This Article was prepared by LuAnn Snyder, Baltimore Ski Club
Lots of people pay an annual membership fee to belong to a wholesale chain warehouse club (like Costco) so they can get discounted prices on merchandise. Many belong to AAA for travel discounts and roadside assistance. These are valuable benefits, for sure.
However, AAA and warehouse club memberships cannot offer opportunities to create friendships with passionate and energetic like-minded folks, regardless of age, who share a common bond. In this case, we are talking about the love for skiing or snowboarding. It stretches across the U.S. and beyond. The National Ski Council Federation web site provides a list of clubs throughout the U.S. such as the Baltimore Ski Club (BSC) and the Ski Club of Washington, DC (SCWDC).
Meeting other snow sports enthusiasts and forming friendships is a major incentive for joining a ski club, especially for those living in urban areas that are not that close to major resorts. Clubs typically meet once or twice a month from September to March or April to socialize, eat, drink and listen to informative guest speakers on topics of interest – from manufacturer reps, ski shops, instructors and others. Membership dues vary but typically range from $35 for individuals and $50-55 for families.
Clubs aren’t active just during winter months. Many offer international “off-season” trips as well as warmer weather activities such as bike rides, hikes, volleyball, baseball games, pool parties, wine tastings picnics, golfing, and sailing. Many, like the Ski Club of Washington, DC, lead up to the season with special presentations like the latest Warren Miller movie.
And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg because there are plenty of other incentives for joining.
Convenience and Discounts: Clubs, especially those located in larger population centers, do all of the trip planning from flight arrangements, ground transfers, lodging, and lift tickets through assigned trip leaders. Some trips include group meals. If you want to become a trip leader yourself, chances are your excursion is paid for depending on the size of the group.
In general, group buying power can command low airfares, savings on lift tickets and lodging (sometimes prime ski-in/out or slope side lodging) to incredible destinations with savings that you may not be able to get on your own or that require spending substantial planning time.
Trip leaders often host a pre-trip and on-site welcome parties so that it is easy to meet and mingle with others and also to share information about special trip events like a lunch gathering spot or an apres-ski/snowboard get-together.
Trip size can range between 20-50 singles and couples. Ability levels range from beginners to advanced, with most skiers/snowboarders falling into the intermediate to advanced intermediate category. Non-skiers can also find value, particularly on European trips or domestic excursions where sightseeing opportunities sometimes compete with skiing and snowboarding.
Membership has additional advantages. Most allow members to pay installments for a trip after an initial deposit. Some clubs have partnerships with local ski and snowboards retail shops that offer discounts and they participate in swaps that enable newcomers and current participants a chance to save money on previously-owned products.
The Baltimore Ski Club (BSC) offers members rebate reimbursements on lessons, new helmets and recreational races if they participate on a BSC-sponsored trip. Like others, the Baltimore club gives back by raising money for charitable causes. The club provided a $1,200 check to the Maryland School for the Blind by raising money at its annual Winter Expo via a 50-50 raffle, silent auction and Chance auction. It shares its information on social media.
Since clubs typically belong to regional ski councils, resorts bid on the opportunity to host a “Council Ski Week or Carnival” which make trips to premier destinations more accessible and cost efficient.
Note that, in some parts of the country, a club refers to a group of members who have shares in a lodge near a ski/snowboard area. For many, joining a club is a great way to expand social circles, make lifelong friends and even find a spouse! There are plenty of reasons to join a club!