Talk to your kids about legal pot in Colorado

Honest, Open and Informed: How to talk to your kids about pot in the new cannabis culture

It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to in Colorado these days – or even outside of the state – the topic of pot will come up. There is a fascination with the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2014 that borders on obsession. And don’t think your kids aren’t listening.

Talk to you kids about marijuana

Talk to your kids about marijuana

Children at a very early age begin to pick up on what all the adults are talking about, especially if it’s the first question out of the mouth of your van driver on the way to Universal Orlando Resort in Florida,. My wife and I and our three boys experienced that on a recent trip, politely deflecting his questions about all those “wild-eyed stoners out in Colorado.”
The fact is, no matter how you voted on 2012’s Amendment 64 – which led to Colorado in 2014 becoming the first state in the nation to begin legal sales of recreational marijuana – very little has changed. And then again everything has changed. One pot shop employee compared it to the end of the Prohibition on alcohol in 1933. It was just four years later that the federal government first began passing laws that criminalized marijuana consumption.
Virtually since the inception of the Colorado ski industry, but especially during its boom in the 70’s and 80’s, Rocky Mountain High has had at least two meanings. Vail’s old Vistabahn bubble chairlift recently replaced by Gondola One used to be referred to, with a wink and a nod, as the “Rastabahn” for the clouds of smoke that wafted from it like the crowd at a Bob Marley concert.
Weed has been de facto legal in ski towns for decades. Police, for the most part, looked the other way, and a one-hitter or a joint was as standard a piece of ski equipment as a bota bag full of wine. It’s still illegal to smoke legally purchased pot in public, especially on U.S. Forest Service land leased from the feds by most of the state’s ski areas. Still, that skunky smell persists.
Some tourists from more conservative parts of the country are stunned at the open display of what has been taboo for most of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. And a lot of them are even more shocked to see actual stores in Eagle-Vail and Eagle openly selling pot. But what really sends some folks over the edge is how everybody is talking about it.

Open, honest and informed

Open, honest and informed

That’s where the kids come in. They hear everything. The stories on the local news. The arguments around the dinner table. The constant questions from out-of-towners fascinated by this new phenomenon. And as much as they’ll tell you they have no interest in disgusting adult habits, many kids of a certain age can’t wait to sneak their first cigarette, tentatively sip their first beer, or … eat their first edible pot product.
Unquestionably, even though marijuana has always been around and could be acquired by any truly enterprising and curious teenager for decades, it’s now much more accessible in Colorado – if for no other reason than a 21-year-old Colorado resident can go into any local pot shop and legally buy up to an ounce. Then he or she can illegally sell or share it with friends under 21.
The question for parents then, in one of the four states – Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, plus Washington, D.C. – that have voted to legalize recreational marijuana (as opposed to medical marijuana, which is legal in 23 states and D.C.) is how do I talk to my kids about pot when it’s all the rage? And how do I keep them from consuming it, breaking the law and possibly impairing their brain development before they’re 21?
That, in and of itself, is a tricky question. There are varying studies on the extent to which marijuana consumption can impair the healthy development of an adolescent brain. But no matter what your experiences tell you from your own possibly wayward youth, most at least minimally responsible parents agree that letting your kids lie around smoking pot all day in the basement is a bad idea. Just like you wouldn’t let them drink excessively, or take pills.
So the Parents Handbook set out to explore these sticky issues, and three words kept coming up no matter who we interviewed – from law enforcement to healthcare professionals to addiction counselors to marijuana retailer. They all urged parents to be honest, open and informed.

‘It’s not just about marijuana’

