by Jeff Hoyt
EDITOR’S NOTE: Between a fatal bus crash and a manhunt for a revenge-minded cop-turned-copkiller, Big Bear Lake, California, has been in the national news a lot lately. I had the pleasure of visiting the area just before the back-to-back headline-grabbers occurred. As the area struggles to put these episodes behind them, the following innocent tale reflects the type of news Big Bear wants to make.
Growing up in sunny Southern California, my daughters are exposed to sand, sea, surf and sun, but not snow. Good thing nature provided Angelenos with nearby mountains so kids can frolic in a geographically desirable winter wonderland. For their first foray into snow, the kids rode up to Big Bear Lake, California, which is taking on child obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles through a new program called KIDS. GET OUTDOORS. WIN.
The innovative program is based on a new adventure stamp passport designed to introduce youngsters to a host of winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, inner tubing, snowshoeing and animal tracking. Each time a child finishes an activity associated with an “Outdoor Fun Spot” — including Bear Mountain, Snow Summit, Big Bear Discovery Center and Action Zipline Tours — he or she gets the passport booklet stamped. Participants who earn one stamp can redeem it for a free go-cart ride or one round of miniature golf at Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain; the more stamps, the better the reward. Earning three or more stamps gets kids entered in a drawing for valuable prizes including a new snowboard, a season pass to Big Bear Mountain Resorts or an all-inclusive trip to Big Bear.
My girls, aged two-and-a-half and five-and-a-half, didn’t need any such promotion to enjoy the snow. At the Magic Mountain Recreation Area at Big Bear Lake, they were happy to slide downhill on inner tubes, build a snowman, and, of course, throw snowballs at Daddy. They also took repeated runs on the Alpine Slide. This year-round attraction lets riders navigate their own individually controlled sleds down a windy quarter-mile track with or without a child in your lap. Two of us squeezed in a go-kart ride as well, but naptime came before there was time for a round of miniature golf. Although it was great to see the kids having fun, the adults enjoyed the snow and the rides almost as much!
That night we left our rental cabin for a walk through the quaint village which even offers horse-drawn carriage tours. Although there are plenty of family-friendly burger places and fast food joints nearby, we had a memorable meal at The Himalayan which features Nepalese and Northern Indian cuisine as well as a colorful shop.
The next day, at Snow Summit, my wife and I alternated quick jaunts down the slopes with watching our youngest at the lodge while our oldest wore skis for the very first time at kids camp. Her lesson went so well, she can’t wait to ski again.
For more information about the KIDS. GET OUTDOORS. WIN. program including a list of Outdoor Fun Spots locations, prize listings and official rules visit www.BigBear.com or call 800-424-4232.
You can click on each photo to enlarge.