A Summit Value Ski pass for children ages 5 to 12 currently costs $239, and only features three mountains — Keystone Resort, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and restricted dates at Breckenridge Ski Resort. But for almost two decades, one local nonprofit has been offering an alternative for fifth- and sixth-graders looking to hit the slopes.
For 17 years, more than 200,000 families have participated in the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade Passport Programs. Every fifth-grader in the state can receive three free days of skiing or snowboarding at every one of the 20 member resorts — a total of 60 days. Sixth-graders can pay $99 for the passport, which provides four days at every resort, totaling 80 days maximum.
This year, CSCUSA is partnering with Christy Sports, a family-owned ski and snowboard retailer based in Lakewood.
Ryan Littlepage, CSCUSA pass programs manager, said the passport programs help to make winter sports more accessible for families. Last year, 18,240 passports were given out.
“It lessens the sticker shock,” he said. “It can be hard for some families to make that initial investment, or kids might not like it.”
The First Class Program also allows any fifth-grader new to the sport the opportunity to learn in January. Students who have never experienced skiing or snowboarding and are enrolled in the passport program will receive one free beginner lesson and rental package.
“Our passport programs have been a benchmark for other states to do programs like this,” Littlepage said. “It’s a great way for the ski industry to get new users in the pipelines.”
Each passport will include coupons for rental equipment for students and families. Littlepage said Christy Sports, with more focus on skiing and snowboarding, can help expand and bring new ideas to the program.
In a prepared statement, Dan Fox, Christy Sports director of Front Range operations, said his company is proud to sponsor the program.
“The Passport Program helps families explore the mountains together,” he said. “Christy Sports jumped at the chance to help kids get out on the slopes because we love sharing our lifelong passion for skiing and snowboarding, and hope to instill that passion in generations to come.”
The passport program was founded on the idea skiing should be a rite of passage for every child in Colorado, and helping young people stay physically active during the winter.
“Playing outside can be fun and this can expand to a love of the outdoors, hiking or biking in the summer too,” Littlepage said. “It builds confidence, if kids feel comfortable. There’s a lot out there to see that’s not behind a screen.”
To register kids for the Passport Programs, parents can visit www.ColoradoSki.com/Passport.