Where do we park? Most areas have a designated parking lot at the base of the mountain with signs pointing the way. However, because of the way some areas are laid out, you may have to take a shuttle, bus, or tram. Check into this before you drive around for an hour, stressed about being late to your child's lesson. Many places offer special "up close" parking for an additional charge. It may be worth it if you have small children and a load to carry.

How do we learn more about the type of terrain at the mountain? Each area is unique. What may be a mountain to one person might be another's molehill. Check the trail map out ahead of time on the web or pick one up at the mountain but be sure to look at it together before going out on the hill. Also, ask employees at the area for terrain suggestions.

If you are riding with your children, plan your first couple of runs as "warm up" runs on easier trails. Spend time with them to see that they understand the trail markings and what they mean.

Do you have any advice to prepare for a day on the slopes? A well-balanced breakfast in the morning is the most important thing you can do for children the day they go on snow. This food will fuel them for the better half of the day. In addition, some small snacks in their jacket pockets can go a long way. Natural foods, such as fruit and nuts, are a better alternative than processed, sugary and salty foods. Encourage drinking water throughout the day. Consider lunch foods as well, but keep in mind that lunch may be provided in an all-day lesson.

Beauty sleep is a must. Make sure your child has had plenty of rest prior to a day on the mountain. If you travel the day before and your child has not had a full 8-10 hours of rest, he may not have his best day.

Consider resting the first day to acclimate, enjoy the new surroundings, and give your family the best opportunity to succeed and have fun. If you live at a low altitude and travel to a much higher altitude for your vacation, the acclimation time allows a chance to get used to the new environment. Take it easy. Shop and go sightseeing. Watch a movie, read books together, play board games, or visit the hotel pool. Do the things together that you never have the time or energy to do at home.

If you have time, the following can make your day of skiing/riding more enjoyable:

  • Stop at the coffee shop for a drink; get your child one, too.
  • Don't make your child walk around in her ski boots. Carry the boots with you and put them on at the meeting place (this saves your child energy and you a lot of stress).
  • Give yourself plenty of extra time so you don't feel rushed.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Watch others skiing/riding down the mountain.
  • Look at a trail map together.

If you own your equipment, have it checked out by a professional periodically to be sure the bindings are functioning correctly and the bases are well tuned for a nice glide.

Did you and your child enjoy the trip? Does your child want to go back for more? If so, tell your friends and family and come back again! Coach them for success. If the experience was not quite what you expected, please let the management know so they might be able to improve their services to improve your next trip. If your children are happy, you will be happy. The best thing for parents is when their children have a good time and learn something new. Winter sports are some of the best family activities you will ever find. Enjoy them often!

© American Snowsports Education Association Education Foundation