By Dorothy Gottfredson
It’s winter time! Yes, even here in sunny San Diego, where many of us seek out the snow. In fact, many Southern California families are probably looking to get their kids on skis at some point before the season ends. Snow recreation isn’t a way of life in Southern California. Even with snowy mountains a short driving distance for many families, the winter season just doesn’t last long enough. So for parents living here, I’ve compiled what I learned these past two ski seasons about ski schools.
Two Ski Resorts at Big Bear
This is our second year as parents taking our kids skiing. Two winter seasons doesn’t seem like a lot of skiing, but for SoCal families it adds up to be a lot of experience! With two seasons of skiing under our kids’ belts, I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about ski lessons. Both years we took them to Big Bear Mountain (the best known area for snow recreation in Southern California). Big Bear has two popular ski resorts, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. We have tried both!
After skiing both resorts, we found Snow Summit and Bear Mountain to be similar in many ways. The price on ski packages and options are fairly close. Their schools and private lessons are run the same way. There is also not much difference between the slope quality and skiing areas between the two. Both resorts are situated next to each other, right in the heart of Big Bear. In fact, if your vacation time allowed it, you could ski at both resorts without giving more effort to one over the other.
There are small distinctions between the two resorts. They are minimal but can make a big difference depending on what you are looking for. I personally liked the set-up for the younger kids, aged 4-7, at Bear Mountain. The kids’ area there is located in a more remote area when compared to Snow Summit. My kids are 5 and 3 years old, and for safety reasons, it was more appealing to me that they were farther away from bigger kids – and bigger people in general. There is another advantage of going to Bear Mountain. If you’re interested in your child going to ski school rather than private lessons, Bear Mountain’s ski school allows for kids as young as 3 years old. You must be at least 4 years old to attend ski school at Snow Summit. (Private lessons are available for all ages at either resort). In turn, unlike its sister resort, Snow Summit offers a family park area. This is an area designed for low to intermediate skiing, smaller bumps and jump variations, so the entire family can ski together in close proximity.
Ready To Ski
After research and finally deciding where and how our kids were going to take ski lessons, there were still many things we didn’t quite get the first year we went. Both my husband and I had very little experience as parents wanting to teach our kids how to ski. Many of our questions were answered only through trial and error.
Here are a few helpful skiing tips we’ve learned:
- Ski gear is expensive. Borrow hand-me-downs or save old ones, if possible. If you can look into a consignment store, Craigslist or garage sales beforehand – do so!
- Sunblock, gloves, goggles, helmet. Not usually a requirement for skiing, but I highly recommend these.
- There is a period of time during the winter, as well as weekends and holidays, that Big Bear considers the ‘peak season’. If you decide to ski during these days your lodging, ski packages, etc., will be at a slightly higher cost. Contact the resorts to find out when peak season occurs and book accordingly.
- To avoid the huge resort crowds, choose a weekday (NOT a weekend) to ski.
- Once you have chosen the day(s) you’re going to ski, make reservations. Ski schools and private lessons get booked quickly, especially during peak season.
- Show up at least 1 – 1.5 hours ahead of your scheduled lesson. Registering, renting ski gear, putting gear on, going to the locker rooms, using the bathroom and walking to your designated lesson spot takes A LONG TIME. It’s even more challenging when your kids are really young and you have to carry all their equipment for them.
- Your kids will most likely want to ski some more after their lessons. I recommend choosing reservations for earlier in the day. Skiing during the later half of the day can take you into the night and into colder conditions.
Have fun and stay safe! You can never be too SoCal to learn a snow sport!
About the Author
I’m a wife to a comedic husband, a stay-home mom of 2 rambunctious girls, and a college student in my 30′s. I feel lucky to be raising my kids in the same city I grew up in… San Diego! Our days as a family are often filled with many surprises. I write about it ALL at www.PowderRoomPlayground.com.
All images ©2011-2013 by Dorothy Gottfredson.