How to build strong relationships with your children

How to Build strong relationshipsHow to Build Strong Relationships with your Children

A healthy relationship between parents and children will forge a bond that revolves around trust, respect and reliability and will lead to successful interactions. When we have a positive relationship with our children, we can influence them to make good decisions rather than control their actions.

This is something that becomes increasingly more important as they get older because if children don’t feel they are understood by their parents, they might seek this from a sometimes negative peer group.

In addition, children simply behave better when they have good feelings toward their parents.  How do parents accomplish this often challenging task?

1.  Connection before correction.  Try to play at least 10 minutes per day with each child.  Play should follow the child’s lead, allow the child to choose the play activity and the pace of play.   Be mindful of how much time spent with your electronics. Often, when we are with our children, we check our email or text a friend which takes the focus off the child and may make them feel less important.

Schedule weekly time to do things together and create rituals that children can look forward to.  According to Jane Nelsen of Positive Discipline, “extensive research shows that we cannot influence children in a positive way until we create a connection with them.”

2.  Offer empathy. When your child comes home and talks about how a friend was mean, actively listen.  Express that you understand how hard things are for them. Don’t try to fix things for your child by rushing to provide solutions.

Females often complain that the men in their lives want to solve their problems instead of simply hearing them. Children want the same thing. Allow them to cry and avoid trying to move them through their sadness so they can be happy.

If a parent offers solutions when children come to them, it can cause the child to feel like their ideas may not matter and that they don’t have the ability to find their own way.  This can prevent them from returning to their parent in the future with tough feelings.

3.  Pay attention to your long-term goal.  If building a relationship with your child is a priority, ask yourself, “Will this help or harm my relationship with my child?”  This can be challenging and take self-control, but will help prevent you from saying things you regret.

For instance, calling your child “lazy” when his room is a mess can cause him to use this against himself later.  Instead, speak specifically about behaviors and tell your child to put away his blocks where they belong.  Parents have good intentions with what they say to their children but sometimes don’t think through their statements.

Thomas Gordon, who wrote Parent Effectiveness Training, developed the 12 communication roadblocks, which often begin as helping responses, but end up doing the opposite.  Some examples are name-calling, directing, advising, giving solutions, judging and reassuring.  Read Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children for the complete list and more helpful information.

4.  Use affirmative statements.  Not only does telling children specifically about their positive behaviors make them more likely to repeat these actions, it builds their self-esteem.

Give Descriptive Praise for behaviors such as persistence, kindness and patience, etc.  Say things like, “I noticed how you shared with your brother” and “I see how much time you spent on your painting.”  Praise children to other people so they can hear it.  Most importantly, tell them you love them often and be affectionate.

Relationships need consistent nurturing like beautiful flower gardens need to be continually tended.  It is never too early or too late to create a great relationship with your child.  It just takes attention and commitment.

Julia 810For more information on ways to improve relationships with your children, parent coaching, workshops and classes, contact Julia at julia@elevatedparenting.com. Like Elevated Parenting at www.facebook.com/ElevatedParenting.

Family Indoor Activities in Vail & Beaver Creek Part 4

vail libraries and activitiesLocal Vail and Eagle Valley libraries are cozy dens to escape to, with story times for babies through preschoolers, arts and crafts as well as free WiFi, ebooks and New York Times’ Best Sellers, libraries are a prefect place to send grandpa and grandchild—so you can get the fresh powder. Perfect indoor activities for when it’s blustery, your kids are cranky and need something to do.

The Town of Vail Public Library was recently renovated, making the children’s room spacious and airy. Cricket Pylman, the children’s librarian, provides an action-packed storytime with singing, dancing and crafting. Every other Monday get comfy in the community room with your kids and a movie.

Check in throughout the season for special events such as gift-making day in November, annual fireside holiday party in December and in January, school-age event celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Baby Story time, (0 to 18 months), Tuesdays at 10 a.m.

