Steamboat Springs
©Steamboat/Larry Pierce

Families STEAMBOAT CHILDREN’S CAMPS, STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO. Because both age groups learn differently and have different physical abilities, there are almost no immersion ski camps combining adults and children. But Steamboat Springs has the exception, plus several other answers to this family dilemma. Three-day Billy Kidd Performance Center Camps are open to any experienced skiers, levels 6 to 8 (pure intermediate to expert). Olympic medalist and former World Champion Kidd focuses on carving and racing skills that can be applied to varied terrain and all-mountain skiing, with six hours of daily instruction, video analysis, and a take-home DVD. Camps are open to adults and their children as young as first-graders. The famously family-friendly resort also has one of the only immersion children’s camps, and Steamboat is currently ranked the No. 1 Family Resort in North America by SKI Magazine. Desperados Ski Week is a five-day immersion program just like the best adult versions, for first-graders all the way up to 15-year-olds. Groups are sorted by age and ability, getting the benefit of the same instructor and teammates for the entire week. The program includes lunch daily and a NASTAR (National Standard Race) race against the clock on a real race course. Jackalopes Ski Weeks for kids ages 5 to 6 have a similar format but more non-skiing activities (such as a treasure hunt). It is the very best introduction to the sport a youngster could have, but it’s also demanding, and the resort notes that it is “for ‘eager’ 5- and 6-year-olds who have the desire and stamina to ski five full days.” Both are offered Monday to Friday on the six busiest family weeks of the year, around Christmas, Presidents Day, and spring break. Kidd’s coed camps are offered throughout the season, and for women, another Olympic medalist, Deb Armstrong, offers Three-Day Women’s Camps for levels 5 to 8. Armstrong’s programs cover the gamut, from equipment advice to breakfast, lunch, a cocktail party, and gear gifts and is offered once each month. Kidd Camps $675, Desperados $540, Jackalopes $595, Armstrong Camps $495. Few family bonding experiences can equal that of a ski trip to Europe, and if that is your fancy, the best option is to head to Zermatt, Switzerland. Britain’s top former ski racer, Martin Bell, has developed a very loyal following here by catering his camps exclusively to 11- to 15-year-olds of most abilities, with five-day courses covering all aspects of skiing, including moguls, edging, and offpiste terrain. Around $700.
Ski Portillo
Courtesy: Ski Portillo

Summer Skiing SKI PORTILLO SPECIALTY WEEKS, CHILE. Skiing is a winter sport, but winter is a relative thing. In the dog days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the height of winter in South America, when more than 20 feet of snow buries Ski Portillo, the world’s top “summer” ski resort. Portillo is unique among destination ski resorts: There is just one grand hotel, and it is operated cruise-ship-style, with weeklong stays including meals and entertainment, plus vast terrain (800 acres, 12 lifts, and 2,664 feet of vertical), all for just 450 or so guests. This is as close as most skiers will come to a private mountain, and Portillo offers more than three distinct weeklong specialty camps each season. Summer Dream Skiing with NASTC (North American Ski Training Center) is a pure plateau breakthrough week aimed at intermediate to expert skiers. Taught by a staff that includes members of the PSIA National Demonstration Team, it focuses on technique, equipment, and fitness to help students ski “all conditions, all terrain.” Ski with the Superstars Week is equal parts immersion instruction and fantasy camp and is taught by legends Chris Davenport, a two-time World Freeskiing Champion; Chris Anthony of Beaver Creek’s Technique Weeks; Wendy Fischer, a three-time World Extreme Skiing Champion and U.S. Ski Team racer; and Ingrid Backstrom, winner of the U.S. and Canadian National Freeskiing Championships. Along with parties, gear, and instruction, the groups of strong intermediates and above are immortalized by a professional photographer and videographer. The Aspen Method Portillo Camp for Adults visits annually from Colorado and is run by founder Jon Clendenin, two-time World Freestyle Champ. Given his background, it has an emphasis on mogul skiing, but this translates to the entire mountain. Clendenin’s “method” is great for baby boomers and mature skiers who want the fundamental techniques that will give them optimum control in bumps, groomed, and off-piste terrain. Each camp is offered once per season, in August or September. Approximately $4,000 to $5,000 per person, all inclusive.