“Most importantly, it needs to be an open conversation,” said Deputy Megan Richards, a school resource officer with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. “Because once we start that open conversation, marijuana’s going to come up, but so are a lot of things that are great opportunities for a parent to have conversations with their kids about.”
In many ways, says Richards and other experts, the pot conversation needs to be the same one parents have with kids about other things that are illegal or inadvisable under the age of 21.
“It’s not just about marijuana,” Richards said. “It could be about prescription drugs. It could be about unprotected sex. It could be about drinking and driving. It’s about teaching our kids how to make appropriate, healthy choices for themselves when they’re given options to be destructive.”
Dena Southerlan, MSW, a certified substance abuse counselor with Rocky Mountain Counseling in Eagle, says that for children and families in Colorado it doesn’t matter that recreational marijuana is now legal for adults over the age of 21.
“Whether or not marijuana is legal for those 21 years and older, I feel that is irrelevant,” Southerlan said. “A lot of times I will use nicotine as an example. This is a legal drug, and the evidence with nicotine very clearly shows how dangerous that drug is for all individuals. It is clearly the responsibility of the parents to educate and guide their children.”
And part of that education, Southerlan says, center on just how harmful excessive marijuana consumption can be in the teen years.
“The overwhelming amount of research that has been done on the effects of marijuana on a child’s development focuses on the probability of future problems and the fact that the most commonly used gateway drug is marijuana – hands down,” Southerlan said.
She also sees pre-teen and teenaged pot smokers suffering from paranoia, anxiety, depression and general demotivation that impacts their ability to perform well in school, both academically and athletically.
Nick Brown, owner of High Country Healing and its seven retail and medical marijuana outlets in Silverthorne, Colorado Springs and Alma (near Breckenridge), agrees that parents need to be completely open to discussing the potentially harmful effects of marijuana with their kids.
“There’s a lot more money going to research to show what cannabis is doing to the health systems of human beings, and really the main finding anyone has found on the negative side is that it potentially does alter the brain growth in adolescent children,” Brown said.
However, the former Woodland Park High School standout and Princeton economics graduate adds that he’s living proof that some marijuana myths simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.
“I’ve consumed cannabis the majority of my life – I’m 32 years old – and I’ve never done a hard drug in my life,” Brown said. “It’s been the opposite of a gateway drug for me. I was actually the Colorado Football Player of the Year in high school and then I ended up playing football at Princeton for four years while consuming cannabis the whole time. I graduated in four years.”
But Brown knows everyone is different, and he acknowledges that habitual use of cannabis can inhibit the motivation of adolescents. He also knows that teenagers can and will get marijuana if they really want it.
“It’s going to be out there just like alcohol is,” Brown said. “Children are going to find one way or another to try to get it, and they’re going to get it, so trying to help them understand what happens to you when you consume it in different ways is a good idea to start talking about.”
For instance, the proliferation of edible marijuana products – many of which look just like normal cookies and candies – has been a game-changer.
“It’s really hard to ‘overdose’ on smoking pot,” Brown said. “You generally can’t smoke yourself to the point where you think you’re going to die. But if you eat too much of an edible and you don’t know what you’re doing, I’ve heard people say, ‘I thought I was going to die.’”
So information about dosages, what types of edibles are out there and how they can affect kids is critical, Brown said. “Parents obviously want to teach their children the same beliefs they have, so whether they’re pro cannabis or against cannabis, they should try to get the facts out to them.”

‘I survived it; it’s no big deal’

Many parents in their 40’s or 50’s who have been in the Vail Valley for 15 or 20 years came here to enjoy a ski-town lifestyle. Besides outdoor recreation – hard-charging on skis and mountain bikes — that lifestyle often came with some hard-charging in bars and clubs. And in addition to rivers of beer, Jaeger and tequila shots, that after-hours activity may have included marijuana or even harder drugs. Now the ski bums have grown up and have little park rats of their own.
Deputy Richards encourages complete honesty with your kids when it comes to past drug use – just don’t glorify that past by emphasizing the partying or dismissing its impacts.
“I hear that a lot from parents,” Richards said. “‘I survived it; it’s no big deal. I’m successful. I own my own business. I’m making six figures.’ Whatever their success story turned out to be, that’s great — wonderful. And I would agree that just because you dabble or experiment doesn’t mean that you become a junky. We need to be real clear about that.
“But, 80 to 90 percent of adult addictions begin in the teenage years, so why would we not encourage our kids to stay away from it?” Richards added. “Your brain and your body are growing and developing at astronomical rates. Why would you mess with that long-term?”
Family drug counselor Southerlan concurs.
“It does become an issue for some parents if they have used marijuana in the past or if they’re currently using it. It’s important for parents who have used marijuana to … look honestly at their previous drug use and ask what possible health effects they could have faced.”
Richards adds that parents need to go into retail marijuana stores and do their homework, learning the lingo, familiarizing themselves with the products and becoming educated on the potency of today’s pot.
“The THC [tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana] content in the 60’s and 70’s was anywhere from 2 to 4 percent, and it’s upwards now, commonly, of anywhere from 20 to 60 percent, and you can get almost pure THC with the dabs,” Richards said. “We have high-school-aged kids who are being consumed by those dabs right now.”
Sold legally at local retail stores, dabs are a form of hash oil made with butane and smoked through a special pipe that can deliver in excess of 90-percent THC content. One local pot shop “budtender” (yes, that’s really what they’re called) called dabs the “crack cocaine of marijuana.”
Such potency couldn’t really be found at the Dead shows of the 80’s or even the Phish shows of the 90’s. For that reason, Richards implores parents to educate themselves and then educate their kids.
“It’s wonderful if you’ve got a parent who’s able to say, ‘Yes, I used. I made really poor choices. Here are some of the pitfalls of my choices and what I had to live with,’” Richards said. “Not all parents are going to have those stories.”
Grant Troeger, retail manager at the marijuana retail store Native Roots in Eagle-Vail, encourages parents to come in and see what the buzz is all about.
“Come in here, see what it’s like, ask us questions,” Troeger said. “We’re here for people; otherwise we’d just have a vending machine. The whole point of having a staff here is to be knowledgeable and to share. That would be my advice to parents is to come in here and educate yourself and share [information] with your kids.”
To shun or ignore the stores is to embrace ignorance and invite misinformation, Troeger adds.
“The most important thing nowadays is to not deny the fact that it is legal now and it should be addressed in terms of education compared to shunning it and saying, ‘This is terrible thing,’” Troeger said. “We’ve had the police departments come in here, the fire department. We spend time with people. People want to know, and that’s our job.
“The point of having a legal store and having people like us here is to educate people so they’re not buying it on the street and getting something that they don’t know what it is. We’ve even talked about having education awareness night for parents who are concerned.”

