Big Brothers Big Sisters
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January 4, 2010
Member since 01/4/2010 🔗
2 posts
I've recently been tasked to plan a ski trip for the Montgomery County Big Brothers Big Sisters. I've got a bit of skiing experience, but thought you guys and gals could help. Scott had told me that some of you even had experience coordinating group trips for kids. I wanted to get your overall suggestions, as well as your thoughts on some more specific points.

We're really hoping to make this a special event and an annual tradition. So we'd really like to get this started on the right foot. I'd estimate that there will be roughly 40 attendees, with half being "littles" mostly between the ages of 8 and 15. Most of them will need beginner lessons as well.

I've ordered by importance the other outstanding questions I've got. Feel free to answer any/all you feel compelled to.

1. I'd like to pick somewhere that can really deliver a memorable experience. With any sport, there seems to be a "character formative" aspect. So, for example, I learned a lot about discipline, teamwork and leadership from some of the sports I participated in. What sort of lessons have you learned, and how would you advise they be communicated during a single trip?

2. One of the things we're trying to push during this event is to strengthen the internal ties of our organization. I think it would be great to have some kind of room where we could all be together. I'm not sure which lodges would or wouldn't have this capacity.

3. We're really trying to keep our costs low. Are ski places generally pretty solid on their group pricing?

4. If anyone has experience with bus rental, any advice or pointers would be much appreciated. I think it may make sense to do a bus rental from somewhere in Montgomery County, but know nothing.

5. Within three hours of the DC area.

6. Good beginners slopes.

7. Tubing available in case people are intimidated by skiing or snowboarding.

I really do appreciate any and all help you can give. If you'd prefer to talk off-board, that's also ok.
January 4, 2010
Member since 03/1/2006 🔗
23 posts
For such a trip I would highly recommend Seven Springs in Cahmpion, PA. They accommodate tons of school trips every weekend and would be very well equipped for an event like this.

Furthermore, there is a wide variety of skiing terrain, they have a large ski school and rental shop, they have tubing, bowling, a pool and a number of other non-sking ammenities. They also have chalets for group trips which are more like dorms that you can sleep 15 to 20 people in.

From a pricing standpoint booking a chalet is your best bet to keep costs down. They can also inculde buffet dinners and breakfasts in their package as well.

PM me your e-mail address and I'll see if I can find my notes from when I recently looked in to organizing a group trip for work.

With regard to the bus, my recollection is that they seated around 52 people and it was in the $45 to $50 per person range, round trip.

I would also suggest you target superbowl weekend as bookings were down signifigantly for that weekend as compared to the ones before and after it.

Good luck.

(I have no affiliation with Seven Springs other than being a reasonably satisfied season pass holder for 7 consecutive years.)
January 4, 2010
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
The layout of the resort is going to be important as well. Look on this website under the resort profiles and maps and then ask someone to clarify if you need it.

I would recommend finding a place where tubing hill, beginner slopes, lodge where kids can go to warm up, are all in close proximity. In many places you have to take shuttles or walk a long way between these areas which is a recipe for getting kids too spread out.

Good luck.
January 5, 2010
Member since 11/17/2008 🔗
383 posts
I used to do work with BB when I was in the whitewater industry in a previous life. GRK is right---resort layout is key. Here is my two cents: Within 3 hours, there are basically a few true resorts that have the whole package.
My list is (in no order):
Hidden Valley
Seven Springs
Canaan Valley

Wisp has it all but it is spread out, and IMHO does not have good beginner terrain for first timers.

Snowshoe-may not be what you are looking for. Plenty of beginner terrain but again a big area and upper end pricing and is also a longer drive (4+ from DC).

Canaan Valley. May be a good option. Tubing is next to the ski area and the prices are reasonable for lodging at the state park (cabins) and private rentals. They also have a skating rink.

Massanutten-another decent choice, tubing is located next to the ski hill, and you also have the waterpark option. Not sure about lodging here, but one to look at.

Wintergreen-good layout in terms of beginner areas and tubing hill, but not sure about lodging meaning this will be on the more expensive end of lodging cost--but it is worth a check.

Hidden Valley. Never been there for downhill (X-C only) but it is easy to get to, and everything is centrally located.

Bryce-for beginners not a bad place to go. Small area and tubing is next to the beginner slop. Rentals should be available in surrounding private homes. Kids will get bored on a muti day trip as there are essentially only 4 runs here.

I'll let others chime in.
January 5, 2010
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
496 posts
Originally Posted By: KeithT

Hidden Valley. Never been there for downhill (X-C only) but it is easy to get to, and everything is centrally located.

Actually, the tubing area is quite a distance from the ski lodge, and would require a shuttle ride.

It also sounds like mcastner is asking about a day trip, as opposed to an overnight stay. From Montgomery Co, I think a 3hr radius would be the Snowtime Sisters, Bryce, Massanutten, Wintergreen, and maybe Blue Knob. (this is for a bus driven by a paid driver, not a car driven by a skier jonesing for first tracks.)
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 5, 2010
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,895 posts
Day trip or weekend? Big or low budget?
You'll get cheaper prices and milder weather if you wait until after President's weekend.
Timberline, WV does a lot of boy scout and church group business, staying in very inexpensive bunkhouses. Canaan Valley Lodge might also be a good place to base your group and cover your priorities quite nicely.
I love Bryce for daytrips to introduce newbies to the sport, no crowds, low prices, mellow slopes, 100 miles from DC.
God bless you for doing this, it's a beautiful thing.
January 6, 2010
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
I was thinking Bryce too...
January 6, 2010
Member since 11/17/2008 🔗
383 posts
I agree on Bryce as a good choice, but one thing that has always puzzled me is the low price claim about Bryce. Assuming my children have skied before and I am looking for a quiet place to take them on some mellow terrain---Bryce is it, but low cost ???. Looking at websites for Bryce a junior day pass is $50 and the extended day is $60. This compares to WT (the most expensive the the Snowtime resorts) at $52 for a 8 hour flex and $55 for an extended. Adults for Bryce are $57 and $67 for day and extended compared to $59 and $63 for WT. Am I missing something?? Also don't forget the apples and oranges of Bryce with fewer hours on the extended ticket,(9:00-8:45 versus 8:00 or 8:30 to 10:00 for Snowtime), less terrain, older equipment, and no flex ticket option.

But make no mistake, I have fond memories at Bryce and would highly recommend it for any family or group ski outing.
January 6, 2010
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
Keith, I was going to write the same thing. I love grass skiing at Bryce during the summer, and think Horst is a good guy. I'd like to get down there to sample his winter product, but I'm not sure why they're pricing themselves the way they are. "No crowds" is a selling point, to be sure, but I think that factor has to be multiplied against others, like terrain, vertical, cost, etc.

I missed the chance to ski Bryce on the early season pricing, so it will probably be next season before I put that back on my to-do list...

January 6, 2010
Member since 01/4/2010 🔗
2 posts
Thanks for all the comments everyone! This has already been a huge help!

We're definitely trying to keep this a day trip. Overnight stays gets a bit complicated with Big Brothers, so I'd like to just avoid that for now.
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