Toddler Story time, (2 to 3 years of age), Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

Preschool Story time, (4 to 5 years of age), Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m.

If you think your tot needs exercise and educating—Vail’s got the answer with  Story Time Skate. The story time is free, skating is $10 and includes the lesson and skate rental.

www.vaillibrary.com     970-479-2187

In Eagle, the kids can hit the ice and bring the books to life with WECMRD’s Skate and Story Time

www.wecmrd.org     970.328.5277

The Eagle Valley Library District offers baby, toddler and preschool story times from Avon to Gypsum. Cozy children’s rooms, sweet librarians and fun crafts will keep your kids entertained.  It’s fun to try all the libraries—each has a unique aspect and keeps the kids entertained.

www.evld.org

Avon Public Library (949-6797)

Babies (0 to 24 months.): Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and Thursdays at 10 a.m.

Toddlers (2-3 years.): Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and Thursdays at 11 a.m.

Preschoolers (3-5 yrs.): Tues., 11 am

Bilingual (0-24 mos.): Fri., 10 am

Bilingual (2-5 yrs.): Fri., 11 am

Eagle Public Library (328-8800)

Babies (0-18 mos.) Mon., 10 am & 11 a

Toddlers (18 mos.-3 yrs.) Thurs. & Fri., 10 am

Preschoolers (3-5 yrs.) Thurs. & Fri., 11 am

Spanish (18 mos.-5 yrs.) Tues. 10 am

Gypsum Public Library (524-5080)

Babies (0-18 mos.) Tues., 11 am

Toddlers (18 mos.-3 yrs.) Wed. & Thurs., 10 am

Preschoolers (3-5 yrs.) Wed. & Thurs., 11 am
Spanish

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Family Indoor Activities in Vail & Beaver Creek Part 3

Gymnastics photoVail and Beaver Creek have plenty of indoor facilities and contained within the walls are a variety of activities from skating, gymnastics and swimming that interests the whole family, especially when the weather is chilly outside.  Several facilities have exactly those activities your family needs.  WECMRD, Vail Rec Gymnastics center, Gypsum Rec Center and Avon Rec Center.

If sitting quietly is not your child’s forte, fear not. There are days’ worth of indoor, high-energy, lots of movement activities for tots to teens all day long. The Edwards Field House, part of the Western Eagle County Metro Recreational District (WECMRD), has tumble tots, Kids Night Out, rock climbing, basketball and the Anti-Gravity Center.

OK, that’s a lot to take in, but here’s a quick summary. Turbo Tots lets the littlest ones in your family try out the gymnastics facility. With a name like Anti-Gravity Center, you know it’s going to be cool. The field house boasts trampolines, a foam pit and a skateboard halfpipe. Kids Night Out is cleverly disguised as fun for the kids while you get a few hours to yourself—every Friday night from 5:30 to 8:30. Give the field house a call to get a complete rundown of the offerings:

www.wecmrd.org     970.766.5555

Vail Recreation District has a state-of-the-art gymnastics facility adjacent to Red Sandstone School. From competitive gymnastics programs to drop in classes for all ages (that includes you, Dad), the tumbler in the family has options. Younger kids, with parent in tow, can drop in for the toddler and preschool programs.

www.vailrec.com     970.479.2287

Further west, the Gypsum Recreation Center gives kids ages walking to 5 years old a chance to tumble, jump, leap, run and cartwheel throughout the week.

www.wecmrd.org      970.777.8888

Just Add Water

There’s something about a blustery cold day that sends kids scrambling for the nearest watering hole—no, not that kind! Plenty of hotels have heated pools, but for a waterworld feel, check out the Avon Rec Center’s aquatics area with a lazy river, lap pool, huge slide, smaller slides and a graduated entry pool. It’s sort of the place to be mid-morning in February. Keep in mind, there’s also a daycare room in case you want to take in one of the rec center’s many classes before swimming.