In-home drug testing

But besides education and honest and open communication, it’s a good idea to know who your kids’ friends are and the values and rules practiced by those friends and their parents, Richards says. Finally, look for obvious and not-so-obvious signs of drug use, such as red eyes, the smell of pot smoke, money issues and a drop in performance at school.

Richards is one of about 180 certified drug-recognition experts in the state of Colorado – a designation put in place to enforce new drug driving laws but also useful in the hallways and parking lots of local schools.
A mother of four whose oldest child is 12, Richards practices and recommends random, in-home urine tests for kids when they’re old enough to start being out on their own with friends who may use drugs.
“I advocate home drug testing, not as a punishment, but as an out for kids who may otherwise have a difficult time saying no to their peers,” Richards said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to say, ‘You know, my parents drug test me occasionally, and you don’t even want to know what’s going to happen when they find me positive for THC or cocaine or whatever it may be. My dad’s going to take away my car or my mom’s going to lose her mind.’”
Urine tests can be purchased online or at Walmart or other stores, and Richards recommends random, periodic testing so kids can’t figure out the timing to beat the tests and because the tests can only determine consumption that’s metabolized in the system over time as opposed to recent use. She also suggests starting the process before you suspect there’s a problem.
“If parents choose to go that route, what I suggest is again having that open conversation,” Richards said. “A lot of parents are concerned about [testing] because they feel it violates trust. It can depending on how it’s brought into the home and how it’s used. But it’s also a great tool as an out for kids and also for parents being able to verify they’ve placed trust appropriately.”
Southerlan agrees with the in-home testing approach.
“It’s excellent because the parent in that scenario is very clear and consistent about their views on marijuana and what will and won’t be tolerated,” Southerlan said. “On the other hand, I think that you need to have the lines of communication open.”
Again, she says it’s an individual choice that may not work with all families, but that if it’s portrayed properly – as a positive rather than punitive measure – testing can keep a kid’s head in the game both academically and athletically.
“You certainly don’t want to do anything that pushes your kids away, that closes down the lines of communication,” Southerlan said. “You want them to be able to tell you the truth about what’s going on, and so [testing] is an individual choice, and each family is going to need to make the decision as to whether that’s the right choice for them.”
And that should apply to any and all steps taken to monitor, prevent and mitigate the impacts of drug use among adolescents. The one nonnegotiable factor, however, that all experts seem to agree on, is the need for honest, open dialogue with your kids.

If you would like to be become part of the discussion visit and leave your comments-we’d love to hear them.

The Ski industry looks to reinvigorate female skiers-here’s how!

DSC00579What Women Want by Katie Kukar

The ski industry looks to reinvigorate the female skier population with better gear, a family friendly mountain and innovative ski school programs.

On a particularly sunny day, after a huge snowstorm dumped 18 inches of powder on Vail Mountain, my friends from Minnesota and I are perched above Morningside run watching tiny snowflakes drifting off the evergreens and sparkling and shimmering in the breeze.

