Hit the slopes: Nearby ski resorts offer programs for all ages

2013-01-07T00:00:00Z 2013-01-07T09:25:03Z Hit the slopes: Nearby ski resorts offer programs for all agesChristine Bryant Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Family-friendly ski areas provide an opportunity for parents and children to spend time together. Yet you don’t have to gather everyone’s bags and jump on a plane headed toward Colorado or Utah to find the best slopes.

Within a two-hour drive of Northwest Indiana are several ski parks that offer programs and slopes for all ages, and help you maintain your fitness level during the winter.

Swiss Family Ski and Snowboard Area

With 11 groomed runs, night skiing on every slope and a separate beginners’ area, Swiss Family Ski and Snowboard Area has all the features of a getaway for skiers on every level.

However, the facility located in Jones, Mich. – about an hour and a half northeast of Valparaiso – emphasizes activities that allow the entire family to have fun together.

The family-owned business holds a Sunday Family Fun day each week that allows families to learn to ski or snowboard together.

“We’re in our 44th year, and we are considered a very family-friendly area,” said Jamie Stafne, marketing director for Swiss Family Ski and Snowboard Area. “We give over 10,000 lessons a season.”

Through its Valley Kids program, children can take half-day or full-day lessons in skiing or snowboarding, and then join up with their parents afterward to show off what they learned.

The goal is to give each child a fun and confident introduction to skiing or snowboarding, Stafne said.

“From our family to yours, we’re dedicated to making it a great experience,” she said.

For more information, call (269) 244-5635 or go to skiswissvalley.com.

Wilmot Mountain

Located about an hour and a half north of Chicago is Wilmot Mountain, a place where families can ski, snowboard and snow tube.

Wilmot Mountain has been family owned and operated since 1938 and offers a range of snow sports classes. One of the most popular activities for kids, however, is tubing through the 1,000-foot snow tubing area that includes 20 lanes.

“We recommend ages 4 and up for our snow tubing facility, but it is all based on parent discretion,” said Ryan Church, marketing director at Wilmot Mountain. “We also have a full service Snow Sports School for skiing and snowboarding lessons that the family can take.”

A special ski school, called the Winter Wonderland Program, works with children ages 4 through 9 to teach them skiing basics.

For more information, call (262) 862-2301 or go to wilmotmountain.com.

Timber Ridge Ski Area

If your kids are new to skiing, Timber Ridge Ski Area offers a program that allows parents to drop their children off from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with instructors, who take them out for lessons on the slopes. Lunch and hot chocolate breaks are included in the program, called Timber Wolves, and afterward, parents rejoin their kids to take on the slopes together, said Linda Rantz, accounting manager for Timber Ridge Ski Area.

“It’s a huge program,” she said. “We have a lot of repeat customers who keep coming back winter after winter.”

Rantz would know – she’s been with Timber Ridge for 32 years.

“I’ve had all my daughters in the program,” she said.

The program is geared for children ages 5 through 12, and at age 8, kids can try their hand at snowboarding as well.

Located in Gobles, Mich., the facility is less than two hours northeast of Hobart and also features a Family Learn to Ski event on Sundays for families with children 8 years and older.

“They have to be 8 because they have to be able to handle a group lesson,” Rantz said. “It’s really nice because the family can learn together.”

For more information, call 1-800-253-2928 or go to timberridgeski.com.

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