So, your child wants to take up a winter sport. Depending on which activity he or she chooses, it can be an expensive road, especially if they stay interested for a while. Here's a rundown of four very costly winter activities for kids.
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Youth hockey is one of those sports that requires physical stamina, a tough-as-nails will and an adeptness to move and swerve on the ice while taking – or giving – a hit to your opponent. It also takes a good deal of cash to play. The equipment, which includes skates, helmets, shin guards, elbow pads, padded shorts, shoulder pads and sticks, is an expensive investment. It's also a constant cost, especially with children outgrow their equipment before it wears out. Add to that the cost of rink time, and parents are looking at a pretty penny.
There are some items that parents can purchase used like pads and shorts, but others like helmets and skates should always adhere to the safety regulations of the league or school, and of course properly fit the child. The price tag for a child to play ice hockey can easily top $1,000 or more per season. (For related reading, see The Most Expensive Kids' Sports.)
Does your child yearn to be the next Sasha Cohen or Evan Lysacek? You'd better start saving now. For every little skater who aspires to win an Olympic medal, the road to get on the big stage is steep and costly. Figure skating, unlike recreational skating at the neighborhood rink, requires coaching, ice time, specially-designed skates and tailor-made outfits (if your child is fortunate enough to compete).
The average fee for a half-hour private lesson runs between $35 and $45, not including ice time. Usually, the instructor is not an employee of the rink, so he or she is charged a percentage of the fee by the rink, either on a daily or monthly basis, depending on usage. Figure skates retail for about $100 a pair, and often need to be replaced as the child grows.
Footing the bill for a ski hobby is an expensive proposition, especially if you're venturing off in search of the finest powder. Equipment packages – skis, poles and boots – and weather-friendly apparel (thermal wear, hats, gloves and goggles) can run into the hundreds of dollars, especially for designer labels. Then there's the cost of the facility. For instance, a teen season pass at Breckenridge Resort in Colorado is $329 (with certain restrictions). Private lessons (for beginners or experienced skiers) are listed at $475 for a half-day and $699 for a full day on the slopes. Group lessons are a bit less, but are still pretty steep. For three and four-year-olds, a day's instruction is $158 per child, and slightly more for five to 13-year-olds. Parents can only hope they have a quick learner. Other resorts are a little cheaper – Sugarbush in Vermont, for instance, charges about $100 per lesson for teens who are first-timers. Its season pass is $479 for all-mountain and all-trail access.
Most likely, if your child is interested in snowmobiling, you need to be at a winter lodge or resort that caters to this activity. Then there are rental fees for the snowmobile, or sled as it is called. Fees at the Lodge at Moosehead Lake in Maine, for example, start at $135 (half day) to $220 (full day) for a single or $155 (half day) to $220 (full day) for a double sled (advised for younger children). If you're not familiar with the trails, a guided tour is suggested, so tack on another $125 to $180. And, of course, there are restrictions according to a child's age as to where a sled can be legally operated and if an adult is required to ride along. For those with some extra cash, you can purchase your own snowmobile for as much as $10,000. Don't forget helmets, gloves, boots and all the bells and whistles that are a snowmobiler's must! Also, don't forget that there are registration fees, much like that of a motor vehicle, and license fees to use the sled. (You might want to check out Top 5 Unique Winter Vacations.)
The Bottom Line
Certain winter sports for kids can set you back financially, especially if your child is interested in pursuing the activity for the long term. The best advice for parents: be prepared to keep your wallet open. (Check out The Most Economical Sports For Kids.)