The crisp, bright blue sky awakens the color of the trees and ski apparel, and the scent of clean, fresh air is all around us. The essence of the ski experience is days like this shared with friends.

My friends are enamored with the sunshine and views, expressing their joy with repeated comments of, “This is so gorgeous; what a beautiful day!” My skiing soul agrees; it’s a memorable day. All of us have skied our whole lives, and this is why we continue to ski.

Katie SkiingThe fresh, white powder of Morningside is a smooth, unbroken blanket of fluffy goodness, and it’s taunting me. I’m anticipating light, smooth turns carving through the powder, bouncing lightly in rhythm and peace. The view will come again; it’s time for “freshies!”

I’m lucky to have friends who enjoy skiing — women letting go of their families for some “girl time.” I learned this sport from my parents, and it’s an important gift. Skiing and snowboarding aren’t just sports; they provide a complete experience from the fresh air to action, excitement and majestic views.

Our day started around 9 a.m. with secret powder stashes, and now rubber legs ensue, so we take a break at The 10th, Vail’s newest on-mountain restaurant. The 10th is perfect for my crowd in search of ambiance, cozy blankets, champagne, buffalo chili and a fireplace. The 10th has a warming room for hanging ski jackets and helmets, clean bathrooms offering sunblock and hair dryers, and comfy slippers available after freeing your feet from ski boots.

Kelly, Jen and I stretch out on overstuffed loungers around the fire, covered in soft blankets. Tired legs, warm feet, happy hearts, tasty bubbly and expressive conversation. We are lucky women for this experience and the one on the slopes.


Our conversation eases into recent statistics showing a decline in women skiing and snowboarding. Other women skiers mention having no friends and family who ski or snowboard, uncomfortable equipment, lost confidence and waning joy for the sport.

Both Kelly and Jen are mothers and suspect the amount of effort getting families prepared for skiing is a deterrent. Both women ski with their families because their husbands actively participate in the organization of family ski days and ski vacations, and this greatly increases their excitement for skiing and snowboarding.

Hauling equipment can be a deterrent for visiting mothers, but many Vail lodging properties now offer ski valet services.

“What do you like about skiing?” I ask. Jen Canton, an avid skier and frequent Vail visitor, smiles like a kid ramping up, recalling the most amazing story ever! Straightening her back, legs rooted to the floor, gently setting down her glass, she says, “It’s more fun than the gym, thrilling, aesthetic, graceful, competitive and therapeutic.” She breathes and starts again: “I love the fresh air and views from the mountain tops you just don’t get access to anywhere else. I enjoy working on my style and maintaining that smooth style in small bumps and crud. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

Kelly Vickers nods in agreement. Kelly lived in Vail for three years and taught skiing at Afton Alps, a recent Vail Resorts ski area acquisition in Minnesota. Kelly jokes, “The ski resorts should chronicle our current ski day as a marketing tool and women would flock to skiing and Vail. Fresh powder, groomed blue runs, ocean-blue sky, warm temps, sophisticated lunch spot and a spa day with shopping time.”  

VR-3-ladies.Jack-Affleck.webAs adults and mothers, Kelly and Jen love family ski trips. We also agree that a fantastic ski day with girlfriends is precious. It’s our friends and families we thank for introducing us to skiing since all of us learned as children. Skiing and snowboarding are family sports.

“The best part of family ski trips for mothers is children’s excitement about skiing. When they ski a black run for the first time, you cannot contain their enthusiasm. When they ski the whole run without falling, they are so proud!” Kelly says.

Vail local Alan Sandberg says, “The best part of my day is skiing with my daughter and her friends. They are good little skiers, like to try new terrain because they are young and fearless. I learn so much about my daughter on the chairlift, when I talk to her or listen to her talk to her friends. There are no cell phones, no iPads, no TV. We talk about the last run, what’s happening in school, about their friends, their dreams and thoughts. We bond doing something we both love, and it’s a rare opportunity. It’s valuable intel on their personality. It’s precious time.”


Kelly, Jen and I pay the bill and wander to the warming room to prepare for more fresh powder skiing. Squeezing back into my boots, groaning, since I need a new pair, Kelly perks up and says, “Amazing you even ski with those torture chambers on. Why don’t you get a new pair?”

My problem is taking time out of my ski day to shop for equipment, and duct tape is pretty these days. Other women have expressed having crappy or dated equipment as a deterrent to skiing. The right equipment makes all the difference to an enjoyable ski experience.