www.avon.org     970.748.4080

The Gypsum Rec Center provides hours of swimming fun, as well, with its kids’ area, adult lap swim, slides, sprayers and lazy river.

www.WECMRD.org     970.777.8888

You can skate the same ice as the Detroit Red Wings at Dobson Ice Arena, across from the Town of Vail Library. Granted, it won’t be at the same time, but still, that’s pretty cool. There’s open skate, hockey sessions and lessons year round. (vailrec.com; 970.479.2271) Eagle Pool and Ice Rink in Eagle opens the rink to public skating all winter long—the time flies as you and the kids glide along. WECMRD also has hockey clinics, learn-to-skate classes, men’s and women’s leagues in addition to Skate and Story Time in conjunction with Eagle County Library District.

www.wecmrd.org     970.328.5277

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Family Indoor Activities in Vail & Beaver Creek Part 2

family activities in vailVail and Beaver creek have indoor activities for families on cold weather days in the Rocky Mountains. Here are three ideas that shouldn’t be missed when visiting the Vail Valley or a local family who needs a fresh idea. The Bookworm, Alpine Arts Center and Imagination Station  By Heather Hower

If you’re a coffee aficionado, put The Bookworm on your radar. Every Monday morning they offer a story time for toddlers. You can sip your latte, and ease your way into the day while your little one is introduced to new authors and fun crafts.

www.bookwormofedwards.com     970.926.7323

Art Aficionados

You and the kids get to paint but don’t have to worry about making a mess at the Alpine Arts Center in Edwards. Owner Lauren Merrell combined her art degree with her teaching experience to create a community art space for kids and adults. Classes range from Art Story Time where art projects are based on a story, Mommy and Me Get Messy, Sculpture, Mixed Media, Paint Your Own Pottery.

Don’t think it’s only for kids, though. Cocktails and Canvases is tremendously popular, as is the Family Painting Day. “It’s fun to see how they all come out differently even though they are based on the same image,” says Lauren. Who knows, maybe you have another Grandma Moses in the family! It’s best to call ahead to make sure there is room in the classes.

www.alpineartscenter.org     970.926.2732

The Vail Recreation District gives blooming artists another art option in its community room located in the Lionshead Parking Structure. “On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have paint your own pottery—it’s a fun thing for grandparents and grandchildren to do together,” says Chad Young, Director of XXX. Additionally, when there’s enough staff and kids who want to explore more mess, the VRD staff pulls out art supplies for painting, crafting and making slime.Avon Rec Slide 10-12 PUAvon Rec Slide 10-12 PU

Don’t forget to check out the Imagination Station while you’re there—it encourages creative thinking and interactive play. Follow the sounds of laughter.

www.vailrec.com     970.479.2292

We feel we would be remiss if we didn’t include the usual suspects: movies (Solaris, Capitol Theater in Eagle and Riverwalk in Edwards); bowling (Bol in Vail and BackBowl in Eagle)… a day spent inside is not a wasted day in Eagle County. Options abound. Take your pick and start making memories.

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Family Indoor activities in Vail and Beaver Creek Part 1

Vail and Beaver creek have a ton of activities for families when the weather s too cold to go outside.  Here are two of the activities that you shouldn’t miss when visiting or a family who needs a fresh idea.  Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame and Walking Mountains Science Center. By Heather Hower

family indoor activities in vail and beaver creekDid you know Vail is home to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame? Tucked away inside the Vail parking structure, it’s a stroll through skiing and snowboarding history. The recently expanded and renovated space is chock full of memorabilia from ski outfits from the 1940s to vintage skinny skis and even a 7th grade woodshop project from the venerable snowboard manufacturer Tom Sims.

“One thing a little bit older kids would enjoy with grandparents is looking at the snowboard exhibit,” suggests Bessie Strickland, Operations Manager.  “You can see (Tome Sims) was an inventor and innovator in the sport.”

