In full disclosure, I was provided with lessons for my children in exchange for my honest review.
Ever since I became a mom, I swore that I would get my kids on skis starting as soon as they were big enough to fit into ski boots!
Since I made my kids’ “learn to ski” goal 3 years old, I had to find the perfect ski mountain that would allow my kids to learn and grow as skiers in a way that worked with their personality. When Tyler was 3 years old, we tried him on skis, but his personality is a little timid and fearful so it was not the right time. I knew I needed to wait until he was a little older. Trevor, however, is my wild one, and if he wasn’t so tiny, he would have started at age 2!
Trevor turned 3 in December so the hunt was on. Since we live so close to the Poconos it was easy to find the perfect mountain for Trevor’s first lesson and to find a program to boost Tyler’s confidence. After careful research, I found that Shawnee Mountain offered everything I wanted and more!
What Does Shawnee Offer?
Besides offering 23 slopes and trails, 2 terrain parks, 6 chair lifts, 3 carpets and tubing, Shawnee has amazing children’s programs! Their learn to ski programs have something for everyone beginning at age 3 years old! Kids can enjoy half day (morning or afternoon) or full day sessions, private lessons and even a Mommy and Me class. Here is what each program offers:
3 Hour Sessions for Kids
Kids ages 4 -15 years old can enjoy 3 hour group lessons in the morning (9:30am-12:30pm) or afternoon (1:30pm-4:30pm). Children ages 7 – 15 years old can also choose a full day option. Each package comes with ski rentals and a youth lift ticket. Kids will also get a snack during break time, and full day students are provided a healthy lunch. What I love the most about this program is that there is a special area just for beginner skiers to learn and feel safe.
Tyler was part of the SKIwee program which is for children ages 4 – 6 years old. We participated in the afternoon session which was perfect because it gave Tyler some time to practice with his dad before heading to his lesson. Before his session, he had a custom boot fitting with an incredibly friendly staff member. Every employee in the Children’s Learning Center happily answered all of my questions and showed wonderful patience with my boys (because as kids love to do, they tried to touch EVERYTHING). After the boot fitting, we headed over to the rental center and picked up Tyler’s skis.
At 1:30pm, I dropped Tyler off at the Youth Programs entrance which was easy to find as there was a large red banner where the line formed. Of course, Tyler made friends in line before we even entered the training area. When we got to the front of the line, we were greeted by a very pleasant staff member who happily took my baby off to his lesson (after I kissed him goodbye and said, “Have fun!” of course).
During the lesson, parents can watch from the sidelines of the designated learning area; however, it is not really recommended until the end. We all know that once our kids see us, there can be one of two reactions: They cry and whine and want to leave OR they get silly and try to show off which is definitely not what you want to happen during a ski lesson. I cannot lie, however, that I did sneak some peaks while I rode the carpet to the Little Chief hill (don’t judge). I was beaming with pride as I watched him converse with new friends and ski down the small hill independently. What was even better is that he had a big smile on his face the entire time!
At around 4:15pm, I headed over to watch the end of the lesson. Tyler was so comfortable with his instructors and the activities they had him participate in. His level of confidence had increased tremendously, and I could see in his face that he had a new found love for skiing! He received a report card at the end showing all he had learned. This is a wonderful souvenir that we can refer to as he takes new lessons and learns more skills!
Also available is the Mountain Cruisers program for children ages 7 – 15 years old. This program has a half-day and full day option. The Young Riders program is for snowboarders ages 7 – 15. This program is a half-day program offered in the morning and afternoon. Each program (SKIwee, Mountain Cruisers and Young Riders) costs only $100 for one session and $275 for 3 sessions. That’s a great deal!!
Shawnee also offers lessons for the littlest of skiers and riders. This is one of the reasons I chose Shawnee as our “Learn to Ski” family destination. Trevor participated in the SKIbaby program which introduces 3 year olds to the world of skiing. It is a one hour private lesson that includes a custom boot fitting, ski rental and a snack at the end. When we arrived at the Children’s Learning Center, Trevor was so excited to get his FIRST pair of ski boots. The staff member was so friendly and patient making it a wonderful experience for Trevor (and Mommy).
After getting his boots, Trevor was provided with his little skis. There is just something so unbelievably adorable about a 3 year old in skis! Our lesson was scheduled for 2:30pm which gave us time to practice walking in the boots and skis and practicing on the Little Chiefs hill (yes, the same one Mommy went on..again, don’t judge).
After eating lunch to recharge Trevor’s battery, we brought him to the Children’s Learning Center around 2:20pm. He gave us some trouble because he did not like his gloves, but with the help of his amazing instructor, Jeremy, and staff member Sarah, Trevor put his gloves back on and was ready to go. He was brought to his lesson in a colorful sled which Trevor really enjoyed. I have to admit, I almost cried as my baby went off on his first ski lesson. I knew he was in great hands so I was in no way nervous which made the experience that much better!
Trevor’s lesson took place in a designated Learning Center next to the Little Chief hill. I was unable to watch this lesson, but thanks to the amazing Kevin Furst, I was able to get a firsthand look with his incredible pictures! Trevor learned about ski safety, balance and coordination all while having fun. He even built a snowman! I met Trevor and his instructor at the Children’s Learning Center around 3:30pm. Jeremy shared with me everything Trevor learned while Trevor enjoyed a snack. He also received a report card that will definitely be put in his scrapbook!
Also available for little ones is a Mommy and Me class which is a one hour private lesson that includes rentals for the child. Parents must provide their own skis and purchase a lift ticket. This program is only $70. The WEEriders program is for children ages 4 – 6 year olds who want to learn to snowboard. This 2-hour group session that includes rentals is only $85. Have a 3 year old who wants to snowboard? No problem! The WEErider Park is for 3 -6 year olds with the desire to learn to snowboard. It includes a one hour private lesson, rentals and access to the WEErider Park. The cost is only $90.
There are so many reasons for kids to take ski lessons. For my boys, they not only learned about ski safety and basic technique, they also built confidence! Both of my boys left their lesson with a sense of pride and accomplishment. They had huge smiles on their faces and asked, “Mom, when can we come back?” Shawnee Mountain accomplished exactly what I had always wanted, for my kids to LOVE skiing!
I also cannot stress enough the incredible patience the Shawnee staff possess! This made the learning experience that much more successful and memorable for my boys and for us as parents! If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 15, I highly recommend registering for one of the amazing ski programs I mentioned above.