Reporting Jay Lloyd
My bucket list included spending my 50th birthday helicopter skiing in the Canadian Rockies. My wife’s included a baby. We compromised and had a baby. We also skied the Poconos while our now 27-year-old daughter was well cared for in ski lodge nurseries before she graduated to a variety of learn-to-ski programs.
So, where can new parents find child care that transitions their little ones to the slopes? Here are some options. – Jay Lloyd
BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT
This was the first ski area nursery that our daughter enjoyed. It was still Doe Mountain then, before it blossomed into the all-encompassing Bear Creek Resort. Now, the well appointed day care center serves not only the slopes, but a hotel, spa and a battery of top notch restaurants, too. Day care staff is carefully selected and the facility is centrally located inside the mountain lodge where youngsters can feel part of the skiing and riding lifestyle. It’s also close to the ski school, the next step on your child’s path to the hill. The cost of care (from 6 months to 6 years) is $8 an hour mid-week, $10 on weekends and holidays. Call for reservations: 1-866-754-2822 Ext 320 or visit the website.
Shawnee Mountain has a long history of entertaining and caring for children. It was home to the popular Shawnee Place during the summer months and an early advocate of the national SkiWee program in winter. Camp Wigwam – yes, it has a name! – is geared to turn toddlers into skiers and riders. The camp, located at the base lodge, provides lunch for children staying a full day and offers a range of fun activities. The cost for youngsters (18 months and up) is $40 a day or $5 an hour. Find out more here.
The lodge at the summit of the mountain is the spot for child care at Blue Mountain. Babysitting service is even provided free for moms who take part in the special Wednesday women’s learning programs, and the nursery takes children as young as six weeks. Since it’s opening, Blue Mountain has been a family-operated ski resort, and it’s now run by Maureen Green, the daughter of the innovative developer Ray Tuthill. The mountain has a history of developing ski programs for local schools and is ideally suited for child care. The cost of nursery care to parents not in the women’s program is $5 per hour midweek and $8 on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Check it out.
Camelback Mountain was the first in Pennsylvania to hire a director specifically to develop programs the bridged the gap between walking and skiing. The result was a full-day program that recognized that children embraced their lessons faster if they were presented as play rather than learning. Today, the nursery program is divided into two segments. The first is CamelCare, for non-skiing kids from 1 to 6 years old that focuses on indoor activities. The second is CamelCare Adventurers, for three to five year olds, a robust outdoor ski and snowboard program combined with indoor, snow-sport focused activities. It includes a lunch and ends with an hour of rest. The non-skiing nursery program costs $8 an hour or $48 a day. For prices and specifics on CamelCare Adventurers, check out the site.
LIBERTY MOUNTAIN RESORT
For weekend getaways that combine family visits to historic sites with skiing, make a bee-line for Gettysburg’s Liberty Mountain Resort. Here, non-skiing children from 6 months to 10 years are cared for in the activity-packed Playcare program. Kids can dive right into crafts, take in a movie, or enjoy a brisk walk against the wintery backdrop. With two on-site hotels, Liberty Mountain has become a magnet for skiing and snowboarding families that’s nestled in the shadow of the pivotal Gettysburg Civil War battlefield. Child care costs run $18 an hour for tots from 6 months to a year. The price drops to $15 for ages 1 to 10. Reservations are always a good idea and are required for toddlers under 1. Just call: 1-717-642-8282. Visit the website for more info.
A few tips:
Many ski resort day care centers discourage frequent parental drop-ins. They disrupt programs and can cause “separation anxiety” when the parent leaves again.
Find out if the day care center has a means of communicating with parents other than via cell phone. With your ears buried under hats and helmets and the phones buried in layers of clothing, cell phones are hard to hear and vibrations are absorbed. Some centers assign parents a number and post it in a prominent place if the parent is needed.
If diapers, wipes, etc are needed, parents are responsible for providing them.
Most importantly, the skiing lifestyle doesn’t have to be put on-hold with the arrival of a new addition to the family. Many winter resorts view the offspring as future customers and start their grooming them for the slopes at an early age.