Silver Mountain

Hudson and Hazel Hollatz ride the gondola at Silver Mountain in North Idaho. 

If you have a fifth or sixth grader who loves to ski or snowboard or one who would like to learn, you'll want to take advantage of the skiing program offered by the Idaho Ski Areas Association, a.k.a. Ski Idaho.

The Idaho Peak Season Passport lets fifth and sixth graders ski or board 18 mountains for only $18. The program allows fifth graders to ride three days for free at all 18 Gem State ski resorts and offers sixth graders two days free at 17 mountains. It is open to any child from any state or country, not just Idaho kids.

Complete the application available online at skiidaho.us/passports and pay an $18 processing fee to order a passport for your child. Ski Idaho will email you a passport you can print out prior to hitting the slopes or pull up on your smartphone when you walk up to the ticket window. Your child must have a parent or guardian present to use the passport, and it must be shown at the resort in order to receive the lift ticket.

Participating resorts include:

* Bald Mountain — skibaldmountain.com

* Bogus Basin — bogusbasin.org

* Brundage — brundage.com

* Cottonwood Butte — cottonwoodbutte.org

* Grand Targhee — grandtarghee.com

* Kelly Canyon — skikelly.com

* Lookout Pass — skilookout.com

* Lost Trail — losttrail.com

* Magic Mountain — magicmountainresort.com

* Pebble Creek — pebblecreekskiarea.com

* Pomerelle (5th grade only) — pomerelle.com

* Schweitzer — schweitzer.com

* Silver Mountain — silvermt.com

* Soldier Mountain — soldiermountain.com

* Sun Valley — sunvalley.com

* Tamarack — tamarackidaho.com

"The family friendly reputation of Idaho ski resorts is well deserved," Brundage Mountain Co. president and Idaho Ski Areas Association board chair Bob Looper said in a press release. "Our incredible, uncrowded terrain offers some of the most spectacular skiing and snowboarding on the planet regardless of your age and ability, and our Idaho Peak Season Passport makes it a lot easier for families to take advantage of our good wintertime fortune."

Participating ski hills reserve the right to limit passport use for ski racers, on race days, and on any scheduled blackout dates that may apply. Visit skiidaho.us/passport-blackout for a list of scheduled blackout dates, and check with your ski hill for full details.

Founded in 1982, the Idaho Ski Areas Association, a.k.a. Ski Idaho, is a nonprofit association representing 18 family friendly alpine ski resorts. Boasting 28,000 vertical feet of terrain spanning more than 20,000 acres, Idaho is the birthplace of lift-assisted skiing, home to America's first destination ski resort, and often considered the soul of skiing.

Ski Idaho resorts offer trails and backcountry for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and skill levels, breathtaking views, hundreds of inches of fresh powder, and short lift lines. More than half also serve up lift-accessed gravity mountain biking and other summer adventures. Visit skiidaho.us for more details.

The program targets fifth and sixth graders because a lot of them don't know how to ski or ride yet and nationwide ski resorts have found that youngsters in those grades are at an age where they can learn quickly and enjoy the sports of skiing and snowboarding.

In addition, keeping children active in winter can be challenging, plus fifth and sixth graders are at a crucial age in their development where they are choosing healthy lifestyle activities — including lifelong sports like skiing and snowboarding — over more sedentary activities.

Plus, a lot of middle schools and high schools offer after-school ski programs or have ski teams or ski clubs, so fifth and sixth grade is a great time to prepare kids for that.

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