starting a ski club at school next year - suggestions

aaron12345

New member
So my school has these club periods twice a week called 8th period at the end of the day. Attendance is mandatory but its fun and easy to skip but most people go... you get the idea. Anyways I got the go ahead to start a ski and snowboard club next year. The deal is we can talk about skiing and snowboarding, and plan trips however the actual trips can have no affiliation with my school because of liability. We're about 1 hr from ski liberty - the closest (I know it's shitty) resort. I was thinkin trying to do bi-weekly midweek night skiing trips because they'd be nice and cheap, and then maybe one or two weekend trips. For the weekday (wednesday) night skiing, we probably could leave by 2:30. Do you think that would leave us enough time to ski and we'd be able to get back at a resonable time, 10:30 at latest? Also, bus vs. driving. I'm going to be a junior next year and have my license, so probably about half of use would be able to drive but I'm not sure how iffy parents would be about letting their underclassman ride with an upperclassman on a 2 hours night time trip. It would me much less expensive, but if I can get 20-30 people a bus seems like it could work also. The other thing is, I am committed to atleast 2 weekends a month + winter break at Wintergreen because I volunteer as part of their adaptive ski program, so balancing the weekend school trips with my predefined ski trips will be hard. Do you think snowshoe is do-able in a 2 day weekend, or would we need a 3 days weekend. Or would it be better to do it on a 2 day weekend because of crowds? Our school is in Alexandria - but it's a magnet school so we come from all around fairfax, loudoun, prince william county, falls church (I'm in falls church) for anyone that knows the area (anyone that doesn't, DC Metro Area) that means some kids have 2 hour commutes each way. That's another problem with a bus, some kids would have to double back an hour with a bus bringing us all back to hour school at night vs. the kids getting rides from people that live near them. Anyways any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated, as I got the approval at the end of the school year last year and want to have things ready to go as soon as school starts because any biggish trips we need to plan fast.
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
I actually ran the ski club back in high school in SE Connecticut (St. Bernard H.S. in Uncasville). It was the largest club organization in the school. We were fortunate in that we had the blessing and support of the school more than you do, at least until Rosemary caused a little scene at the Montpelier Tavern Inn in Vermont that seemingly brought out every cop and firefighter in the state by forcing the evacuation of the entire hotel on a cold January night :shock: , but I'll throw my $0.02 in here anyway.

We used to run two weekend bus trips per year, usually to Northern Vermont destinations (I had my biases even back then! :lol: ). We were about 3 hours from Mt. Snow, and about 6 hours from Jay, to give you a sense of the distances involved. The weekend trips were generally comprised of two buses of kids and chaperones per trip (buses generally carry 43, or at least the ones back then did). We'd also make a half dozen or so daytrips per season with a teacher driving the school van. Those were some of the best trips of the bunch -- the comraderie in the van was a blast! Or, at least it was after we passed a by-law banning consumption of chili at lunch. :wink:

Just like planning your own trips, planning group trips comes in two flavors: doing it yourself, or using a tour operator. The former gives you more flexibility in your itinerary and in negotiating prices, but also requires a lot more work -- you have to deal with the bus companies, the resorts themselves, and the lodging operators separately, and some of the latter aren't too keen about hosting nearly 100 high school kids away from their parents for a weekend. I worked with Target Sport Tours out of Massachusetts a few times (I'm not sure if they're still around or not), as they specialized in student trips.

Generally speaking, you'll get the group lift ticket rate with a group of 20 or more, with one free ticket per 20 that's typically given to chaperones, trip leaders, etc. You don't need to pre-pay these, but you do need to reserve them in advance by calling the resort's group sales office. You show up with payment, get the tickets and distribute them on the bus. That of course would be next to impossible to do if people arrive helter-skelter in their own vehicles. And besides, just about any group sales office is going to expect that a high school group will have chaperones available if a student gets hurt, which is sure to happen eventually -- perhaps sooner rather than later. The same 20:1 ratio generally applies to the entire package price if you're going through a tour operator. Back in the early 80s, we could pull off a weekend at Jay including lifts, meals, bus and dorm-style lodging for $99!