Bring history to life with Sandy Treat’s Fireside Chats. “It’s one of the last chances for kids to really speak with a World War II veteran,” Bessie adds. These Tenth Mountain Division veterans revolutionized skiing and started skiing down the path it is today.

Alums include Senator Bob Dole, Vail founder Pete Seibert and Nike cofounder, Bill Bowerman—to name a few. Just do it—visit the museum. Exhibits include Colorado’s Ski Timeline, 10th Mountain Division, the Snowboard Archive and National Ski Patrol plus others. Skimuseum.net; 970.476.1876

Bringing Nature Inside

Family indoor activities in Vail and Beaver CreekWalking Mountains Science Center brings the wonder of nature into a spacious hands-on exploratory center. The campus has hiking trails intertwined through its outbuildings and a creek that runs through it all.

On cold days, make an afternoon of exploring the Mountain Discovery Center. You can hang out in the beaver lodge and learn facts about mountain ecology.

Warning: your kids will test you later, so you better pay attention! Walking Mountains hosts a variety of family friendly programming, from preschool programs to astronomy to nature walks.  walkingmountains.org; 970.827.9725)

Sometimes you have to get outside to get inside…. if you find yourself atop Vail Mountain and Mother Nature is not cooperation, check out Walking Mountains’ Nature Discovery Center, a cozy yurt steps from the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Puzzles, pelts and knowledgeable naturalists will keep everyone entertained.

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Family events at the Vilar in Beaver Creek

CirqueMechanicsVilar Performing Arts Center’s winter lineup is stacked with family friendly performances including magic shows and even operas for young audiences.

An Evening at the Theater… That the Kids Will Love Too By Shauna Farnell

It’s a rare thing for a community as small as Eagle County to be equipped with a state-of-the-art entertainment venue that books the same caliber of theater, live music, dance and stand-up comedy that you’d find in a booming metropolis. Rarer still is that said venue – Beaver Creek’s Vilar Performing Arts Center – makes a point to target young audiences within its A-list lineup of cultural offerings.

“Obviously kids are a big priority at Beaver Creek overall, so we want to make sure family shows are a priority at the Vilar and that they’re sprinkled throughout the winter season,” says Vilar Performing Arts Center Marketing Manager Kate Peters. “Just because it’s family programming doesn’t mean it has to be cheesy or hokey. We get nationally renowned performers who have continuously been praised in The New York Times. People – especially those who have never been to Beaver Creek or the Vilar –have been really impressed by the level of talent.”

The Vilar’s family performances have a tendency to keep kids on the edge of their seats as well as also enchant parents into a state of rapt wonder.

Here’s what the Vilar has on tap for families for the rest of the winter

FEBRUARY

TAO: Phoenix Rising 7:30 p.m., Feb. 25: A part of Vilar’s Broadway series, the bright costumes and sheer energy of this performance is guaranteed to hypnotize audiences of all ages. Taiko drumming is an ancient Japanese art form but the TAO performers – trained over many years in the mountains of Japan – take it to a modern level with athletic dancing, powerful beating of drums and general showmanship.

MikeSuper-marchMARCH

Mike Super Magic & Illusion 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., March 27: The now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t appeal of Mike’s show goes far deeper than what will confuse and impress a 4-year-old. He didn’t win NBC’s “Phenomenon” for nothing. The show tries 10 contestants of master illusionists and viewers select the Number-1 mystifier. Mike Super was the man. Whether somehow predicting exactly what audience members will say next, prodding volunteers to jolt through the magic of a voodoo doll or making objects and images mysteriously appear and disappear, Super claims to have been fascinated with the art of illusion since he was a small child and has since become one of America’s most entertaining spellbinders.

