Fact: Kids don't spend as much time playing and learning outdoors as they used to. In the modern era, there are a myriad of reasons for it, from safety concerns to omnipresent screens, busy parents, and city life. Even in Park City with adventure beckoning at our doorstep, outdoor time for children is still lacking for many. But the benefits reaped from spending time in nature, especially in their formative years, is irrefutable. Being outdoors helps kids build confidence, promotes creativity, provides stimulation, gets them moving, and reduces stress and fatigue, among many other benefits. In short, you get happy, healthier individuals for life. With that said, here are a few local programs that are working hard to help parents introduce their children to sports and the outdoors.
Epic School Kids
Open to Utah children enrolled in kindergarten through 5th grade, Epic School Kids provides five free days of skiing or snowboarding at Park City Mountain. Never been on the snow? No worries. Included in the program is one free first-timer ski or snowboard lesson with rental equipment (snowboard lessons are only available to kids ages 7+). The program is an excellent way for Utah families to give young children a taste of the winter sports scene. Registration for the program typically opens in the spring when season passes for next year go on sale and the deadline (October 7) for the 2018-2019 is quickly approaching. Blackout dates apply. For more information and to sign up, visit the the Epic Pass website.
Ski Utah 5th & 6th Grade Passports
Another fantastic deal for families with kids in the 5th and 6th grade are the Ski Utah 5th and 6th Grade Passports. Both priced at $45, the passports allow 5th grades three days on the mountain (42 days total) and 6th graders one day on the mountain (14 days total) at each of Utah's fourteen resorts. The passport also includes discounts to several rental shops. Best of all, the passports are open to all 5th and 6th graders, regardless of the state they live in. While every resort doesn't require an adult to accompany their kids on the mountain, parents are encouraged to get on the mountain with their children. Your best bet if you're looking for a deal to go with the passport, is the Yeti Pass ($649) which allows you one day at each Utah resort. For more information, visit Ski Utah's website.
Youth Sports Alliance - Get Out & Play
Charged with increasing the number of kids participating in winter sport programs in Summit and Wasatch counties after the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Youth Sports Alliance now supports seven competitive winter sports teams and several after school programs for Park City students. Focused on elementary school children (1st-5th grade), Get Out & Play provides opportunities to try a myriad of athletic endeavors at the beginner and intermediate levels, from downhill skiing and snowboarding to speed skating, bouldering, and beyond. Program fees include instruction, transportation from schools to participating venues (except for mountain biking and bouldering) and lift tickets where applicable. Scholarships are available for every program, for participants who receive free and reduced lunch at school or demonstrate significant financial need. Registration for snow and ice programs are open and you can sign your kids up here.
Grab you kids and get out there and play!