Surviving winter is a calculation. Peel back the curtain, scratch the frost off the window, and peer out at the drab reality of two more months of this. The coffee percolates as I lean against the wall and press the remote engine starter to thaw my car. Contrast that with my buoyant son bouncing on his mini-trampoline and shooting Nerf arrows at my head. We’re four years old now, so winter means get out and play in the snow—right now.
“It’s 100km to Waterloo, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of fruit roll ups, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.” (Cue The Blues Brothers.) Revving down the highway to meet the sun in bloom, shining back down on the snow on its rise, my son tells me he learned all about how to ski from watching Peppa Pig. Well, today we’re doing it for real.
Waterloo Region in Southern Ontario is a playground. First stop: Chicopee Tube Park. Warmly bundled up, we carry our tubes to the moving walkway up the hill. Did I say, “We?” I meant “I” carry mine while pulling my son’s along with him in it. Trepidation sets in at the top. We move straight to the edge. Reclined in our tubes, I grip onto his tube for dear life. Our attendant gently hurls us like a discus, and catapults us down the slope. Our screams float above as we barrel down a lane wide enough for us to spin. We eat snow as it flies up and slaps our faces. What a rush! Back for another round, there’s hardly any line up. My son has turned pro and is positioning himself for optimal speed in the middle lane. His cherubic face, like a connect-the-dots pad, is a wide smile between two rose coloured cheeks. “Again! Again!” He cheers. Fun and easy, we get our thrills without chills on this glorious winter morning.
Following lunch and a nap, we arrive at Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort. Everything is taken care of. It’s a smooth assembly line as we’re comfortably fitted into boots, helmets and skis. Although there are private and group lessons for all ages, I’m going to teach my son myself. This is something I’ve always dreamed about. And here we go!
For me, it’s an easy jaunt, easy to be safe and controlled. For him, we’ve just scaled Kilimanjaro. “Ooh, I’m a little scared.” He admits. I maneuver his skis into parallel position with mine on either side of him and, while crouched behind him and holding him in place, we start off down the mountain. With total trust in his daddy, he is screaming with exhilaration. “Can we do it again!” He pleads. Up and down, up and down, the joy in my son’s face and heart is matched only by the pain in my back. “Ok, your turn.” I tell him.
After the fear is gone, he can now try on his own. No poles required. We’re going to learn balance, and I’m right here with him. Waddling forward like a penguin, hopping like a bunny, I know my little Podborski will be a downhill demon in no time. This is wonderful. Skiing at Chicopee is so convenient, hassle free and gently priced. And, it’s such a fun place to learn, because all the elements are available in a neighbourly, familial atmosphere with young, friendly and attentive staff on hand to help us out and inspire fun and confidence in my son. That’s what it’s all about.
By the end of the day, he’s learned how to walk, how to turn, and how, like a slow moving bullet, to ski down hill. An incredible day that deserves a rich hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream by the fire in the ski lodge. Cozy and warm, he falls asleep on my lap with a satisfied smile. Awesome father-son experience? Check! We’ll be revisiting Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort again, oh, probably tomorrow.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.