The good news for women is ski and snowboard manufacturers have listened and taken into account the differences between women and men skiers and snowboarders, according to Jeannie Thoren. Jeannie is a local women’s ski shop owner, originally from Minnesota and considered to be a pioneer of women’s skiing.

“There is fantastic equipment designed specifically for women’s body types. The shape and makeup of skis and snowboards make it easier and more fun. Women are not small men, a previous idea directing manufacturers. Bindings on women’s skis are mounted differently for better support and control. Proper boots are imperative; needed for good support and comfort. Heal lifts help with posture.” While talking, she eye’s my ski boots and says, “Nice duct tape; come see me.” Patting me on the shoulder, she strides into the crowd.

Companies like K2 and Burton use lighter material for their women’s skis and snowboards since women are typically lighter than men. Pushing around heavier equipment is challenging. The skis and snowboards are softer, giving the equipment flex so women can easily control and engage the equipment. The placement of bindings on skis and the size of the bindings for snowboards also changed since women have a lower center of gravity.

GETTING OUT THERESki instructoe shot

The ski day continues at the Red Lion and local ski instructor Georgia Norgren joins us for a drink. Georgia thinks, “Women’s lack of confidence in their skiing and snowboarding ability is a big deterrent for continuing with snow sports.”

Through an accident, a quick fearful incident or age, women lose their confidence. “I recommend women take a half-day lesson from one of Vail’s highly qualified female ski instructors,” she says with a proud smile. “A morning half-day lesson is a perfect refresher course making the afternoon available for practice. If they feel they need more, take another half-day lesson. Building confidence for the skier or snowboarder is part of the instruction and often the right ski run changes the confidence.”

What about equipment I ask? “Oh, for sure women need the right equipment. More than five years, it’s too old. The right equipment makes it more enjoyable!”

These are a few of the reasons why fewer women are skiing. What is the industry and Vail Resorts doing to address these issues? The snow sports Industry created the Bring a Friend Challenge, encouraging skiers and snowboarders to get friends and family to take a lesson.

Vail Resorts has created a number of new programs and products available for the 2014-15 ski season.

Skiing and snowboarding are family sports, social sports and provide opportunities to see the world and the mountains. Everyone should have a chance to look over Vail’s Back Bowls; friends and family surrounding them and jump into knee deep powder or zip down a freshly groomed run. Seeing the Rocky Mountains in every direction, covered with snow and the bright Colorado sun jazzing up every living thing and sitting by the fire with friends after a gorgeous ski day. That is skiing and snowboarding and a lifetime of experiences.



Explore Haunted Breckenridge

Gail and I.Looking for something different to do right in the hart of Breckenridge’s historic downtown? Well, we have the answer. Check out Ghostly Tales and explore the darker side of Breckenridge on a 90-minute ghost hunt.

They will entertain you with Ghostly Tales of Breckenridge’s past in the warmth of four of our popular eating and drinking establishments.  The tour will introduce you to such characters as Sylvia, the lonely widow; William Goodwin, the mangled miner; Dr. Condon, the cold blooded killer; and Miss Whitney, the lady of the evening. They will also provide ghost-hunting equipment to help you find their ghosts. Recommended for the older kids.

Not up for a haunted tour? That’s okay, they also offer a wild west experience where you can step back into time with Breckenridge’s Gold Rush History and the residents that shaped Breckenridge.  A historic walking tour that is sure to expose the more historic aspects of Breckenridge.

Check out their website at or give them a ring at (970) 485-2894.

About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Nordic Sleigh Rides Provides Fun for All Ages


With an abundance of family friendly activities in Breckenridge, your family should add Nordic Sleigh Rides to your list of things to do. Located just 9 miles from Breckenridge’s Main Street, Nordic Sleigh Rides offer a secluded experience through the White River National Forest.

A hearty dinner and theater show awaits at the end of your horse drawn winter sleigh ride to a recreated Colorado gold mining camp.  The big, beautiful and gentle draft horses will carry you through snow covered hills and winding winter trails.  Once you arrive at your destination about 25 minutes later, you will be greeted by our professional actors and live entertainment.  A mixture of fact and fiction, each show includes authentic costumes and props and draws on Breckenridge’s unique history. Once the show is over, dinner is ready.  Plates are heaped with generous portions of delicious and hearty food – just like the miners of yesteryear, only better!!

