Squaw Valley's Squaw Kids Snowsports School has 12,000 square feet of space for kids between the ages of 3 and 12 to enjoy. Located at the base of the mountain, the Center is adjacent to six lifts, a state-of-the-art Funitel, and a 110 passenger aerial Cable Car. Squaw Kids provides several full day and half day programs tailored to the age and ability of each child. Squaw Kids is a ONE-STOP center for families, where all of the children's needs are taken care of (rentals, lift tickets and lessons).
Matt Smith at Squaw Kids set my son up with a fantastic experience for his abilities. My son is 11-years-old and he has autism. While he is verbal, he doesn't process information the same way typical kids and his attention span is a little on the short side. Because this is typical of a lot of spectrum kids, Squaw Valley offers them 1:1 lessons at 50% off the what a typical private lesson would cost. A break is given on rentals as well.
Then my son was partnered with Jay, a caring fun combination of big kid and adult-style leadership. He has a nephew with autism whom he frequently hits the slopes with. He connected with my son immediately and they had a fantastic time together!
Before the lesson began, Jay and I had a chat where I had the opportunity to front load him with information about my son --- his current obsessions, his abilities, and what I want for my child to get out of this lesson.
I prefer to keep these things simple, I set two goals: 1.) To simply refresh skills attained from previous lessons and 2.) To learn to safety load and unload from a chair lift. My son had his last two ski lessons using rope tows and magic carpet lifts, I felt it was time to learn to deal with a chairlift.
Jay took my child's current movie and TV show obsessions and built a ski lesson around them. They raced down the hill like the characters vying for the Dinoco sponsorship in the movie Cars. They positioned their skis like French Fries and Pizza slices and they sang while doing these things, sometimes involving lift operators and other Squaw Valley employees in their songs. Three hours of happiness and carefree fun where my son had no idea he was learning while laughing.
At lunch time, Jay returned a happy ravenous child who was ready to eat a hearty lunch. If you're looking for Adaptive lessons for your spectrum kids, I highly recommend Squaw Kids. Say hi to Jay for us!
This was my kid's 3rd snowboarding lesson and they sat on their butts more than they actually went down the hill! Lesson started at 9am, by 11:30, they had gone down the hill 3 times!! My kids are 9 and 11 and Squaw was informed about my kids prior "experience." They did not need to be babysat, they needed to get experience on the hill! I thank goodness that this wasn't my kids first lesson, I don't think they would have ever wanted to go again! Their other 2 lessons at North Star and Diamond Peak (both in Tahoe) were positive and ACTIVE and great! Squaw sits on it's high horse, but their service and knowledge of what is best for kids is sh**! I would so much rather visit a nice, little resort and ENJOY my day!
I took my 4-year-old son to kids ski school. I was nervous because he doesn't like to be separated from me, but I felt hopeful we’d have a good experience and was happy when we walked into the kids’ ski school building and saw that the room was decorated with happy colors and cartoon murals.
Just as I expected, my son did not want me to leave him and started crying. There is a stairway just outside the kids’ camp door, so I pulled him out of kids camp, sat him on the steps, and gave him some chips. (This is a great place to hide and spy on your kid while they are in camp because you have a good view of the inside of the camp area.) When my son had calmed down, I sent him back in. There were two or three employees inside the kids ski school and just a few kids. The instructor dressed all the kids and took them outside.
My son did not like the way the ski's felt under his feet and spent a good deal of time crying. Even though my child didn't want to participate, his instructor gently encouraged him and was very patient with him. (I was very pleased with how wonderfully she treated all the kids.) Sadly, after 30 minutes of watching my child cry from around the corner, I went ahead and pulled him out.
Our lesson was not successful, but not because of the ski school, they were great, it was because my son was too young. My only tip is that sometimes it takes a while for the instructors to get the kids all dressed and ready to go outside, so if you have a little child that can't take care of themselves, I recommend hanging around, even if that means hiding around the corner in the stairway, so you can step in and help your child in the event they are overheating from being all dressed up in their snow gear and sitting inside for too long.
Little kids can’t say, “Excuse me, may I please go stand outside because I’m burning up. It’s hot in here.” So just keep an eye out for that.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary lesson to facilitate this review. I was not asked to express any particular opinion. My thoughts are my own.
