It’s always been pretty clear that snow runs in our families blood. We’re incredibly lucky to live so close to so many mountains to enjoy a ton of outdoor activities including snowshoeing, snowboarding, skiing and more. One of our favourite places to head as a family is Cypress Mountain for basically all things snow. It’s nice and close to our house (under an hour away!) and offers something for every member of the family.
This year was a big year, A’s dad is a huge snowboarding fan and is usually gone every chance he has to go boarding. She was finally at an age that she was ready to tell him that SHE wanted to learn how to board this year too! Her dad had picked up a pass for her when he grabbed his own last year in hopes this moment would be coming. After a couple of trips up to the mountain together, when the opportunity came up to try out lessons, we were on board! Much like riding a bike and learning to swim, we knew she would respond much better to an actual teacher environment instead of him trying to teach her, and lucky for us…. it’s something Cypress Mountain offers!
Little bug was enrolled in Skooters Yellow for her lessons, Skooterville is used for both ski and snowboarding lessons for kids aged 3-6 on Cypress and has it’s own little area where the kids meet with instructors and of course – Mayor Robert of Scooterville! A has her own gear, but we realized unfortunately that it was about 1 year too big for her so we ended up utilizing the rentals during her lessons. The entire process of rentals from start to finish was relatively stress-free. There was plenty of staff on hand to help with sizing and instruction and we were in and out in less than 5 minutes!
Parents can also utilize the priority drop-off area right by the Cypress Creek Lodge, making it less stressful trying to find parking and walk up just to walk right back down again if you aren’t spending the day. We opted to just go with the pay parking for $10 that was nice and close to the main lodge and also meant we didn’t have to wake up SUPER early to get parking close by!
Once she was all geared up it was time to hit the snow! Skooterville is easy to find just outside the main lodge, near the pay parking area. Once kids have their pinnies, it was time to meet with their instructors! We ended up with “Irish Jack”, and we couldn’t have been happier. Alivia had very limited knowledge of snowboarding, but is comfortable on ice skates and extreme sledding (haha) so he had his work cut out for him with her.
The first few minutes were spent chatting about any concerns up front, we took this opportunity to explain Alivia’s asthma, as it was starting to flare up with the temperature change. Jack was very receptive to the instructions and kept her inhaler on him at all times, and even remembered to give it back to us (which is great, because I usually forget to ask for it!), we also chatted briefly about what they would be working on that day and where they would be in the snowboarding area.
The first lesson started with a big stretch in Skooterville, kids in all classes gathered together to do some stretching, silly dancing and wiggles and just getting warmed up and ready for the snow. We were quite lucky and had one on one lessons with Irish Jack, so he and Alivia immediately hit the little downhill training area to the side of Skootverville to help her get used to going down a gentle incline, stopping and being able to walk back up the hill with one foot out of her bindings – all important skills to move up the mountain!
I’d love to tell you that this part went well, but it’s HARD and kids get discouraged so quickly. Alivia truly believed she was going to strap on her board and start riding like her dad does but we all know, that’s neither a safe way to start or reality! One thing we truly appreciated with her instructor was his never ending patience. When she got discouraged, he was right down at her level talking her through it and encouraging her every step of the way. The first day of lessons was really just getting a feel for the board, but Jack told Alivia that if she worked hard she may make it up on the chair lift the next day and it really pushed her to try that much harder.
Her Dad and I hung out at the Cypress Creek Lodge during her lessons, we had a prime window seat and could see them as they moved through the lesson area and each time we caught a glimpse of her face she was smiling or laughing alongside her instructor, as a kid who really pushes herself hard to learn as quick as she can, we loved that Jack helped her slow it down and worked on strengthening the important skills before rushing ahead.
On her second day, it was time to tackle a bit of a steeper incline and they moved farther up towards the chair lift. This was to work on Alivia finding her edge and being able to stop, a big necessity if she was going to go up on the chair lift! If you’ve ever been snowboarding you know it’s quite the leg and buns work out, so the instructors are very conscious of cranky, tired kids and make sure to give plenty of breaks! They also include a small snack break in the snow for juice and crackers. There was a few times we spied them on the hill and they were just chatting, likely working through some of those big tired feelings!
I didn’t make it up to watch her third lesson, but her dad proudly reported back that she was up on the chair lift and GONE. She didn’t want to come off the mountain and even though she ended up on her bum more times than she was able to count, Jack was right there with her to help her get back up again and laugh it off. She came off the mountain tired, but exhilarated and excited to tell us that she was able to get on and off the chair lift and she wasn’t scared – she did say she was nervous, but she felt better knowing that her instructor was close by.
She was also a pro-negotiator and made sure that she got a chance to try out the magic carpet in Skooterville to go up and down and try some gentle downhill boarding. She loved that she was able to walk up with her board and didn’t trip towards the end of it like before! Turns out the practice was really paying off.
Unfortunately, the very last lesson didn’t happen for Alivia. Her asthma flared up and an evening at Children’s Hospital put a stop to the final trek up to Cypress. She was sad, but very proud of how hard she had worked to accomplish what she did. We didn’t get a chance to give Irish Jack our singing praise (so I hope he reads this!) and thank him for his endless compassion and drive to help Alivia be super proud of herself through each accomplishment.
Through the 3 lessons we did make, Alivia learned some integral safety tips including being aware of her surroundings, where to look for help and things to avoid and also learned beginning snowboarding skills including flexion and extension, balance, neutral positioning and most importantly – which direction she’s most likely to fall in, and how to fall.
If you’re considering lessons for your kids either in snowboarding or skiing, we definitely recommend the Skooters program for littles, or really any of the programs that Cypress Mountain offers through the Fall/Winter season. Lessons will run you approximately $100 per lesson ($399 before tax) including rentals and run for approximately 3.5 hours and are drop off! So you can either use that time to get in some runs yourself, relax in the Cypress Creek Lodge with a coffee and a good book or if you live nearby scoot away for a bit of shopping and come back closer to lunch time.
Admittedly, the price definitely made us squeak at first, after seeing first hand what goes into the lessons and how hands-on the instructors are, the value is definitely there. They truly have hired some of the best instructors to work with kids and like I mentioned – endless patience.
The lessons do seem to fill up quickly so we highly recommend joining the mailing list to get a notification when registration opens again, if you are looking for specific dates/times this will help make sure you get the slots that work for your family. We ended up going towards the end of the season, as you can tell by the publish date of this post, but it worked perfectly for us as the weather was beautiful each day! We’ll also be re-registering for next year at Alivia’s request, and she can’t wait!
Though the season is over for Fall/Winter, there is still plenty of things to do on Cypress through the Spring/Summer including geocaching, hiking, cycling and more – all in our very own backyard! When the snow season is back before we know it, there’s an even bigger list of things to do.. including one of our favourites – the snowshoe fondue tours (you know where you can find me….check out our other review below!)
A huge thank you to Cypress Mountain for hosting us for these lessons, as always we only share our honest opinion with our readers and definitely feel this is a great starting point for every novice snow activities lover!