Monday Morning at 7 AM (when the website is supposed to open) shouldn't feel like a feeding frenzy in the shark pool.

I know that there are a limited number of seats that are released right at 7 AM. That number is a factor of how many Bus Captains (not Supervisors) have signed up, and availability of buses. Generally I figure we will have 300 kids going on any one trip. That is supposed to be a maximum number based on the requests of the ski areas.

History tells me that not more than 1 out of 3 kids will go on any one trip. Not so this year, hence the problem. If I am impacted by any one of three factors: Adults, Buses, or participants, we will run out of seats faster than we should. Throw in Winnemac Park as a selection and all bets are off. So, I meter the seats. This has resulted in people doing bizarre things like purchasing seats at Old Orchard when they really want to be at River Forest. That's not the way to ensure you get a seat. Nor is trying to figure out the bus routes so you just get a seat on a downstream stop but get on at the original stop. Please don't do that.

If you don't get a seat and you are trying for Winnemac, remember Lincoln Park is just 5 miles away. You are not going to sway me with "but my child has to ride with their friends and they all got seats leaving from Winnemac," They can spend the rest of the day with the friends (after the lesson). I don't want you to buy a seat that you don't want. In fact, I want and usually do accommodate everyone. I start with the emails and work from there. Emails that are switches from one location to another are handled AFTER the ones for people without seats at their chosen route. For the most part, the locations are discreet and cannot be substituted for one another, with the exception of Lincoln Park and Winnemac Park. Maybe you can also throw in Old Orchard in that mix if you live further north. But I don't always know which bus route will pick up Park Ridge or Half Day Rd, so it is hard to second guess the route. It changes each week with minor exceptions (Schaumburg will always get picked up by Oak Brook or River Forest).

Send me an email that states your child's name. Most of the emails talk to me like I should immediately know that your last name, which is Hoffman, has a child with the last name of Smith, and a first name of Bunny, but is signed up as Rachael. Yep - that's a real instance - mine. Then tell me what stop you want but didn't get. Don't buy into the trip just to have a seat. I start looking at the mix of the requests and I calculate what stops are undersubscribed and how I can use them in a route. Basically, I am doing logistics. But the important part is I start with the requests that don't already have seats. Then work on the switches of stops. Some are legitimate as parents live in two locations or there is an event that impacts a pick up stop, but not just to reserve a seat. It makes my job harder. The purchase of a Blizzard reservation is encoded with the stop. I can't alter that. So, it becomes a manual process. I WILL send you a direct  email that allows you to sign up. It will announce that I have added seats (but anyone can grab them if they happen to go on-line). I do have one other way to ensure you get a seat, but that is my secret weapon...

I can't do any route and seat management until Thursday unless it is to order a completely new bus to a route. Then I am back to one of the factors of seats. Many thanks to an intrepid couple who agreed to help us out on January 16th in captaining a bus when we ran out of Bus Captains and Supervisors for our largest route.

Last week parents actually complained that their kids were not on the roster of their departure stop. That's because they showed up at a stop other than one I had for them. I count on cancellations and "No Shows" to provide some flexibility in the system, but we actually had buses come to Alpine with more than 50 kids and others with under 40. That is too many - even if we weren't trying to suppress the sharing of Covid. Gone are the days when I stood in the aisle the entire way to Wilmot to let one last kid on the bus (this was before we automated the system). Every person who was supposed to come had a seat and was on the appropriate roster. There were 8 buses and each had a separate list of possible attendees. Everyone was accounted for. Some people doggedly chose to ignore me and show up at a different stop. Some gave up the chase and decided on other activities for the day.

Want to know how I spent today? Reconciling those bus lists to identify who came and who did not. Some parents- and thank you to them - had sent me an email as soon as they knew their child would be absent, but some just let me learn when they are not accounted for on a bus roster. That's how I know who to refund and for how much. Cancellation emails are appreciated - even day of.

So, now you know how to handle the sign ups for all the future trips.
The Lost & Found travels with the Club. If you are missing something the best place to find it again is at Alpine. Ask at the Blizzard Desk and they will let you know where you can see the items. We have lots of gloves.

Bus Etiquette
includes the wearing of masks and the containment of trash, as well as good behavior.  I have little tolerance for those that feel they can make their own rules and challenge authority when we are providing an invaluable service to others. If you cannot convince your child that they must follow our leadership and adhere to our requests of wearing a masks at all times on the bus, and to relocate their trash to a trashbag and not the bus floor, then they can stay at home. The Oak Brook bus in particular seems to be a problem. It is a lack of respect to all the other members on the bus and certainly for our adults who volunteer their time and have to spend it cleaning up after these kids. Warnings have been issued, others may come if the situation doesn't improve. 

The standard answer that they lost their mask or are eating does not apply. We have masks they can have - both kids and adult sizes - and no on eats for an hour and one-half, If they do, my solution is to ban food on the bus.

Ski Area Etiquette
Similar to the trash in the buses, there is no maid service to clean up after the kids in the Blizzard area at any resort. Kids are responsible for their own trays and the surrounding areas. This past Saturday was the worst I have ever seen it. We wind up cleaning up the place before we leave. If it happens again, we will detain the entire club to clean up the mess created by an ungoverned and unruly few.

Lift tickets can be pulled by Security and Alpine employees for anyone jumping ahead in a lift line, using the single line for groups, skiing out of control or recklessly, skiing in the woods, or going too fast in a slow area. They may or may not warn the person depending on how blatant the infraction. That's what they conveyed to us.

If you are driving up, you must check in at the Blizzard Desk to receive your lift ticket and your Blizzard Membership card (if you don’t already have it.) The Blizzard desk is in the FairView bldg to the far right of all the buildings as you face the slopes. If your child needs to be classified (first time with Blizzard and not a rank beginner) you must be there around 9 AM. Lessons are mandatory. For Never Evers and very beginning skiers and boarders lessons will start around 9:30. Other lessons will go out as soon as the buses arrive. Our general meeting place is by the Blizzard flags in front of that same FairView building.

"Can I pick up my kid and their friends from Wilmot or Alpine?" (Taken from the FAQ section on the website)
If you are picking up your child or anyone else's child from Wilmot or Alpine, we need two things. One, is a note that is given to the Bus Captain of the originating bus, from each parent on the morning of the trip. Second, you need to be at the ski area prior to our departure at 2:45 PM so we can ensure that you have coordinated with your child and whomever is leaving with you. Please arrange to meet your kid(s) at the Blizzard area prior to 2:30 PM, share your ID with us, and sign out the departing members. This is a liability issue for us and we will hold up the departure of the entire club if someone is missing, delayed, or has been taken without our knowledge.

Honestly, I don't write all this for my health. Standard procedures make everything run smoothly. If we adhere to written policy, everyone's lives become simpler and consistent. We expanded the club to give more parents and kids the opportunity to enjoy winter snowsports. If we all follow a few simple procedures we can keep offering our service to an expanded group. If people can't comply, we will have to cutback and offer our program to fewer people to leave more room for handholding. It's not that hard. Everything you need to know really is under the "More Info" tab on the website. Do your part. Get involved by reading the website. That will make my job easier so I have time to handle more kids.

Last Little item
Single most annoying challenge people face - Login. The login is case sensitive to lowercase. All IOS devices and some Android ones capitalize the first letter of the string. You need to override the capital and replace it with a lowercase letter. 

With that, I am calling it a night
We'll see how sign up goes tomorrow

We got some snow, now pray for more

Suzanne Hoffman
Blizzard Ski & Snowboard School
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