In theory, Squaw Kids is great.
We went over Christmas weekend, and it was PACKED. It took a long time to check the kids in, and with the special holiday rate, it was about $300, (or was it $400, I tried to pour brain bleach on that fact,) each morning for both of my kids to be in ski school.
Was it worth the money and hassle? Perhaps.
In exchange for the money, we did get to just check the kids in, without having to fit them for boots and skis, which was very nice.
My 3 year old was with one other child for her lessons. The first day of her lesson, she refused to put on her skis. They called us and we had to pick her up. (Our instructor from the adult school though, offered to just take her along. She LOVED that! He just guided her and taught us how to ski.) The second day, I heard she went out on the slopes. I didn't actually see her ski.
My 6 year old really enjoyed his time, but he had enough after the 2 1/2 hours and did not want to stay for lunch and continue for the afternoon.
The instructors were energetic, kind, and sweet.
The ski school was pretty far from the other areas, which made it hard to check in to see if the kids are doing well.
We were late to picking them up both times, because, the kiddie lessons ended BEFORE the adult lessons, and it always took longer to get to them than planned. The coordinator was kinda mad at us...
Anyway, I would do it again, but not over holiday weekends when they charge peak rates and when everyone else is also there.
I have to preface that our trip was partially compensated by Squaw Valley and arranged by Trekaroo in exchange for an honest, un-biased review by yours truly. Our lodgings, lift tickets, lessons and rentals were comped. The rest of the $$$ squandered is something that we did of our own volition, but believe me, totally worth it regardless of the free diggs! In fact we had such a good time (again, un-biased) we're thinking about buying a time share...nice work Squaw Valley!
I feel bad leaving such a glowing review since our experience was very much the opposite of the previous poster :0(
While we were not there during peak season everything from drop-off to pick-up was great for our son and he said he couldn't wait to go back.
Our son was very connected to his second instructor, but found no qualms with the first, and made significant progress in just two days after being off the board for most of the season last year. The instructor realized his current board (the one his Uncle had just gifted him) was still a bit too big and resized him to the right size. This made his turning much easier, and helped with his stopping skills, too. While we opted for half days, since our son wanted to do runs with his dad in the afternoon, ski school started on time, and he was on the slopes immediately. I followed our kid up so I could see him off, and he looked pretty happy and came out even happier. While I agree the instructors are laid back, I did not feel that the kid's best interest or safety was at anytime not considered a top priority.
In all, we had a great time, and we are already eagerly looking forward to enrolling our kids back into the program this winter.
We had both our kids in squaw kids ski school (3 and 6). They had fun riding up the carpet and chair rail and skiing down the bunny hills. But unfortunately, that's as much credit I can give. Since this is a seasonal activity, the ski Instructors are poorly trained when it comes to working with and supervising our children. I know this is for ski instruction and not for childcare, but the reality is that these Instructors are responsible for our children for at least half a day and much of that day is NOT spent on skis. Sadly, I found my 6 yr old sequestered upstairs with a dozen other sweating kids watching television fully dressed in their snow gear. 2 of them were crying and 3 out of the 4 Instructors up there sitting away from the kids having their own conversation. When I asked the trio about the kids schedule and why they were watching tv in full snowgear, one of them told me to 'chill out' and that they were just waiting for their ski instructors.
We were told to bring kids to ski school at 8am, but no later than 8:30am. Unfortunately, they did not tell us that they would not be skiing until 9.30am. They also did not tell us that our kids would be sent upstairs to watch tv for an entire hour while dehydrating and minimally supervised.
This ski school didn't have their act together. I did speak with the Director and she was pleasant and tried to keep everything running smoothly but there are inherent challenges to work with when you are running a seasonal activity with temporary and under qualified staff.
If you are considering having your kids learn to ski with them, don't forget to pack them a snack for break time. They also failed to tell us this on Day One, so our 6 yr-old didn't have anything to eat during break.
Overall, the ski instructors are good but not as patient with the older kids as you might want. The staff that work at squaw kids are not so good. I understand it's difficult to staff with proper qualifications but they must be trained. I saw one too many kid crying, walking around aimlessly, not being attended to or soothed. So many of these kids (the "teachers") are young and unresponsive to the needs of children.
Get the inside scoop from parents who have been there!