Sugar Bowl Resort is entering the third winter of running its signature programs for kids. The reservation-only programs are gaining in popularity due to their small class sizes.

The ski school at Sugar Bowl offers two signature programs that guarantee a three-to-one class size ratio, offering a cross between a group lesson and private lessons. Black Bear Adventures is designed for skiers or snowboarders ages 7-12. Powder Cubs, for ages 4-6, is offered for skiers only. The all-day programs, which include lessons, lunch, lift tickets, and rentals, finish in time for kids to take parents out to ski their routes mastered during lessons.

"The first year we were unsure, but the program has been strongly growing due to the three-to-one ratio," Mike Iman, director of the ski school, told us. "You can go with regular group lessons, but you're at the mercy of business levels. Reservations guarantee a small group setting in the private lesson world."

The benefit pays off for students in a better learning experience. "You get a lot more of that instructor-student relationship developing with the learning partnership blossoming much faster," he added. "We select staff that are really good with kids and get down on their hands and knees if necessary with kids."

Reservations are required for the program, which costs $175 per day. Sugar Bowl also offers a signature lesson season pass for $1,700, which saves money for those taking 10 or more days of lessons.

Sugar Bowl's ski school still offers regular group Bear Track lessons for kids at $95, but it comes with no class size cap. The price includes lesson, lift, and rentals.

Iman is instituting a different look this year for ski school classes. All participants and instructors will wear bright color-coded helmet covers with the Sugar Bowl logo and Bear Den children's center insignia. No more bibs, armbands, or bandanas. Helmets come with rentals if skiers do not have their own.

Kids in the ski school programs at Sugar Bowl also can get the new pin challenge this year. They can earn pins for five different levels of mastering skill terrain and lift networks.

More information. Or call 530-426-6700.