ski equipment for ski sizes 130 cm and under. The package includes skis and boots, and you can choose previously rented or brand-new equipment for a reasonable price. An added feature is the ability to change equipment sizes if needed during the winter. The same program, with previously rented equipment, is available to adults as well.
At Bob Skinner’s Ski & Sport, located next to the entrance to Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, all kids 5 and under get free rentals any day. Country Ski & Sport, with three Massachusetts locations, offers annual equipment leases for both junior and adult ski and snowboard equipment.
Many resorts throughout New England offer season-long rental packages. They are a good deal if you plan to ski or ride a lot but are not ready to commit to purchasing equipment. It’s especially good for kids, as their sizes may change during the winter or from season to season.
Also, be on the lookout for equipment sales and swaps in your town or at resorts near you. This is also a good way to get outfitted for the season for a reasonable price.
Check with your favorite resort, or with the state ski associations, for other deals and promotions during the winter. Take advantage of the many money-saving opportunities to get your kids and yourself skiing and riding this winter. Get out, get on snow, and have fun.
Joan Wallen can be reached at [email protected].