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Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Camp Keystone aims to introduce the youngest skiers to the sport sans tears and tantrums.
By Samantha Berman
posted: 02/08/2012
CampKeystone
CampKeystone

Parents often worry about the ski school drop-off. Will there be pouting, crying, clinging? Puhleeeze. Send them to Camp Keystone. They won’t be able to get away from you fast enough.

Maybe it’s the mini snowmobile in the registration area, or the grooming machine a few feet away that acts as a defacto playground, with a half-dozen snowbooted groms scampering around the cockpit. Maybe the instructors stash Skittles and Gummi Bears in their pockets and apply liberally. Either way, drop-off worries will be a thing of the past.

The resort rolled out Camp Keystone this season in a huge new space at its Mountain House base area. Be warned, getting to Mountain House can be a schlep if you’re bedding down at the River Run base or any of the outlying condos, but it’s a worthy schlep. For starters, kids enrolling for three days are guaranteed the same instructor, which is, frankly, more important than most people think. For ski success, especially with very young ones, that bond between instructor and pupil can be motivating.

Second, all the learning terrain is in the same place, right out Camp Keystone’s back door. There are four progressive magic carpets on which kids start out, mastering one then moving onto the next. When ready for the lift they board the Discovery chair, which has been gliding over their heads the whole time. Seeing what’s next is a visual motivator, and takes the fear out of the unknown.

Last, kids love mascots, and Camp Keystone’s big, doofy dog, Ripperoo, fits the bill. Ripperoo takes tots for ice cream breaks, leads groups through the mountain's Adventures Zones and just generally putts around, delighting little skiers and helping them learn to love the sport. Hokey? You bet. But if your child is skiing at the end of the day, hokey is a small price to pay.

Read more about Camp Keystone here.

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