An outing to Mt. Hood Meadows provides your family with great opportunities to spend time together, experiencing something new with each other. The pure recreation skiing and snowboarding provides such natural awe-inspiring beauty prompts discussion and builds bonds. Families need these times together away from the day-to-day distractions that so fill our lives.
So make the break to Meadows - get your family up here. And if you have a story to tell about the recreating qualities bringing your family to Meadows has created, please make a comment on our "Guest Stories" Blog!
Here are some great tips and ideas that will help you prepare for an even better time at Meadows with your family.
General Benefits of Skiing and Snowboarding
- Provides both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning
- Gives the whole body a workout, especially strengthening the legs.
- Helps kids improve balance and hand-eye coordination.
- Racing and training in inclement weather builds mental toughness and resilience.
- Both cross-country and downhill skiing are great family sports. You can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while getting exercise.
Kids who Tend to Excel & What Age to Start
- A skier requires balance, fine motor control in the knees and ankles to steer, and strong leg muscles.
- Skiing requires a certain amount of strength, technical control, and a spirit for adventure.
- Cross-country skiing demands endurance and strength.
- Most children are not ready to try skiing until age 3 or 4. Meadows offers private lessons for 3 year olds, and KidSki / KidsRide program at age 4. Our children’s ski school is a combination of introduction to skiing, play in the snow, and childcare. Many parents will take children out themselves on the beginner hill which we encourage.
- Your child needs sufficient motor skills and strength to control the direction of her skis, turn them into a wedge in order to make turns and control speed, and stay on balance. Make sure your child is physically strong enough to walk around in skis and boots, and can last at least one hour outside in the snow and cold. Being ready to ski also depends on your child’s attention span, stamina, willingness to fall down in the snow, and the desire to just try it.
- Nordic, or cross-country skiing, can start between the ages of 4 and 7, although most kids do not start until around age 10.
What to Look for When Getting Started
- Mt. Hood Meadows Children's Learning Center is a PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) affiliated ski school providing lessons for all ages and abilities, but especially geared towards teaching young first timers technique while having fun on the snow. Our program is and always has been kid-focused.
- We have a separate children’s and beginner area called the "Fun Zone" where the first time lesson takes place - a total ski school should have a separate beginner’s teaching area from the slopes, with a relatively flat or gently sloped terrain.
- The teaching area should be filled with colorful props and teaching aids, ranging from cones to structures to ski around or through.
Private vs. Group Lessons
- Skiing professionals recommend investing in lessons for your child even if you are an experienced skier. For a beginner ski lesson, a half-day program is plenty. In beginner lessons, your child will become comfortable with the equipment, work on a wedge turn, snowplough stop, and ride a chair lift. Most lessons start children off without ski poles. Children’s instructors often use descriptions like “make your skis into a pizza” or “make your skis like French fries” to teach snowplowing and skiing parallel.
- Many kids prefer group lessons because they enjoy being with a sibling, friend, or peer group.
- If your child has a difficult time in a large group environment, it may be worth investing in a couple of private lessons with a children’s ski instructor. The private lessons will often accelerate the learning curve.
- It is recommended that your child wears a specially designed ski helmet to prevent or lessen head injuries from falls and collisions.
- Goggles help protect eyes and enhance visibility depending on the weather.
- Bindings are designed to release during a fall and should be set based on your child’s weight and ability. Have a ski shop check to ensure that your child’s ski bindings are properly adjusted.
- Teach your child to watch out for rocks and patches of ice, always stay on marked trails, and take easy trails at the end of the day when being tired leads to most injuries.
- Frostbite can be an issue when the temperature drops low and often it is much colder at the top of the mountain than at the base lifts. Dress your child warmly, in layers, and in clothing that allows her to move freely. Mittens keep fingers warmer than gloves, and waterproof ones are a necessity. Snow pants keep legs from getting wet and cold. A hat is essential as most body heat gets lost through one’s head.
- Have your child use sunscreen, as it’s easy to get sunburned from the sun reflecting off the snow.
Tips for an Enjoyable Lesson
Be on time (or early) for registration – that way you are not rushed through the process. (Morning drop off time is 8:30-9:30 and afternoon drop off time is 12:15-12:30). Pack all gear the night before so you don’t forget something in the morning rush.
Have energy for the day
Be sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and is fully rested. Allow plenty of driving time for traffic and weather.
Ensure your child has the energy to make it through the day make sure they have eaten a hearty breakfast (some protein is good) and are well hydrated. Giving your child a quick snack before the lesson starts is a great idea – especially if you have had a long drive! The healthier the snack the better – that way they don’t crash shortly after (hot chocolate is a diuretic, doughnuts and sugary cereals pretty much guarantee a sugar crash).
Be sure to dress your child in proper ski gear – waterproof/water resistant snow pants/coat/gloves/hat/helmet, neck gaiter or high collar as well as appropriate layers. Pack an extra set of gloves and socks. Always bring goggles for your child – especially on snowy days, sunglasses are great for those warm sunny spring days!
When dressing your child make sure that the only thing in their boots are their feet and one pair of well-fitting socks (preferably not cotton). Any extra layers tucked in can be painful!