Northstar-at-Tahoe offers private and group ski and snowboard lessons for kids 3 to 12. Lessons are available for children at all skill levels. Half and full day sessions are offered, with the full day including lunch. Lesson only option is available for those who have their own equipment and lunch. Kids have to full potty-trained. Lucky stars for 3 year olds is a half and half option that includes 1 hour of skiing in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon with indoor activities for the rest of the day.
Northstar also offers 2 hour Parent and Me classes as well as a 45 minute mommy, daddy and me lesson Sunday through Friday that's FREE.
2009-10 deals at Northstar-at-Tahoe:
Reserve a two day lesson and save 50% on the second day's lesson price.
Northstar-at-Tahoe has managed to construct a ski school program that spans the range of skills and ability for typically developing children but also for kids on the autism spectrum as well.
I grew up on the slopes of this resort and I am thrilled that my son, who is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum can now enjoy the sport that was such a big part of my childhood. Thank you Northstar for offering Adaptive Skiing!
Adaptive skiing has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for disabled and special needs skiers of all ages and abilities. Where one skier may need special equipment to enjoy the sport another, like my son, would depend on behavioral supports. Autism often shows itself in restricted and repetitive behaviors, in my son it is no different. Obsessive behaviors quite often get in the way of my son’s learning, his instructor got around this by reframing the behavior. He very cleverly took my son’s obsession of the day --- the kids’ movie “Wrecked Ralph” --- and incorporated it into his ski lesson.
The result -- a great deal of pride on my son's face as well as a feeling of accomplishment as he mastered "Fix It Felix" fries (straight skis) and the "Wreck Ralph Rocket" (ie the snow plow).
Not only does Northstar offer private adaptive skiing lessons at a discounted rate as compared compared to the ski school’s standard private lesson, the resort also sells adaptive ski passes for adults and children. I always recommend that families carry a diagnosis letter with them when they travel to take advantage of wonderful programs like this one. Always call in advance to book such lessons as they quickly fill up.
Disclosure: Thanks to Northstar at Tahoe for hosting my family. Although my family received complimentary lodging, dining, and activities, my reviews are always my own opinions and are not influenced by staff or its affiliates.
I've always thought private family lessons would be too expensive, but if you have 2-3 kids, they may actually be a deal! At Northstar, my three kids experienced a private lesson and I learned about benefits I'd never thought of: they got much more individualized attention, of course, but also enjoyed front of the line access (which was a huge time savings) all morning, and a tour of the (unfamiliar to us) mountain from an expert guide. When the lesson ended at lunch, they knew right where they wanted to head back to. Up to 6 people can be on a private lesson, making it cheaper than ski school if you all want to participate!
If you really want your kids to learn to ski, don't put them in ski-school. Ski-school is essentially a poor-quality day-care center with a bit of time on skis thrown in. My 5 year old daughter spent 2 days here over President's Week. It must be said that this review is based on the most crowded times of the season, and may not reflect typical experiences. However, there are some universal truths about ski school:
1) Disruptive, rude, cranky, whiny kids are par for the course. There is at least one in every class.
2) The instructors will spend the most time and effort dealing with the kids who least want to be there.
3) Your child, who of course is a perfect angel, will wait while the bratty kids get all the attention.
If you are looking for someplace to park your 4-6 year old kids so you can squeeze in an hour or two of skiing, Northstar is fine. They will introduce young kids to the snow in a fun, non-threatening, energetic manner. But, at this age it is really just daycare. A very impersonal, corporate daycare that handles hundreds of kids a day.
My six year old, Caleb, was really nervous about spending the day in ski school with a bunch of people he didn't know and without us. On our way to register him on the beautiful snow covered Monday morning, he was actually almost in tears at the idea of being without us, saying over and over, "Mommy, I really don't want to do this." Almost turning around several times and forgoing ski school over my breaking heart, we pressed on and eventually reached the registration table. We were met by a young woman wearing a bright red and white "Northstar Ski School Instructor" jacket, and a smile that matched the brightness of her uniform- A nice welcome.
At sign in, Caleb, received a preprinted ticket with his name, date, and registration number on it. I asked his ski instructor if she had any advice for a pretty nervous first time skier. She immediately got the hint and bent down to Caleb's level and reassured him that they were going to have so much fun. She started telling him all about making pizza slices with his skis, snack time, riding the gondola, and more. That seemed enough for Caleb to form a quick but hesitant smile. With that cue, I bent down and kissed his cheek and told him that his daddy and I'd check in on him a little later and that we loved him and would see him soon. As I turned to exit, I watched the instructor take his hand and lead my brave little guy down a brightly colored space themed hallway to where he'd meet the other kids in his class, and get set up. These instructors were obviously very experienced in helping kids adjust to this new situation.
The first part of ski school for beginners is led in the Galaxy (an outdoor snow packed area with stationary carpets to help kids walk up, and very small sloped baby hills. Each class had its own sectioned off area so they don't get in each other's way. There was a terrific parent viewing area next to the Galaxy with a brick like patio area, tables, chairs, and even a small pub area if you wanted to grab a drink.
Once the instructor is comfortable with the class's performance, they all walk together to the gondola and ride to the middle part of the mountain next to the day lodge. Caleb's class practiced the first part of the day on the Galaxy course, had lunch (which was provided for him and included in the price), and then the second part of the day was spent at the ski school session on the mountain. When the class gets off the gondola at the middle of the mountain, they walk to the special roped off area especially for ski school kids. The main area in which they spend the remaining portion of their day has a "magic carpet", which they stand on with their ski's and ride single file as a class to either level 1, 2, or 3 depending on their skills and instructor. Caleb loved the magic carpet as did every other child I saw there and they corrected any adult who simply called the carpet a carpet. "No, it's a magic carpet," you would hear them say with smiles on their faces.
Because the classes were so small, I didn't see a single class with over 4 children per instructor. As a result, everything seemed to run smoothly and the instructors seemed to manage the classes easily. I especially enjoyed that they didn't discourage parent involvement as far as taking pictures behind the roped off fence, and cheering for your child as they mastered a turn or made it down the hill without falling.
At 3:30, when classes were over, we met Caleb back at the Galaxy area where his instructor took our preprinted ticket we had received earlier, and gave us a rundown of the skills Caleb had learned and what class he should be placed in the following day if we were coming back. Because Caleb did go to ski school for two days in a row, we kept the boots overnight, but they held onto the ski's for his second day.
Caleb had so much fun learning how to ski with his class, that the following day, he practically pulled me to the registration table and barely kissed me goodbye before taking off down the space themed hallway. I was overjoyed to see him having so much fun and was excited for him to share with me all the new things he would learn the second day.
Even now, almost 2 months later, he still talks about ski school and what a wonderful time he had. His one request for next year: "Mommy, I can't wait to go back to ski school next year, but can I go for a whole week?"
"This review is based on a complimentary visit to Northstar Ski School. I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view."