By Alicia Dziak

Whether it’s hockey or soccer or dance or gymnastics, moms are a big part of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to their kids’ activities. Moms are often the ones burning the midnight oil, making sure gear is ready, kids are rested, car is packed and waiting to transport everyone at a moment’s notice. All of this is especially true for the Ranger Moms, a group of moms who dedicate much of their winter free time to getting their kids to Holiday Valley’s Rangers program, a fun-focused lessons program for kids ages 4-11.

While the kids are out developing their skills, enjoying numerous social activities and making new friends, are the moms just twiddling their thumbs? No way! Thanks to a dedicated group of women, Ranger Moms get to have fun too!

“This (Ranger Mom) program was created as a thank you to the moms,” explained Patty Elliott, who along with Mary Gibbs, Karen Armour and Donna O’Neil — all PSIA pros — host and teach the Ranger Mom activities.

“A typical day includes an unintimidating morning of skiing with the pros who are working with them on their skiing skills, which can vary for each skier,” said Elliott. “As pros we work together and/or separately, trying to get the best skiing possible out of our moms. Quite often, the moms come to us with their goals of what they want to accomplish and achieve in their skiing. We build upon the skills they have trying to incorporate their goals into our lesson plans. Quite often we find ourselves teaching efficient skiing in the conditions and situations of the day. Some days we work on steeper terrain to build confidence or we do a session on skiing the bumps, trees, ice, powder. Sometimes we work individually with a mom to expedite the learning process and advance her skiing until she feels comfortable keeping up with the rest of the group.”

While attendance varies from session to session, Elliott notes that the past few seasons have seen a core group of 7-10 women in the 2-4 sessions offered each season. “Each season we have experimented with different dates and formats,” she said.

In addition to having fun and learning on the slopes, the group eats lunch together during each session to get in some much-needed, grown-up socializing.

“We make the ski days affordable for them and include one luncheon in the cost,” Elliott said. “We package the days, but they can attend just one if they want. The key to this program has been our flexibility in what we offer. Finding the right dates and how many days we offer can be challenging. Historically, we have taken input from the ladies and tried to reasonably accommodate them. It is their special day dedicated to skiing, having fun, socializing and meeting their skiing goals. Skiing is a social sport…and the moms come away from this with long-term family friendships. Often we find they are having such a good time that they forget their pros are around, which tells us they are comfortable and enjoying what they are doing. Teaching and seeing them happy makes our jobs fun, rewarding and easy.”

For more information about Holiday Valley’s Rangers program, visit www.holidayvalley.com/explore-our-mountain.