Whiteface's Kids Kampus
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour through Kids Kampus at Whiteface Mountain. Lauren Garfield, sales and marketing manager at Whiteface Mountain and Wendy Hickey, the snowsports reservation supervisor gave me the 411 on all the activities for kids.
When I arrived at the ski hill, the air was cool and crisp and snow had been spotted on the top of the peak that morning. All around I could hear the sounds of the ORDA crew industriously working on getting the mountain ready to entertain visitors. Bucket tractors were moving boulders, and the distinctive sounds of hammers and screw guns were mixed in with the wind blowing the last leaves off the trees and the burbling of the streams that run by the base lodge.
I’m envious of the ORDA crew because they are in the fun business. People go there expecting to have an awesome day playing in the snow.
To help with this, (I was surprised to learn) last winter Whiteface created Riglet Park, a Burton sponsored beginner snowboarder program. They have a mini-terrain park for 3-6 year olds! Lauren explained that when snowboarding exploded on the scene about 2 decades ago, it drew a younger crowd. Now those boarders are grown up and have families they bring along to play in the snow.
With skiing, parents frequently ski behind their children and have them snowplow in front, we’ve all seen that on the slopes. But, teaching someone to snowboard isn’t that easy. Hence: Riglet Park, with its rolling terrain specifically designed to allow the wee folk to test their balance.
Kids Kampus isn’t just for the 3-6 crowd who are snowboarding…. they have all kinds of services for families with youngsters.
First, there’s Bear’s Den Nursery. They serve children aged from 1-6 years old who aren’t skiing/boarding yet. It’s a great, safe place for kids to play with other kids, try their hand at arts and crafts, play with toys, read books or watch movies on TV.
Tip: They have half day rates ($79) if you only want to ski the morning - and your child has to be picked up before noon.
Second, they have two programs for children who will be skiing at Whiteface Mountain: Play-n-Ski for 4-6 year olds and the Junior Adventure Program for the 7-12 year olds.
How the programs work:
- Drop your child off in the morning, they can play for a few minutes before they are geared up to be out on the snow at 10. The 4-6 year old group are on the snow for an hour and a half while the Junior Adventure kids stay out for 2 hours.
- All the kids come in and are served lunch.
- Then at 1, the Junior Adventurers suit up and go back out for two more hours and the Plan-n-Ski kids join them from 1:30 to 3.
- Parents start picking their children up at 3 and they all have to be picked up by 4p.m.
During our conversation, Wendy and Lauren clued me in on all the measures they take to keep the kids safe during the day.
- The lodge itself is secured with specific entrances that are monitored and safety exits that don’t have any exterior handles.
- The two age groups are separated throughout the day
- Parents dropping off the 1-6 year olds are provided with a pager, “Just in case”
- A Magic Carpet is used to move the kids up the hill safely
- The chair lift only has 3 seats, so an adult can sit between two youngsters and help them off the chair
- In most instances they will have 1 instructor for every 4 children - not only safer, but awesome as far as instruction goes
- Call and reserve ahead of time and quickly pick up your tickets at the reservations/guest services desk
- Get there early (8a.m.) - the earlier you are, the faster you can get on the slopes!
- Park at Kids Kampus - they have the largest parking lot on the mountain. Once you drop your child off, you can take a shuttle over to the main hill
- If you have beginner adults in your party, or kids who aren’t in the program, you may want to base yourself out of Kids Kampus. There’s even a cafeteria there for a mid-day meet up.
Check out area hotels for Ski & Stay Packages