After our third winter skiing at Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Vermont, and seeing the leaps and bounds both we and our kids make in the sport thanks to the awesome week-long lessons we’ve taken each March Break, I thought it was time to write about Smuggs’ ski camp and lessons for children and adults.
What has set Smuggs apart from every other ski resort we’ve visited to date (and there have been many, including Whiteface, Tremblant, Brimacombe, Big White, Gore, Titus, Deer Valley, Park City, Blue Mountain, Sugarbush and Stowe) is that it offers almost-all-inclusive packages with lessons.
Choosing the Summit Package when you book your vacation here means your family gets condo accommodations — check out my Falcons condo review at Smugglers’ Notch Resort or Eagles condo review at Smugglers’ Notch Resort for more info about the kind of condos at Smuggs — plus lift tickets and two-hour daily lessons for the duration of your trip. There are lots of other things included, too, like basic wifi, FunZone 2.0, tubing, hot chocolate meet-ups, the weekly carnival with spectacular fireworks.
Read more about our favourite things to do at Smugglers’ Notch in winter.
But the big bonus of that package for us is that the lessons aren’t just for the kids in your group. They’re for the grownups, too, and because they take place at the same time, you don’t need to worry about finding care for your kids while you go do your thang.
After a week of daily lessons, our ski skills skyrocket! And since the conditions at Smuggs often change from day to day, you have plenty of opportunities to learn and practise new skills. You also usually get to work with the same instructor consistently, so they’re able to monitor your progress from one day to the next and help you fine-tune things.
In our adult lessons this year, we really rocked deep-powder skiing and learned how to ski backwards and do 360s. We came away from the end of the week feeling so accomplished and looked back at how we performed on the same runs just a year earlier without nearly the same poise.
The best part of all, though, is that we’ve seen our kids’ confidence grow dramatically thanks to their ski lessons at Smugglers’ Notch.
I want to share two stories from our Smuggs winter vacation this year — one about each of my children, starting with Miss Q.
There Big B and I were, on the Sterling chairlift, ascending to the 3,612-foot summit. It’s a steep, rocky face that I tried to ski myself the year before and found extremely challenging. But there they were: a group of kids, braving the descent with their instructor leading the way. We watched as they each carefully navigated the uncertain path ahead, side-slipping and turning around jutting rocks that weren’t even disguised with snow.
“Wow, those are little kids,” I said to Big B, astonished at how well they were doing.
And then I saw it: her jacket. Her pants. Miss Q was in that fearless group! They disappeared into the trees and, I assume, skied the glades down to the bottom. (I’ve tried the glades, too. We aren’t friends yet.)
When we picked her up that afternoon, she was so excited to tell us about the best part of her day: the “bumps and trees.” She never would have conquered terrain like that with us — we simply aren’t bumps and trees kind of folk. Her instructor, Hannah, was phenomenal and Q soared under her wing.
Onto my other kid. The one who’s too nervous to try much more than greens and easy blues. The one who’s happy to stop in “pizza” even though after four seasons on the hill he’s skilled enough to manage a hockey stop. The one who’d rather stay with little kids than feel pressured to do more than what feels comfortable.
During pick-up one afternoon, about four or five days into lessons, I was waiting at the bottom of Morse Mountain looking up for The K Man. I cocked my head to the side when I saw him because he was very obviously skiing with care around some younger group members — without an instructor in sight.
When he reached the bottom, he raced over to me nearly exploding with pride.
“Mom, you’ll never believe what happened. I just saved these kids!” He went on to explain that one of his lesson-mates had an injury at the very end of class; he and a few others were already ahead of the group when it happened. The instructor told some older kids to go down and tell The K Man that she had to wait for Ski Patrol to come help and that they could wait there.
They waited for about 10 minutes and he thought, Our parents are going to be worried when we don’t arrive on time, so he asked some other older kids to let the instructor know he was going to take the group back to the base lodge.
Now…this wasn’t just a matter of continuing to ski down the trail they were on. It was a bit more complicated, because they were on another section of the mountain that doesn’t go back to the base lodge quite so easily. They had to ski down to a chair lift, head back up and then ski over to a fresh trail. The K Man got the kids on the lift and rode by himself so none of the others would have to; then he led them over to the main trail and ensured they made it down safely. My hero!
We have more examples of how ski lessons at Smuggs have helped our kids grow as both skiers and people, but we’ll save those for a hot chocolate meet-up. 😉
What ages are best for ski lessons?
Smuggs actually gets toddlers out on skis and boards from as young as two and three years old. They have their own little magic carpet and tiny slope at TREASURES day care, and it helps get them comfortable really early on.
The rest of the kids’ lessons are grouped by age:
- Discovery Dynamos, ages 3-4
- Trail Blazers, ages 5-6
- Adventure Rangers, ages 7-10
- Notch Squad, ages 11-15
- Mountain Explorers, ages 16-20
There’s also an adaptive program for kids and adults alike, called SNAP. You can read about this and all of the other programming for kids here.
Other cool stuff
The Summit Package also gives you 50% off full-day kids’ camp and a discount at TREASURES, so while you forego that included lesson, you can get a whole day to yourselves at half the regular price while your kids go off and make new friends. An awesome hot lunch is included each day, the instructors are so great with the kids and they’re split into appropriate skill levels so they have fun but are challenged enough to progress.
In fact, Smuggs guarantees anyone who takes lessons will be a better skier (or snowboarder) by the end of his or her stay!
Pro tip: Canadians get 25% off any stay & play package in any season; call 1-855-318-7103 to book (you can’t get the discount online).
Oh, and every kid who participates in lessons or camp gets a FLAIK GPS tracker, which is not only a killer safety feature but also tracks their time on the mountain, average speed and mileage. Parents get an automatic report for each kid at the end of the day:
Smuggs is a family-first kind of resort with instructors who genuinely care that the kids have fun. If you have any questions about the resort, condos or lessons, please feel free to leave a comment. Hope to see you there!
Wondering what you and your kids should wear skiing? My essential ski gear guide will help.
DISCLAIMER: Smuggs invited us to experience daily lessons and kids’ camp to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.