APRIL

Andy Gross’ Mind Boggling Variety Show, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., April 2. If you’re kicking yourself for missing the Mike Super show, or caught it and now have an insatiable appetite for magic, here’s another opportunity to be dazzled. Gross’ special powers involve making the top half of his body appear to separate from the bottom half, turning flame into roses and using masks and props for masterful ventriloquism. He can make paper flowers float in thin air, make items move within a crayon drawing with a wave of his hand, cause a woman to disappear in a steel box and ultimately, generate a whole lot of incredulous faces, laughs and squeals along the way.

andygross aprilThe Vilar’s array of public performances comes to a close at the beginning of April, but the facility’s STARS (Support The Arts Reaching Students) series kicks up for local schoolchildren and there are a few tickets available for families interested in attending.

“STARS is a fantastic program for the community, introducing children to live performing arts,” says the Vilar Center’s Kim Hannold.

The series delivers a variety of hour-long entertaining and educational day-time performances by Colorado-based ensembles to children enrolled in the Eagle County School District. At 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April  7, STARS hosts Boulder-based company Imagination Makers Theater, who perform Fables Old and New. Primarily geared toward kindergarten through 3rd graders, the colorful dramatization of Aesop classics such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Lion and the Mouse enchant young audiences while teaching them moral lessons and introducing them to themes of recycling and taking care of the environment. A study guide is available at the Vilar box office before the show.

MAY

The Barber of Seville 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., May 13: The STARS series welcomes The Opera of Colorado to perform a comical rendition of Gioachino Rossini’s famous opera, sung in English. This silly story of a barber’s matchmaking schemes brings familiar tunes (“Figaro!”) and introduces older children – recommended for 4th through 8th graders – to the highly unique vocal precision and entertainment value of the opera. The performance is followed by a question and answer session between performers and children in the audience. A study guide is available at the Vilar box office before the show.

“It’s hard these days to capture a kid’s attention – you have iPads and iPods that give them everything they want. It’s a challenge for adults to tear them away sometimes,” Peters points out. “To see a kid behave, watch a show, not want to get up and be captivated by the entire performance, the parents are not only grateful but are also captured in the moment. We really believe in the strength of our Family series.”

To purchase tickets to Vilar performances, call 888.920.2787 or visit vilarpac.org. For more information on the STARS program and performances, call 970.748.6652.

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Vail and Beaver Creek Ski School Info

Tips for kids heading to Vail and Beaver Creek Ski School

VR1There are all sorts of tips to get your kids ready for ski school. Here are some that we found most useful.

Mittens: obviously kids need them. But if they are too big little air pockets form at the top and kiddo’s fingers are cold. They are too little—the kids won’t wear them. Go for the Goldilocks effect here and make sure they are just right and are waterproof.

Helmets: required. Again, make sure it fits snugly. Protect those developing noggins.

Make the morning hasslefree. We lay out all the layers the night before, from base layer to neck gaiter so we leave nothing behind. There’s been more than one day we’ve had to visit the ticket office to get a replacement pass. Now, we just leave it in the ski jacket’s pocket.

My daughter is an observer, a watcher, a thinker. She has never been one to jump right in to anything without full analyzation. Knowing this, I told her what the day would hold, what time we would get there, who she would be with and overall what she would need to know. It seemed a little bit like overkill, but it calmed her nerves. After her first day, I asked if she liked it. She said, “I didn’t like it.” My heart fell a little, until she continued, “I loved it!”

Eat a hearty breakfast. It’s can be a challenge to get up and eat, so we make egg burritos the night before and eat them on the drive to Vail. Other easy take-along snacks we always have with us are healthy bars, fruit leathers, applesauce pouches, cheese sticks. I love this recipe for healthy, inexpensive energy balls that we all devour. You can add or subtract for your preference: try cocoa powder, almond butter, different nuts.

1 cup (dry) oatmeal

2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ

1/2 cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs (optional)

1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

1 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir all ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Cover and chill for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

Most importantly, remember it’s supposed to be fun.  Read about Vail and Beaver Creek Ski School

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Ski lessons for families in Vail and Beaver Creek

Vail_Ski_School_#1 Dan_Davis (1)Find the perfect ski lesson for you, your family and the littlest skier-to-be at Vail & Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard Schools. I think we all like to think we can teach our kids to ski, but it often results in frustration, tears and maybe even a thrown pole or two. I’ll admit it: we learned the hard way.

