Despite differences in size, the winter programs of the Ski Club of Washington, D.C. (with its 1,500 members) and the Baltimore Ski Club (with 244 members) operate similarly.
Both clubs offer trips for skiers and snow-boarders, focus on member communication, and hold ski-themed events prior to the snow season.
Most people probably join ski clubs to utilize group-buying power for trip deals. But there are other reasons, too, such as skiing with others at the same level, apres-ski parties, and on-mountain social activities.
The Washington group’s planned trips this season include 15 across the United States and Canada, plus six in the Mid-Atlantic (including cross-country skiing in West Virginia).
The Baltimore club offers seven trips, with three by bus, four by air, and a day trip to a local ski resort.
Both belong to the Blue Ridge Ski Council, made up of 26 ski clubs in the Mid-Atlantic region. For the current season, the Washington members can join the BRSC-sanctioned Eurofest in Mayrhofen, Austria, and the Western Carnival in Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
The Western Carnival is also on the BSC’s list, and Eurofest is open to Baltimore members if they go with another club.
Some SCWDC members are certified ski and snowboard instructors who often offer no-cost lessons.
The BSC provides rebates of $20 a day, up to four days, for instruction, but some instruction is free, says the club’s LuAnn Snyder.
Each club keeps in touch with members through websites, e-newsletters (or a hard copy at extra cost), special events, and social media.
Trip leaders are trained before taking on the responsibility of a complex itinerary.
Both clubs require new leaders to start at the bottom of the ladder on relatively easy day trips.
Post-trip, participants evaluate the leaders, the lodging, and transportation for future guidance.
Of course, some trips fill early and wait lists are created, but rarely are trips cancelled for lack of participation.
If a trip fills to capacity (which sometimes can be expanded), the leader travels free as a benefit for the hours that he or she spends on pre-trip work and on the mountain. But the clubs can’t guarantee the best weather, since advance planning requires long lead times.
Leaders often schedule pre-trip parties where participants can schmooze and trade travel tips.
One skier’s suggestion saved me a few bucks on airline baggage fees to Italy, where I rented equipment for less than the $200 round-trip cost of the second bag; my boot bag became a carry-on.
Dues won’t break the bank. Besides single memberships, the SCWDC offers a family deal for $73 and renewal for $53; the BSC offers deals of $55 for families and $50 for renewal. That’s a small price to pay for the value received and the friendships made.
Baltimore Ski Club: baltimoreskiclub.org
Ski Club of Washington, D.C.: scwdc.org