Liberty Mountain in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania
Let me first tell you: We are not a skiing family. My husband grew up in Lafayette, LA, and I grew up riding horses wherever my Army family happened to be stationed. In our early adulthood, we separately learned to ski, never moving beyond proficient or “pretty good.” In other words, we were lucky to escape the slopes without a “yard sale” (when you crash so hard all your gear flies off in separate directions, leaving the side of the mountain with a yard sale-like appearance).
But both my husband and I like to ski, and we wanted to introduce our kids to the sport. Well, two of them—we chose not to put clip-on skis on our youngest, Kiefer. At 21 months, they do make skis to fit little ones like him and I understand why people who ski often and well encourage their youngest to ski at his age. With three, we’re out numbered, so Lorelei, 5 ½, and Ben, 4, were the lucky ones during this family adventure.
We did this in two steps—we’re a plan-ahead type family.
First, my husband took the day off of work and drove up to Liberty Mountain with Lorelei when she was home from school for a teacher workday. They signed up for a “Ski With Me” lesson, where the instructor does two things.
First, he focuses on teaching the child how to ski; second, he coaches the parent on how to help ski with a child safely, and have them gain confidence on the slopes. For this class, the parent must have “decent knowledge” of how to ski themselves. We checked that box—barely.
Second, our whole family went back to Ski Liberty two weeks later. We left our house around 6:15 am and arrived at the mountain at am. Getting there early meant we snuck in before the crowds did, and we were able to get up and down the mountain without waiting in line at the lift at all. By 10 am, the slopes were filling up and the equipment rental area was a zoo—it would have been tough to keep track of three (excited and nervous) young kids.
I took the “Ski With Me” class with Ben, and Lorelei took a private lesson with the same instructor she had before. My husband kindly volunteered to stay back in the warm lodge with Kiefer toddling around, trying his best to keep an eye on all of us on the slope while also making sure Kiefer didn’t get run over by the growing number of skiers arriving for President’s Day. (Though we chose not to use it, there is “playcare” available.)
The “Ski With Me” lesson was fantastic. It wasn’t cheap—it cost $115 for an hour. Just moments after meeting our instructor David, Ben and I clumsily shuffled our way to the ski lifts.
Our first lesson was safety on the ski lift; David showed me how to secure Ben with my ski pole while simultaneously pulling the bar over both of us. I appreciated this expert instruction after hearing the stories my friend told me about how her 4 year old nearly rode the lift back down the mountain after my friend, her mom, nearly didn’t get her off quickly enough!
David guided my son down the mountain, instructing both Ben and I the entire way down. “You’ve got to keep talking to him the whole time,” he told me. “Get down low so the pole is his height—you’ll get a good workout, too, resting back in a squat position.”
To Ben: “Good job, buddy! Keep your arms out! Don’t let your skis kiss each other! You’re doing great!” I would have been more impressed with all the things David did right had I not been focusing on remembering how to ski (it’s been a while). Plus, I was in awe of Ben—his eagerness and boldness and confidence blew me away!
On our second run, Ben asked David if he could ski by himself. David and I both chuckled a little, but appreciated the guy’s moxie. Ben didn’t ski by himself the whole way down, but he did for little stretches a few times on the way down.
In between these stretches, he held on to my pole, and I practiced coaching him, guiding him and not causing him to fall. I admit I did make him fall—but only once, and I fell, too. We both had the chance to practice getting right back up and right back at it. In all, we got in six runs in one hour, and Ben was grinning and laughing the whole time, clearly very proud of himself.
Meanwhile, Lorelei skied with her instructor, Spike. At one point, Ben, David and I were on the ski lift and Lorelei and Spike whizzed by kamikaze-like beneath us.
More cautious than Ben, Lorelei was clutching Spike’s right hand with both of her little hands, determined not to let him go and ski by herself. David commented: “She might ski a little better if she lost the death grip!”
It was true, but that’s Lorelei—timid and brave all at the same time. Her major accomplishment that day was going with an instructor she barely knew, without the mental and physical comfort of a parent within the reach.
Lorelei’s private, one-hour lesson was $95. We knew she wasn’t ready for a two-hour group lesson, and because we got the kids started at the end of the season, the other options (read more about them out at http://www.libertymountainresort.com) didn’t make sense for our family at this time.
Lorelei was thrilled to see Spike, excited to introduce the rest of her family to him, and to continue “skiing better than Daddy” that day and maybe for the rest of her lift.
In case you’re wondering my husband’s fate, I relieved him of Kiefer duty and he got to ski. While the kids warmed up with some hot chocolate and gobbled down muffins the size of their heads, he put on his gear and went down the mountain once by himself.
Then he took the big kids, one at a time, on one run before we called it a day. They got to show off their new skills to him and he got to see the smiles I had seen earlier.
In all, this was an adventure for all of us—we took a big leap out of our normal routine and tried out a new sport as a family. We were all enthusiastic about our experience.
Our kids had the opportunity to face a new challenge, and we were lucky enough to watch them earn some self-confidence each time they reached the bottom in one piece. I think they are already counting down the days to next winter. We will be back!
|I Would Return to This Store||yes|
|I Would Recommend to a Friend||yes|
All ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being highest.
Meet the Reviewer!
Kate Schwarz is a full-time mom
and wife living in Great Falls, VA.
In addition to reading to her three
small hildren, Kate runs marathons,
Crossfits, and blogs about raising
kids with books at