A strong foundation makes a strong skier. And no where is it easier to get professional instruction than at our local ski and snowboard schools. Whether it’s getting a novice snowboarder proficient on the slopes or refining the intermediate skier’s skills or helping the expert perfect her form, Vail and Beaver Creek have the person for the job.

We’ve all seen them: the out-of-control skier bombing down a run, terrorizing skiers and boarders in their path. Or heard them: the slightly panicked mother yelling, “Snowplow! Snowplow!” as little Sally skier made a beeline down the mountain, nary a turn or snowplow in sight. It doesn’t have to be so scary to learn to ski.

Living and visiting here, we want our kids to love to ski and feel confident when they are old enough to head out on their own. Paying for a certified instructor is money well spent.

Make ski lessons a family affair with Private Lessons For the Whole Family. The focused attention will take the entire family’s abilities up a level. Up to six friends or family members can be in a lesson together that is tailored to individual skill levels. People can rotate in and out of the lesson.

Small classes provide personalized attention while kids get to have fun with their friends (or make new ones) in the Ultimate Four, a group of only four kids per lesson for children ages three to 15. Days are flexible and kids explore the mountain while fine-tuning their skills in a small group. Who knows? By the end of the day, they might be ripping down Pepi’s Face.

ski school for the kidsSki Girls Rock debuted two years ago, offering a lesson inspired and designed by Vail’s golden girl, World Champion and professional skier Lindsey Vonn.

Girls ages 7 to 15 learn from the best female instructors, with no more than four girls per lesson. While finding powder and working on their skills, they will gain confidence while meeting new friends, without the potential intimidation of keeping up (or slowing down for) with the boys.

Ideal for the skier who wants to ease his way into the day and still hone his (or her) ski skills: the half-day Max 3. Go out to breakfast, sip a cappuccino, read the paper… then hit the mountain. This half-day master’s program provides personalized instruction with a maximum of three skiers per instructor.

Thanks to the exclusivity of these lessons, skiers can work on fundamentals or find finesse on their way down the mountain. This program is offered daily at Mid-Vail, afternoons only, and is recommended for intermediate to advanced levels.

Snowboarding isn’t just for kids anymore. But the fear of catapulting yourself down the mountain resulting in sore muscles has probably hampered your excitement. Vail’s solutions is Learn. Turn. Ride. This three-day program gives you the learning skills to create a “slam-free” learning environment (think: no whiplash or bruised tailbone).

So you’re working with expert instructors, and are guaranteed you’ll be cruising past the beginner areas after just three days of lessons—if you’re unable, you’ll receive a fourth day of lessons gratis. The Learn.Turn.Ride lesson can be completed within a five-day period.

So you’ve spent hours on the slopes, have progressed and are feeling like you’re the next gold medalist. You can even prove it with EpicMix Academy, where ski school instructors will be able to certify the skill level of every student in their class, whether group or private lessons. Parents can track their children’s progress and, even better, the ski schools will know every student’s ability level before the start of each lesson.

No matter where you want to go, from Blue Sky Basin to Look Ma, from nervous Nelly to bump expert—Vail and Beaver Creek’s Ski and Snowboard School will help get you there in style.  Tips for kids heading to ski school

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Nordic Skiing Tips from Beaver Creek and Vail Locals

Nordic skiing with the family in Vail and Beaver Creek

Nordic skiing with your family in Beaver Creek?  If you’re searching for peace and quiet, and taking out the whole family, Nate Goldberg, Hiking Director/Product Manager Nordic Sports at Beaver Creek, suggests giving classic a try. “I have gear that goes down to five year olds, we’ve got a nice teaching area by Little Lulu, it’s great for kids and families to explore and experiment cross county skiing,” he says.

