Lake Tahoe

Absolute Rave: Preschooler and Child Ski Lessons at Squaw Valley

Monday February 6, 2017

Bean spent last week learning how to ski with a friend at Squaw Valley’s Squaw Kids, and people, I couldn’t have been happier with it.

We had chosen Squaw Valley for the simple reason that they start classes at three years old (kids have to be four at Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe). I had a few reservations about it all. Mostly, that I really really like South Lake Tahoe and Heavenly, for the convenience and all the amenities we’ve fallen in love with over the past couple years.

And then there was that primal fear of my little kid being sent barreling down a mountain side. Like, would she even survive it? Did I have to fear concussions or broken limbs? Would she be terrified of the teacher? Would she be in some class with 10 other (bigger, stronger, slight stubble already growing) wiz kid 3 year olds who pick up skiing like riding a tricycle?

(Who are you calling a helicopter parent?)

(Hey, people DIE skiing. This is true and none of you can debate it.)

THANKFULLY, that ended up all being the product of an overanxious mom’s brain because Squaw Kids was absolutely perfect for both of our (very different) kids.

The drop off every day is brief — they do not want you to linger or stay. A joyful sign proclaimed “parents say goodbye here!” decorated with butterflies and flowers. Helicopter parents, be gone.

Three young peppy women swooped in to swan over Bean, wishing her a happy birthday and literally fawning over her mittens and hat. Bean, who doesn’t handle new situations well, barely looked over her shoulder to say “bye olds, I’ve got new friends now.” She cheerfully left us in the dust. As I said, perfect.

Then, Dave and I got to treat ourselves to a long, relaxing brunch in front of the fireplace at a lodge. In that kind of awed silence that comes with suddenly being free of children. This is another point in Squaw Valley’s favor — the mountain is right there, no need to take a gondola up to the top for ski lessons (as at Heavenly). We could drop her off at ski lessons and then turn around and walk to the village for shopping and cafes.

If you think I didn’t then proceed to spy on the class using my telephoto lens, then you’ve given me waaa-aa-aaay too much credit.

First up, maybe because we were there mid-week, there were only three kids in Bean’s class, so it ended up functioning more like a private lesson, with individual attention on each kid. Awesome.

On top of that, Bean wasn’t handling the class too well (terrified of standing on skis), and so a sweet Australian teacher with a high ponytail proceeded to spend the rest of the class, yes all three hours of it, holding Bean’s hand and offering big hugs when she needed them. Meanwhile, Bean’s friend — a three year old thrill-seeker of a kid — spent the time zooming down the training hillside, picking up skiing lessons from the instructor at her own (much faster) pace.

As everyone told me, the real miracle would happen on the second day, and it totally did. We spied Bean skiing down the hillside all by herself, happy as a clam, and managing the magic carpet like a pro. For a while, we didn’t believe it was actually her. I can’t even imagine the patience required to get her there; all we had seen from the instructors were high-fives, huge smiles, and massive hugs.

Every day after class, Bean and her friend were just so PROUD of themselves for being real true skiers, so full of joy to be outdoors and playing in the snow. It was a really fun week for everyone, and most of it thanks to Squaw Kids.

If you’ve been thinking about ski lessons for your little ones, or thinking about a trip to Tahoe to take advantage of all this snow, GO GO GO. The snow pack is unbelievable this year, and we still found deals in the middle of winter.




Squaw Kids

Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Village

Phone: 530-452-7225

For kids 3-13

Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels

Half day or full day classes

Offering a range of packages, some including ski rentals and lift tickets

Private lessons are also available

You save $20 by booking in advance


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