The reasons were simple enough: Take some of the fear and intimidation out of learning to ski.
Even the solution was simple enough: A building - four walls, doors, roof, windows and adjoining rooms.Simple. But, can a building make a skier's life easier?
According to Mike Goar, vice president of mountain operations at Solitude, the Moonbeam Learning Center does. It was, he continued, built and designed for that specific purpose.
Part of the concept centered around convenience. Another around time spent with each skier.
Eight years ago, Dean Roberts, director of the Solitude Ski School, took on a children's ski program called "Ski Wee." It was, in his estimation, the best program available for teaching kids to ski.
The reason, he said, was games.
"We teach ski movement through games. Kids don't understand things like weighting and angulation. They do understand a game like `Red Rover, Red Rover,' `Red Light, Green Light,' or `Follow the Leader,' that teach weighting and angulation. All of these games can teach ski movements in the way children respond.
"That's one of the things that makes our children's program so successful. Another reason is that we recruit and teach our instructors to work with children. It's just not something they do when they first come into teaching. We've got instructors that are there because they want to be," he said.
The next step in the program was to have a center for children . . . A building where all the chairs, tables and door knobs fit young skiers. A place where everything was done at their level.
It was also felt that skiers in general, and especially new skiers, needed a center that was more user friendly.
"We had it in the backs of our minds to have a building like this for a long time," said Goar. "Everything came together this summer and we built it.
"Our philosophy was to cater to the skier . . . especially the beginning skier. We know skiing can be intimidating, especially for someone just learning the sport. We wanted to take some of that fright out of the sport."
The upper West wing of the building is the "Academy for Kids." It has down-size tables and chairs and restroom facilities. It has a kitchen that serves hot lunches and a special ski area just for kids.
The Ski Wee program is for children 4 to 7. Older children, 8 to 12, have a program called the "Quad Squad."
"I think the important thing to remember here is that this is not a baby sitting operation. They come here to learn to ski and they do," added Roberts.
At the heart of this building is the front desk. It is here skiers notice the differences. It is here they plan, order and pay for whatever it is they want - ski lessons, tickets, ski rentals, even some ski attire - at one time and in one place.
Upstairs in the East wing is the ski rentals, downstairs in the East wing are the lockers and restrooms, and in the downstairs West wing is the retail shop.
Skiers enter the building at parking-lot-level. The second-level door opens onto the mountain, two lifts and ski school.
"The way everything is designed, it allows us to spend more time with the skier . . . helping to put to rest some of the fears," Goar said.
More time, for example, is spent explaining programs and fitting rental skis and boots. Ski instructors, too, spend more time helping with equipment fit and instruction introductions.
"To do this we need to be more efficient at what we do, and the building has allowed us to do just that," Goar said.
On the mountain-side of the building, and as an expansion of the children's kitchen, is a snack bar serving quick foods and hot and cold drinks.
"In the beginning we traveled around and saw a lot of learning centers at other areas. We took the best of what we found. The whole philosophy is to take the frustration and intimidation away from skiing," said Goar.
"Another thing it has done is help solidify the family ski experience. Everything can be done at one location . . . buy tickets, rent skis, sign up for lessons, get information - and all at the same time," said Goar.