And although it is a great family activity, he doesn’t recommend children younger than five getting on cross country skis, simply because they don’t yet have the endurance, coordination or stamina…. Which of course, can lead to a mountain-sized meltdown.

Nordic skiing really allows for family time. “A family must do is to have a picnic at the overlook or yurt. It’s very accessible to get to Mamie’s Deck,” Nate says. We love downhill skiing, true, but family time is limited to riding back up the lift together… when you’re gliding on a groomed trail at the top of the world, you have time to chat with your kids. End the tour with s’mores and snow angels… and after skiing for two or three hours, a nap just might be in your future.

“Kids who are skiers love having the lighter equipment on. You challenge your balance and athleticism,” Nate says. “It’s a great alternative to (downhill) skiing; it’s a chance for families to be together. You really get to spend quality time with your family.”

The cost of Nordic equipment is much less than the outlay for downhill equipment so it’s definitely worth a try with your family.

For a different spin on the Nordic experience, check out Vail Resort’s Nordic Program. “It’s a very nontraditional Nordic program. We don’t have a set track. Everything is back country,” Joe Schmitt, Nordic Manager for Vail Resorts, says.

The resort has more than 30 locations to take skiers and snowshoers throughout Eagle County. Thinking outside the ski area’s boundaries allows the Nordic staff to teach about being fun—and safe—in the wilderness, which hopefully propels the clients to go out and enjoy it and take care of it, Joe says.

“We like to go out and have fun with families in the wilderness. We learn a skill like cross country skiing, or we just go out and play, and learn about animals and plants. Either way, it’s great. It’s their tour,” Joe emphasizes.

While they are out in the national forest, they often take families snowshoeing—which is just as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. For the more adventurous, sign up for a back country tour with telemark gear, beacons and probes to learn about avalanche safety.

“If they want to learn about avalanches, we can go in that direction too. They can book a beacon-and-shovel tour as a family, we gear it towards the slowest member of family,” Joe says. “We hide the beacons and try to find them. It’s fun for kids to play with stuff out there. The more avalanche awareness and training the better.”

There must be a reason Nordic skiing has been around for centuries—take your pick: commune with nature, show your kids a different experience or have an incredible workout—or all of the above.

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Meredith Steinke, Vail local from tiny dancer to stage starlet

Merridith 1

From Tiny Dancer to Stage Starlet  Meredith Steinke, a Vail local shares her thoughts on a performing arts journey, and the power of dreaming big.  By Lynnea Tamsen

It’s every wide-eyed, tutu-wearing little girl’s dream: to become a beautiful ballerina, and own the stage.

Meredith Steinke not only had this dream as a wee one, but is putting this dream into action 18 years later. Enter Meredith’s world: one filled with curtain calls, plies, and song; and let’s be her dance partner for the next thousand words…

Beginner’s feet…

The love affair with the stage began on a well-worn and well-loved Vail studio floor…a time when most kids her age could barely walk, and Meredith was learning to dance. Her voice lights up like a spotlight on a prima ballerina as she gushes,

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always, always loved dance and the performing arts…as a child, I’d always be putting on shows for my family, and was in ballet at a really, really young age. I soon discovered this was my true passion.”

Fueled by the love of dance and performance at such a wee age, Meredith continued to become involved in as many children’s choirs, dance classes,  and other “little kid activities” (as she lovingly dubs them) as possible. Then, as many of her young peers’  interest in stage work waned in favor of things like riding bikes with no hands, chasing boys and stretching mischievous adolescent muscles, Meredith became more laser-focused than ever on her undeniable pull toward performing arts.

Merridith 2

Leaps and Bounds…

In Middle School, she first became part of the Vail Valley Academy of Dance, where ballet, tap, and jazz comprised her world. She would remain an integral member of this Academy for the next six years, until she’d flung her graduation cap in the air alongside her Battle Mountain High School classmates.

