My sons, like most kids, are all about growing up. They want to be older, taller, able to do more things and go more places independently. Once they graduated grade school, they deemed it “the worst.”
Middle school is something they’ve tolerated on the way to high school. While I want time to slow down, they want it to speed up. They don’t want to look back or go back. Except for, maybe, 5th grade.
It’s not that 5th grade was so special, or more fun, than other school years. It was because in 5th grade each boy got a Colorado Ski Country USA 5th grade pass. This meant three free days at each of 20 Colorado ski resorts. And 6th grade wasn’t too bad either, with four free days at each participating resort for only $99.
This season marks the 17th year that CSCUSA has offered these “ski-free” passes to 5th and 6th graders enrolled in Colorado schools. The program has been enormously popular and exists in a similar form in many states (and separately at many resorts) including Utah, Idaho, Vermont and New Hampshire.
While one could argue that one free ticket (out of four, in the case of our family) does not a bargain make, there’s something about having a gratis ski pass in hand that makes even the most frugal parents a bit giddy.
When our oldest son hit 5th grade, we hit the road. Before the season started, we lined out where we wanted to go and bought multi-day passes. We bought ticket four-packs and six-packs. We also got CSCUSA Gem Cards and kept our eyes open for coupons and special deals. With just a little planning, the entire family skied at a discount. Best of all, we explored resorts, both large and small, that we might not have visited otherwise.
It’s Friendly With A Friend
One of our son’s friends decided that skiing was his sport when he was in 5th grade. His parents were supportive, but with two younger children, they couldn’t get away very often. Since this boy had a 5th grade pass, we took him along on some of our ski days. I will never forget taking him to Snowmass. It was the first big mountain he’d seen, let alone skied. As we parked our car at the base, the look on his face was priceless. So was his ticket.
Later that season, we took him with us to Copper Mountain for a weekend trip. It was here that he explored his first big terrain park. Inspired, he went to Woodward at Copper for summer camp. All thanks to a 5th grade pass and a family with an empty seat in their car.
Start Off Right
If your child has never skied or snowboarded, another benefit of the Colorado 5th grade pass is the First Class lesson program. During the month of January, 5th graders who have never skied or snowboarded can take one free lesson, including free rental equipment. Usually, one beginner lesson is enough to advance a child from never-ever to advanced beginner with the confidence to go out and try skiing or riding again! There is no more economical way to a child started on snow.
Forget Tween Angst
So those are my reasons why it’s good to be a 5th grader. Forget the pre-middle school jitter, the pre-teen drama and concern over who is choosing whom for kickball. Forget the bad hair days, lockers that won’t open and pants that are suddenly too short. Just remember to pick up a 5th grade pass for your child. It won’t make him or her grow up faster (you wouldn’t want that anyway), but it will make these two years so much more fun.
It’s good to be a 5th grader. It’s also good to be their parents.
The Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade is available now through January 31, 2014. Apply online at coloradoski.com/passport. Just a few minutes online and you’ll be on your way to a winter of family fun!
For information about 5th grade programs in other states or at specific resorts, please google “5th grade ski pass” or check your state’s ski association website.
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