If you're planning the trip yourself, you'll find that the price of chartering the bus varies widely between bus companies, so shop around. And for lodging on overnight stays, be sure to pick a place where you get the meals included right at the lodge -- you don't want kids to have to scatter to fend for themselves to eat. Finally, as the school isn't backing you, make sure that you have liability insurance to cover the trip planners in the unlikely event that something goes south.

I have some wonderfully fond memories of some of those trips, Rosemary's hijinx in Montpelier notwithstanding. :roll: Then there was the time en route to Montgomery Center, VT (near Jay) that the buses became separated and one tried the shortest distance between two points: the unplowed VT Rte. 58 through Hazen's Notch that's not maintained in winter. :shock: To this day, I can't figure out how the driver missed that gigantic yellow sign advising that the road was closed! Or, the time that we found that the bus driver had a beer or two during the day in his bus while we were skiing. :shock: Or the time that...
 

hamdog

New member
Finally, as the school isn't backing you, make sure that you have liability insurance to cover the trip planners in the unlikely event that something goes south.

or find a waiver that all club members must sign that waive's all liability from the school, club particpants, chaperon's, mom's, dad's, brother's, sisters, resort employees, etc etc. (you get the idea).

have them sign their life away.

this may be difficult to get parents to sign for thier underage kids, but since the school isn't backing you (maybe include that in an attachment to the waiver), you gotta cover you're own tail. one way to deter from them signing thier kids life's away is to list an hourly forcasted timeline of the entire weekend. (include the lights out and depending on the workload at this school, maybe even a study hour (or two)). that's probably a good idea anyways so that club members have an idea of what the haps is too.

there's this backcountry riding club at a college somewhere in Montana. all you do is sign a waiver, take an avalanche course (common sense), and aquire the proper gear. the president emails all the members through a listserv. reply if you plan to come, don't if you don't. real simple, but all liability has been waived.

skiing is a dangerous sport and if people can't realize this and not be held accountable for thier (or perhaps someone elses, tree's, rocks, etc) actions, mistakes, slips, falls, etc then you don't want those people in your club anyways. you're doing them a favor by offering them ski trips and getting the trips organized. it's quite a bit of work since the hills are all way outside of town and the people all live different distances. get a hotel near school so that when you get back to the DC metro area then people don't have to worry about driving home for another hour or so.

extra cost? yes. ok then, just do one night at the mountain and then come home a day early(2nd night in DC area). maybe do a survey of people who would be interested in the club and ask them if they'd rather two night's or 3 nights, with the 3rd night being closer to campus. if the response if feasable for both options then do both. if not, then pick one and do that both times (if you're planning on doing two weekend trips through the year).
 

Admin

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hamdog":2uo7py66 said:
have them sign their life away.

In most jurisdictions, the waiver serves as little more than a deterrent to a lawsuit. In reality, you really can't sign away rights that exist under common law in the absence of the waiver, so it acts as little more than a speed bump to litigation.
 

aaron12345

New member
This whole liability thing does make me a tad nervous, especially because a waiver means next to nothing once a law suit starts... The suggestions are great though! Since we have block scheduling, one idea was including a section in the waiver for weeknight trips about how they had their homework done the night before the trip. Not that it would mean anything... but it might make the school and parents happy :) Another idea I had was since most juniors and seniors would say, "I want to come, but I don't feel like paying for a bus since I can drive" would be to try to subsidise the cost of the bus with usual fund raising things such as car washes etc starting as soon as possible so that we only have to pay for lift tickets and lodging. Do you think either of these things would work. I'm still not sure about a tour operator vs. planning myself I'll probably go with whatever is cheapest.
 

nymous

New member
don't know if you are thinking of after school trips, but getting from alexandria/fairfax to ski liberty during rush hour will take you 3 hours minimum
 

aaron12345

New member
Oh yea rush hour... forgot about that I'm usually driving up at 5am on a Sat morning. O well weekday trips are out then....
 