A steadfast companion throughout some of the most trying years of a girl’s life, the Academy of Dance helped to shape Meredith’s path, and truly reinforced her dreams.  The appreciation and reflection in her voice is palpable when Meredith quietly says, “I completely love that studio…I owe them everything.”

But that’s not all the love Meredith had to give. Not even close. If rigorous involvement in such an Academy weren’t extracurricular enough for a teenager, Meredith has also been a member of the Vail Performing Arts Academy (VPPA) since she was a head-in-the-clouds seven-year-old. It was through this organization – and its three annual theatre productions – that she fully learned the art of stage presence, acting, voice projection, and performance.

“I’ve been with the Vail Performing Arts Academy for such a long time, and they have honestly been one of the main reasons why I’ve continued in this profession. They’ve taught me so much about life and in being confident in myself.”

While on the topic of teaching, when asked if there is a mentor that made the strongest impact from her time spent with either renowned Academy, Meredith doesn’t skip even half a beat when she answers, “Colin Meiring!” The Artistic Director at VPPA – who also moonlights as an instructor at the Vail Valley Academy of Dance – has been her “all-time role model” since the day Meredith crossed his path.

“He has been my inspiration, and the one who has really pushed me to follow my dream.  In High School, a lot of people were doubting me, and I lost so much hope…but Colin was the sole reason and inspiration to keep me going.”

Meredith continues with words so powerful and inspiring they warrant their own paragraph:

“…And once I truly believed in myself, it became like a self-fulfilling prophecy for me.  The more positive I was, the more positive things kept coming back to me.”

This optimistic outlook on life, and confidence in both herself and her talents launched Meredith into thinking about the future, and turning dreams to reality. Enter: College.

Dancing into the Future…Merridith 3

Today, Meredith’s whirlwind of success and ambition early on in life has taken her to the Windy City itself, where her current title is “Student at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University”. It’s here, in the heart of an arts-rich downtown, where she and 60 fellow freshmen take classes in the Performing Arts Conservatory, and work toward a degree in Musical Theatre with a concentration in Dance (did they make this degree just for her?!).

Although the adjustment from leaving her deeply-seeded Vail roots has been challenging at times – and she feels like a “tiny minnow in a huuuuuuuuge city!” versus a big fish in a small local pond – Meredith is thrilled at the opportunities before her. The next four years will help to solidify and develop her goals and dreams. Which, by the way, are very well thought-out and specific, but still grand enough to feel powerful and special.

The initial steps in Meredith’s ultimate game plan? “First, I want to jump right into the performing side of things as an actress or a dancer – maybe work on a cruise ship to gain professional performance experience, save a little money, and learn the business side of things; then move to New York City and audition there – shoot for Broadway, regional theaters, and touring companies to gain credibility and build my resume. But my full dream isn’t just to be the Broadway star…”

So, what is it?  What else?

The rest of Meredith’s dreams-into-profession blueprint goes a little something like this:

  • Take professional performing experience and bring it to Choreography (something she’s recently discovered – through planning moves for flash mobs, her High School show choir, and musicals – that she has a natural talent for)
  • Choreograph shows on Broadway, to combine her love of teaching people and performing
  • Next, move into the Directing side of things to continue stretching her wings and building credibility
  • Finally, start an organization or non-profit to spread the love of arts to children, and work with kids to help them reach their goals through the performing arts

Whewf! Yet, even after rattling off her ambitious checklist for life, a wise-beyond-her-years Meredith says, “I know my goals will change and alter themselves – and  I’m staying open to opportunities – but it’s important to have a plan.”

It seems we could all take a page out of this young adult’s book, especially when she offers one last piece of parting advice:  “I tell everyone around me that you only have one life. You need to follow your dreams, and push yourself to reach your goals and do what you love.”

Bravo, and well said, Meredith!

We can’t wait to see what 18 more years brings to this dreaming dancer.