Looking for something for just mom and dad? Nordic Sleigh Rides offers a private sleigh ride perfect for a romantic getaway or to celebrate a special occasion, just for two.  What could be more romantic than cuddling under a blanket, being whisked through a winter wonderland on your one-hour private sleigh ride?

Whatever your pleasure, Nordic Sleigh Rides will provide an unforgettable memory of your vacation. If you’re looking to capture those moments, ask about their on site photographer that will be sure to dazzle you with photographs of your adventure. Check out Nordic Sleigh Rides at or give them a call at (970) 453-2005.

About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Family Travel Tips: Breckenridge, CO…And Don’t Forget the Kids


Keystone, Colorado

Parents often ask me; should we travel to a ski town with kids?  The short answer is yes. There are tons of great activities for kiddos at most ski resorts and Breckenridge has no shortage of fun for the whole family.

If you’re traveling with infants or toddlers, you may first ask yourself, how do I get all my baby gear to Breckenridge?  The answer is, you don’t.  MountainTot Gear can provide everything you need including strollers, cribs, high chairs, and toys.  They deliver all your items before you arrive and come pick it up after you leave.  So easy and convenient, don’t sacrifice the comforts of home.

Once you arrive in Breckenridge, you won’t be disappointed at the activities for the kids.  Head on over to the Mountain Top Children’s Museum and spend some time exploring their educational exhibits.  Mountain Top promotes informal learning through interactive exhibits and programs, imaginative play and engagement in active experiences for children ages 10 and under.

Looking for something more active for the entire family?  Check out TrekBreck.  They offer guided family snowshoe tours in the local area.  You can snowshoe on a secluded trail to an abandoned mine and explore the equipment used hundreds of years ago by Colorado miners.  If you can walk, you can snowshoe. This is truly an adventure the entire family can enjoy.

Maybe it’s time for some adult time away or maybe just a night out.  MountainTot Sitters can help you relax and unwind by providing in-room/home babysitting and child care at your lodging location.  Their sitters are all 21 or older, possess background checks and CPR certification and are all local to the area. You deserve some time to yourselves after a busy day with the kids. Let their sitters come to you.


MountainTot Sitters

This is just a snapshot of the activities and services available to families traveling to Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain or the surrounding area.  Breckenridge is an excellent family destination, so pack the luggage and don’t forget the kids.  Head to Breckenridge this winter and enjoy!



About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Let your kids release their creative minds in Breckenridge, CO

Ready-Paint-Fire-2Ready, Paint, Fire is a great Breckenridge destination for families looking to explore their creative side. The offer regularly scheduled events and camps or you can just drop in and see what’s happening.  Whether your medium is ceramics, canvas or glass they have something for all ages.

Paint Your Own Pottery, Canvas Painting and Mosaics are available all day every day. Glass Fusing & Slumping is offered regularly as evening workshops and at quieter times throughout the year. We have regular Evening Events for adults from 7pm ’til late. Canvas Painting Parties and Glass Fusing Workshops are a fun alternative night out in Breck. Get creative socially with friends or discover something new!”

They also have a great Keystone location in River Run that opens on December 13.  Check them out, your kids will love you for it.

About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Zip lining in and around Summit County

 zip line, flying over the train, DSC_8181

Zip Lining in Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and in the Back Country.  By Lu Snyder

Summit County, loves adventure. We’ve got skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, climbing – you name it. And now, we’ve got ziplines to add to the list, too.

Fly over water

Copper Mountain’s Alpine Rush Zip Line gives guests an opportunity to soar 300 feet across West Lake, at speeds up to 30 miles-per-hour. The dueling design of the zipline allows two guests to race each other across the lake.

Be warned: In the summer, West Lake is often busy with bumper boats, equipped with big squirt guns and you might get sprayed as you fly above them. 

The start of Copper’s zipline is conveniently located on the patio of Sugar Lips, a miniature donut shop. Stop by before your zip for crispy, warm, sweet treat to fuel your zipline adventure.

Down the mountain

With Breckenridge Resort’s new TenMile Flyer, you’ll have the chance to zip along one of the resort’s ski runs. You’ll ride the Rips Ride chairlift up and take two ziplines for a total distance of almost 1,500 feet toward the base of Breckenridge’s Peak 8. 

The first section, which extends about 400 feet, allows two people to zip next to each other. A quad span, the second length allows four people to travel side by side, so the whole family can zip together.