aaron12345

New member
So, we had the activity fair... and I got over 150 names and email addresses on a sign-up sheet... beating out model un at a nerd school (not an easy feat)! Anyways, now that I have interest it's time to start planning trips and fund raisers. I already shot out an email about a car wash in two weeks, and our first meeting is wednesday. I was thinking one 2 day weekend to wintergreen (easy and free for me... and I can combine it with teaching one day), one or two day trips to liberty/whitetail, and one 3 day weekend trip to snowshoe or somewhere in new york. Then in the spring maybe work on planning out west for next year winter break. What do you guys think?
 

aaron12345

New member
So I'm working on getting quotes for trips. I talked to one bus company that gave me a quote for a 46 person bus on a day trip to liberty for $900. She said that a smaller bus would be more?!?. What do you guys think? What price should I be looking for on a bus, we probably need something in the range of 25-40 people. The bus would be leaving from Alexandria VA (outside DC), and going to for examplse sake ski liberty. Anyone have bus company recommendations. Also, I've talked to a couple tour operators (don't have pricing from them yet), and they said snowshoe doesn't generally like highschool groups or allow them. Kind of dissapointing, because we were hoping to do a 3 day weekend trip their. We're all pretty hardcore, and it will be a SKI and SNOWBOARD trip, not a drinking trip. Anyone have any ideas on this?
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
That's kind of what I was hinting at before - some places just aren't going to want high school groups. For the overnighter, a tour op simplifies things considerably. As for bus prices, only your local market will determine the right price - call around. However, the cost per person being higher on a smaller bus doesn't surprise me. Think about it...the cost to operate and maintain a motorcoach or a smaller bus won't be directly proportional to its carrying capacity. The bus company doesn't care if you fill their bus or not - aside from added fuel consumption aboard a full bus, due to weight, their cost is the same regardless. If it costs 25% less to operate a smaller bus, but it carries 50% fewer people, the cost per person will be higher.
 

aaron12345

New member
Thanks, I found about 10-15 more bus and tour companies that I have ready to call tomorrow when I get home while it's still business hours. Once I get this all figured out, maybe I'll type up a list and post it somewhere so anyone else planning a ski club near me doesn't have to do through all of this...
 

aaron12345

New member
So we figured out trips and dates today... What do you guys think:

First Day Trip: Ski Liberty Either Sat Jan 7 or Sun Jan 8 (less night skiing, but cheaper)
Second Day Trip: Blue Knob Sat Jan 21
First Overnight Trip: Wintergreen, VA February 11-12
Second Overnight Trip: Wisp (Deap Creek), MD February 25-26

For the WISP trip, after talking to the resort - they referred me to this comfort in that allows one night (sat) stays during peak season. It's about half a mile away (walkable - but not in ski boots) and we'll have the bus with us. Also, the lodging is only $25/night quad occupancy. What do you guys think about lodging off the mountain vs. on the mountain?

This schedule should make for a very busy now until spring for me - all trips above, plus 2-3 wknds/month and all winter break at wintergreen teaching adaptive, plus 3 APs during junior year, and I'm a homecoming chair until mid october :)
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
I can't recall ever doing on-mountain lodging with the group. Too expensive.
 

aaron12345

New member
Okay, the thing about the wintergreen trip is we might have to... I'm not sure if there is non on mountain lodging - the closest would be charlottesville which is 30-40 min away.
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
aaron12345":2bme20rd said:
Should I require the seal of a notary public for the waiver?

Caveat: I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on TV.

I wouldn't bother. Too inconvenient, plus in most jurisdictions you can't release your own negligent acts anyway.
 

aaron12345

New member
To recoup costs of empty seats, we're planning to open up the trips to youth groups etc once I have deposits from everyone from my school if we have any empty seats. I was thinking about it and decided to open the trips up to first tracks members in the DC metro area. More information on our trips is availible at: http://ww2.speedycomputers.tk:1669/ski/
please PM me if you are interested.
 

aaron12345

New member
We almost filled (and probably will fill) a 57 person bus for our overnight trip. Right now we have 5 chaperons for 47 kids. I have to mail the deposits in to the tour company Tuesday - so I need to know if I should desperatly recruite chaperons this weekend. On the flyer/form I said a minimum of 1:10 chaperon student ratio - that's what parents saw, and they are letting their kids come on this assumption. I kind of pulled that number out of no where.... do you guys that have ran clubs before think this is enough chaperons for a one night overnighter?
 
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