Call us biased, but there is no better way to spend a day with your family than on the mountain.
Sharing the sport you love with your loved ones is the ultimate experience, but it can be daunting at first. All the gear, the weather, the travel with little ones in tow… is teaching kids to snowboard worth it? According to the parents among us, yes. We asked the moms and dads of Burton for their tips on getting out there with the whole family, so that it's fun for everyone. With the right mindset and strategy, it can be the most rewarding thing you do this season.
Get the Right Tools
Jeff Boliba –Vice President of Global Resorts
The love of snowboarding can begin in the house, thanks to some of the learning products and tools we have created. Each one of my three kids were brought home to a board underneath the crib. When they are able to play with snowboarding in the house, you are able to take away the potential of nasty weather that can turn kids off.
- Burton Riglet Snowboard:
They can use the board as a toy to pull around their stuffed animals or siblings. Naturally, they are going to want to start riding on it themselves. The Hover Cover works great on hardwood floors, and you can take it off to use it on carpet or in the backyard. This learning video was filmed for use with our school PE program, but I think kids at home could have a lot of fun with it as well.
- Handle Bar:
This is a great way for kids to try snowboarding without having to put on boots or strap bindings on. The handle allows them to easily step on and practice standing sideways in the front yard, backyard, or sledding hill.
- Beginner Set Up:
Once your child has a real board, boot, and bindings set up, you can attach the Riglet Reel to the front of it and pull them around outside on snow. Just pulling kids around will help learn to balance and make movements on their snowboard will translate to the mountain.
- Rider's Bag:
Having a specific bag for your child to keep all of their snowboarding gear in is key. You can then teach them to dry their gear out after riding, and then place everything back in the bag. That way, everything is in one place and you don’t have to waste time and stress gathering everything up before heading to the mountain.
Some programs (like the Burton Snowboard Academy at Northstar) have a Riglet Park and terrain-based features provide an amazing way for kids to learn. They also have trained snowboard-specific coaches. Certified kids’ coaches are fun and know how to work with kids. Find a Riglet Park near you.
The most important thing is to keep it fun. Make snowmen, give them hot chocolate, high fives, candy, let them play, and get some friends involved. Don’t ever push snowboarding on them, let it be guided discovery and they will love it for life.
"Snowboarding and the mountain always = fun, no matter what."
Fun, No Matter What
David Pfluger – Senior Director of Global Brand Creative Marketing
Start inside. My wife Molly and I have always shared our love for snowboarding, so when raising our daughter, it was a no-brainer that we’d get her on a board as soon as she could stand. The Riglet board allowed her to get a feel for it inside. It was so much fun to watch.
It’s all about fun. That winter, we got her out on the magic carpet. We just said going to the mountain = fun. No matter what. So that meant every weekend we’d load up the gear, make the drive, get her suited up, strapped in, and sometimes ... immediately un-strap to head to the lodge for hot chocolate. Regardless, it was always just about having a good time and getting the family on the mountain, even if nobody took a run. We never pressured it. That was year one.
Stay motivated. Last year, when she turned three, it clicked about a month or so into the season. It went from “let’s try 1 run on the magic carpet,” to a few more, and a few more. Molly always had a good stash of snacks tucked into her backpack, so there was a bit of a reward system going on. We still spent a ton of time in the lodge, but slowly we’re starting to head back out on snow, too. It’s all about just making a day out of it, with no expectations. By the time last season ended, Hudson was going up the chairlifts for the beginner terrain.
Such a cool thing to see – progression.
Let Them Lead the Way
Lindsey O’Brien – Partnerships and Quality Coordinator – Chill Foundation
Hand warmers, sometimes two per mitten: That’s the biggest thing that kept them out for a long time when they were really little.
Do laps on the lift that goes over the park. To see the awesome stuff people could do on a board — that really stuck with them.
Have them carry their own board. It may not seem like a tactic to keep them out there, but it really helped them to feel super independent and, hey, it makes a parent’s life easier.
Let the kiddos pick the trails. Even it means the same tree trail every. Single. Run. I can’t tell you how many times I have followed my little guy down Broken Arrow at Okemo.
And you know what? Kids are kids. We definitely had a couple times where everything was a total fail, but we got back out there next time. That’s what life is about.
Think Outside the Box
Jeff King – Senior Textile Production Artist
One plank for all. As more and more riders get older and have kids, it’s so hard to hear they start their kids out on skis because it’s easier. My kids have never put skis on and have a great time on the mountain. I have two boys, ages two and six, who love to ride.
Be creative. There’s more than one way to get down the mountain with your kid. When my older son was learning, he wouldn’t always want to go down on his own. Whenever that happened, I would put his board on my back and put him between my legs and we would ride down together. Sometimes I would just pick him up and hold him the whole way down. He’s also goofy, like me, so I could hold his hands with him in front of me and ride like that. Even when they’re too tired to go down on their own, there are ways to keep them engaged and enjoying themselves on the hill.
"We definitely had a couple times where everything was a total fail, but we got back out there next time. That’s what life is about."
Set the Right Conditions
Michael Gardzina – Senior Manager of Brand Content
Go as often as you can, but do not get disappointed if the day ends after one ride on the magic carpet.
Try to avoid super cold and icy days. When it is fresh snow or slush, the kids learned so much faster and a fall wasn’t a day-ender.
Don’t push them. We wanted our kids to love the mountain. The best days are when your kids are having so much fun riding they don't want to leave. Switching off duties so each parent can take a lap is a great way to keep it fun for the adults.
Get the right gear. Pulling your kids around on a Riglet board is a good was for the kids to get there balance and feel the board flex under their feet. When they get a bit older, the Burton Kids’ snowboards have proper flex and are so advanced that both my kids were able to link turns. Properly sized boots and bindings also helped my kids to ride and connect turns around three years old.