How the Kids Freeloader Pass Made Me a Better Co-Parent

Image: Otto Solberg

Author: Blake Marshall

Published Date: 04/16/2024

Read Time: 5 Minutes

When Snowbird announced the Kids Freeloader Pass for the 2023-2024 season, the stoke level in the Marshall household reached peak levels. If you didn’t know, Snowbird’s Kids Freeloader Pass allows you to add 1 free season pass for anyone 18 and under to your Summit or Alta-Bird Pass—no relation is required. Snowbird is the only resort in Utah to offer something like this, so it was an obvious choice for our family. I became a pseudo-salesman for this pass, convincing friends, family and coworkers to all bring their kids to The Bird

The second season passes went on sale last year, my family quickly bought 2 Adult Summit Passes and redeemed our 2 Kids Freeloader Passes, eager for our first season skiing as a family of 4. That is, until this past Thanksgiving when my wife, Maddie, and I announced we’d be splitting up. 

Kids Freeloader Pass at Snowbird- 2 kids in powder

Don’t worry. This isn’t a sad story. This is a ski story. 

When Maddie and I decided to split up, we talked a long time about co-parenting and how we would both show up for our kids. Looking back, I think the universe knew that the Kids Freeloader Pass was our ticket to a smooth(er) transition into co-parent status.  

Here’s what I mean. 

Skiing with kids can be tricky if you don’t have a system in place. In the past, when it was just us and our oldest, Penny, skiing, we could double-team and make sure everything was in place. Now we were not only adding the complexity of another child, but our home bases were split. This taught us a whole new level of communication and, oddly enough, a new level of trust that we wouldn’t have gotten another way. Gearing up for ski days turned into a fine-tuned machine of labeled totes and constant checking and rechecking lists of needed items, including alternating who would prepare the snacks on the hill and who would prepare the children. 

Kids Freeloader Pass at Snowbird- Kid and Dad on Chickadee

And while we became more buttoned up and streamlined in our preparation, we also learned to go with the flow more than ever before. We swapped out early mornings and bell-to-bell days for sunny afternoons, especially on weekends. Some days we got 15 runs each, and others we only got a handful. With all 4 of us having passes for the first time, we knew that no day was wasted—no matter what it looked like. We’ve had plenty of days with the whole crew, other days when it’s just a 1 on 1 with parent and kid, and Maddie and I even got a couple of grown-ups-only days with her sister, who we recruited early on to purchase a Summit Pass to score a Kids Freeloader Pass for her son.  

While every ski day looked different, the constant throughout was that our time on the mountain gave Maddie and me something to think and talk about besides the divorce. Conversations about mediation and custody schedules were replaced by commenting how deep the pow was, Penny skiing her first black diamond and only crying once and seeing our youngest, Violet, ski down Chickadee without any help or falls. We shared snow reports, pictures of the days when only one of us could ski and countless chats about our girls’ progression as skiers. Because we decided to jump on the Kids Freeloader Pass, we’ve been able to laugh and joke and celebrate our time as a family in the mountains. 

Kids Freeloader Pass at Snowbird- Kid and Dad skiing

The Kids Freeloader Pass was designed to help get kids psyched about being in the mountains and make it easier financially for them to do so. And it does that 1,000 times over. My kids have taken their season passes to school for show-and-tell, and they have covered every available surface at home with Snowbird stickers. For me, the Kids Freeloader Pass has allowed my family some sense of normalcy during a turbulent time. Are we the poster family for co-parenting? Definitely not. We struggle every day. But for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday, we’re just a family shredding hard and earning our chicken tendies and fries. 

Despite all the changes in our lives, this has been one of the most memorable ski seasons in my life, and we’ve already decided to run it back with the Kids Freeloader Pass for the 2024-25 season.

About the Author

Blake Marshall was born and raised in the shadow of the mighty Wasatch Mountains. When he’s not chasing his two daughters around on the slopes, he’s working to make tech advertising more human while plotting his next trip to the desert. 

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