Set high above the town of Breckenridge, Peak 8 offers magnificent views of the town, Mt. Baldy and Guyot to the east and the Ten Mile Range above. 

In the backcountry

If there is one word to describe Top of the Rockies’ zipline experience, it’s rugged. 

Located in the quiet, remote valley between Fremont Pass and Leadville, just outside Summit County and on the west side of the Mosquito Range, the zipline spans across the company’s 2,500-acre property. From Highway 91, you can see the 100-foot tower in the meadows nearby, but not much else. That’s because the zipline, which includes five sections, travels through the forest, over the train tracks (and, if you time it right, over the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad train), over deep canyons, streams and wetlands, and past old mining claims.

Typically, guests take an old military truck to the start of the zipline, at more than 11,000-feet above sea level, though there is an option to take the train instead if you prefer. Once at base camp, you’ll have safety briefing and a test run on a safety zipline. The ziplines are not continuous, so this tour includes strolling through the forest, from one tower to another.

“All the trails are downhill,” says Judith Gilman, General Manager with White Mountain Tours, so they are fairly easy. “The views in every direction are spectacular. You can’t see any houses or condos or hotels. You’re going to see every kind of critter up there. This is a beautiful, totally unspoiled backcountry area.”

This summer, White Mountain Tours is adding a sixth section to its zipline, for a total length of more than 9,000 feet and an elevation drop of about 1,200 feet. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. The entire experience is a progression, says Gilman, and the zipline features double cables for safety and an automatic braking system to ensure a gentle landing.

“It’s great for families,” she says.

Go to or call (800) 247-7238.

Horseback riding in Beaver Creek Co.

Horse back riding in Beaver Creek

So you want to take your family horseback riding in the gorgeous and majestic mountains of Colorado.

We have some suggestions on how to make that happen for you! One of our favorite stables and one that’s close to town. Town meaning Beaver Creek, Vail, Avon and Edwards is Beaver Creek Stables.

It’s right up in Beaver creek and is perfect for a ride with top views, but it’s location is perfect, and you can do full or half day rides.

They have 1 hour, 2 hours or a Picnic ride. Also offered is the all day ride to Beaver Lake that includes deli-style lunch and fishing equipment for the lake.

Extra fun and options include Sunset Dinner Rides to Beano’s cabin on horseback or wagon.

Beaver Creek Stables offers shorter rides, giving you the opportunity for exploration Beaver Creek Village. Depending on your ride times, there are numerous lunch and dinner spots or do a little shopping and if you are feeling ambitious go for a bike ride or a hike.

Activities galore for an entire family up in the “beav” as the locals call it. Ok, swell, but let’s stick to the horseback riding.

One of the main reasons, other than the views we like Beaver Creek Stables is they have ponies for kids, 6 and under, which parents can lead around the corral as long as they want. That’s a fantastic feature not available at many stables.

Lucky for you they have a coupon for a Free Pony Ride and Free Children’s Cowboy Hat. Yes, you read correctly free ride free hat. I guess we will see you there!

For Reservations call 970-845-7770 or check them out online at

Our other local stable is Bear Cat Stables outside Edwards on the road to Cordillera.

Options galore at Bear Cat Stables! Where to start??? Ok, let’s start with Tuesday night Chuck Wagon Dinner? It’s Fine Food with Family Fun. Easy location, quietly tucked up in the mountains, character driven dining and riding facilities.

The other option available is Back Country Rides that travel through the White River national Forest. 2 Choices of 3 hour or 4 hour ride- includes lunch. This is a lifetime opportunity!

Why drive to Aspen when you can ride a horse! We are serious; you do have that option with Bearcat Stables. A true experience of the old west experience. You will be shocked by the scenery on this trek.

If you just need a taste of riding they have the stable rides throughout Cordillera’s Bearden Homestead.

Guess what??? You are in luck we have a coupon for $5 off trail rides at Bearcat Stables trail rides.

Here is the phone number to call to make reservations 970-926-1578. Make sure you mention the coupon, so you get a discount.

IF you want more information check out their website

horse back riding in Beaver Creek







Jazz for families in Vail

Jazz for families in vail

Photo by Charles Townsend

You might hear more jazz than ever this summer if the Vail Jazz Foundation has anything to say about it. Last year, Jammin’ Jazz Kids, a summer spin-off of the Jazz Goes to School program, was an instant hit at the Vail Farmers’ Market. Such a hit, as a matter of fact, it will be offered every Sunday in July. If your little jazz player wants more, check out the additional program on Mondays.

“On Mondays, we are partnering with Vail Rec offering and offering an expanded version, more in-depth,” says Robin Litt, the Vail Jazz Foundation’s Executive Director. 

She adds that the Monday classes are for kids ages 8 to 15 and will be 90 minutes in length and will be different each week, allowing kids to really get a feel for all aspects of jazz. While they will build on the Sunday classes, it’s not required to attend both.

“It gives kids a hands-on opportunity to really feel what making music is all about, they learn the basic underlying themes of jazz, rhythm and improvisation,” Litt says. 

The kids will explore Latin instruments one week, a drum circle, maybe handmade instruments – the details are being finalized but you can bet it’ll be a hour-and-a-half class with a performance at Vail Square at the end. 

The free Sunday program begins at 11 a.m. with registration at 10:45. “Kids get real hands-on with various instruments,” Litt explains. Monday programs will take place at the VRD’s Community Room in Lionshead and will start with registration at 10:15. And it’s easy listenin’ for the parents since the instruments are ‘orph’ instruments – no one can hit a bad note. Parents can drop the kids for the hour-and-a-half class, but will probably want to be back in time to hear the end-of-class performance.

Definitely not a flash in the pan, the Vail Jazz Foundation was founded almost two decades ago by Henry Stone with the Weekend Jazz Party in Vail. It grew from there and now offers a 12-week summer festival with 50,000 jazz enthusiasts, a workshop which has contributed to the jazz musicianship of nearly 200 outstanding jazz musician, a winter series of jazz concerts and a school program that has educated over 14,000 students in Eagle County through its Jazz Goes to School program.

 The Vail Jazz Foundation’s mission is to perpetuate jazz music through live performances that showcase the artistry and talent of great jazz musicians, and through jazz education, with a focus on young musicians and young audiences. 

The foundation does just that through Jazz Goes to School program, providing young musicians the chance to learn all about jazz. The organization has been inspiring fourth and fifth graders for 16 years now. Kids love it – they get to be immersed in the music with some local jazz greats. The group took the tenets of this successful and sought-after program and applied it to the free interactive program at the Farmers’ Market, Litt says. 

Inspired? Grab your hat, find your rhythm and be ready to hear the sweet sounds of jazz.

Want to learn more? Check out Monday jam sessions will cost $20 for visitors with discount for Eagle County students. Registration will take place in advance and day-of, but space is limited to 30 students. 

Family events at the Vail International Dance Festival

Vail International Dance FestivalThis is a listing of the events happening at the Vail International Dance Festival that are best for families. 

Opening Night July 27

As a preview of several short performances starring the festival’s featured artists, this is an ideal opportunity to get a glimpse of the variety of talent, including a solid dose of classic ballet with a closing performance by Pennsylvania Ballet doing George Balanchine’s Rubies.

International Evenings of Dance, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2

Here the variety of performances spans the globe with riveting classic ballet by Tiler Peck and New York City Ballet, Shantala Shivalingappa’s hypnotizing Indian Kuchipudi, a performance by famed Taiwanese dancer Fang-Yi Sheu and the jaw-dropping Memphis jookin’ of street dancer Lil Buck, almost guaranteed to have children instantly attempting to copy his liquid moves, as the man has an uncanny ability to transform his limbs into water and leap effortlessly into a series of back flips – captivating for viewers of all ages.

Dance for $20.14

Another high-energy sampler, this affordable evening brings some of the best spontaneous moments of the festival, including a taste of ballet, the theatrical performances of Philadelphia contemporary dance company BalletX and more Memphis jookin.’ 

Dance TV Aug. 9

If anyone in your family enjoys watching Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance it doesn’t get more exciting than bringing those same stars to life at Gerald Ford Amphitheater. Latin-style dance star Anna Trebunskaya, versatile ballet (plus tap, hip-hop, jazz, you name it) dancer Alex Wong, last summer’s charming and talented So You Think You Can Dance darling Amy Yakima and the show’s Season 10 winner Fik-Shun Stegall are all in the lineup. 

Around town July 27-Aug. 9

To get even closer to festival stars, Lil Buck, Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild will be among many dancing in the stree. Performances will be ongoing throughout the festival in front of Solaris. Buck has been known to wow the crowd with super human gymnastics, hand-walking and coaching of mass dance ensembles recruiting curious young spectators. There will also be a number of Village Vignettes, offering eye-level, condensed renditions of the hypnotizing stage performances.