Winter 2023/2024 registration is now open!

We are excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2023/2024 Chester Winter Program! While this may seem early to begin to think about skiing and snowboarding, winter will upon us soon enough and we have a lot of amazing programming planned. Please take a second to read through this email and be sure to pay attention to the info about registration and scholarships as those aspects of the program have changed this year.

Registration

You need to complete a Google form if you plan on renting ski or snowboard equipment, and/or if you are requesting a scholarship (even if the scholarship is for just a season pass). Families only need to complete this form once, so please communicate with your partners to avoid submitting multiple entries. If you are getting a season pass only, and are NOT requesting a scholarship, then you do not need to register. When you register, you will identify how many season passes, how many sets of equipment, and what equipment you will be renting. If you are requesting a scholarship, you will also do that as part of this registration and will identify your family size and income range. There is more info about scholarships below. Once you click “Submit” you are registered.

Registration is open starting Tuesday, 9/12/23 and will close Monday, October 9 at 9am. You can register any time in that window. After that point, if you miss the deadline to sign up, you will have to sign up for any available ski fitting appointments once we post it to our website starting on October 16, and your family will likely not have access to scholarship funding, as we expect that it will have all been awarded.

You can register now at this link: https://forms.gle/24LufAzY1EAggJ4J8.

Costs & Payments

The costs of this year’s program can be found by following this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zkW55da5T0R9OSL1shXWDnhv8VRQfxK0/view?usp=sharing

You will notice that there are more categories this year for season passes and rentals. To determine your family’s costs, you must first find the number of season passes you are purchasing, then find the number of equipment rentals, and then you can follow the row over to find your initial cost.

There are several different payment options you may choose:

  • Credit Card/ Debit Card- this is a new option, and please note that there will be a surcharge to cover the processing fees
  • Cash
  • Check
  • Payment Plan: You must provide Chester Bowl with three pre-written checks when you check out. Your total cost will be divided into three payments. The first check is due and dated at the time of your equipment fitting. The second check will be dated and deposited on January 15, and the third payment will be dated and deposited on February 15.

Scholarships

The scholarship support is designed for families with lower income that are unable to afford to participate in our programs without financial support. This season, the scholarship funding is limited to $25,000. If your family is requesting a scholarship, please complete the winter program registration form before the 9 am October 9th deadline. Families will be notified of the scholarship amount they can expect before equipment fittings. Scholarships will be awarded based on need and will be awarded first to families that completed their volunteer hours last season and new families.  Families may be responsible for a portion of their rental fees even if they are requesting a full scholarship. You can see a full explanation of the changes to our scholarship program and the reasons for it here: https://www.chesterbowl.org/uncategorized/winter-scholarship-update/.

Equipment Fittings

We have a limited amount of gear that is rented out for the season on a first come, first served basis. Families will sign up for individual ski or snowboard fitting appointments.  On October 10 a link will be emailed out to families that completed their hours from last season or are new to the program. The link will be mailed out on October 13 to families that did not complete their volunteer hours last year. This link will let everyone watch a winter slideshow summarizing all the different programming we have planned for the winter. At the end of the presentation, there will be a link to a Signup Genius page where families can sign up for ski or snowboard fittings.

Once signed up, families will come to Chester on their scheduled fitting night in late October or November, get fit for their gear, put it in their cars, and then pay for that equipment. They then take that gear home with them, wait (patiently?) for snow, and then ski at Chester and our partner organizations all winter long!

Equipment returns are April 22-24. Please put these dates in your calendar now, because if you miss these return nights you will be in the last group to sign up for equipment fitting nights during the 2024/2025 season.

Season Pass Benefits

Our season passes come with free lift tickets and deals at our partner resorts including: Mount Ashwabay, Giants Ridge, Mont du Lac, Lutsen, Mount Ski Gull, Whitecap, and Spirit Mountain. Details on the benefits are still being confirmed for 2023/2024.

There’s a lot of info in this email and can be a lot to absorb especially if you are a new family. Please email sam@chesterbowl.org if you have any questions. If you know of any families that would benefit from learning to ski or snowboard, please share this email with them or encourage them to visit our website. We are looking forward to having a great winter with all of you.

Winter Scholarship Update

One big reason Chester Bowl exists is so any family can participate in recreation programs in the park regardless of their income or ability to pay. For decades, Chester Bowl has had a scholarship fund that has helped hundreds of families afford to ski, snowboard, and come to summer camp by awarding full or partial scholarships. Up until this point, no family has been turned away, and every scholarship request has been awarded in full.

Over the last few years, scholarship requests have skyrocketed. This is good news in one way, because it means we have been able to help more families who want to participate in Chester Bowl programs. And although fundraising for the scholarship fund has also increased, it has not kept pace with requests.

As one comparison, in 2018 we awarded $8,000 in summer camp scholarships and $18,500 in winter scholarships. Over the last year, we awarded $32,000 in summer camp scholarships and $42,000 in winter scholarships- nearly triple the requests in just a five-year span! In most years fundraising has fallen short of requests by about $6,000, which we have been able to absorb as an organization and still fully award requests. For the last two years, that gap has been about $27,000, and we simply can’t afford to provide unlimited scholarships any more. We are at a point where we have to limit scholarships to ensure we are able to continue providing programs and scholarships into the future.

For the winter of 2023/2024, we have $25,000 in scholarship awards available. This is still a significant amount, but it is very likely that requests will exceed the funding we have available.

Families will need to request scholarships during the registration period between September 12 and 9 am on October 9. The request is part of the regular registration process, and you will have the opportunity to request a full or partial scholarship. We expect that anyone who does not register by the deadline is unlikely to be awarded a scholarship.

If you are a family requesting a scholarship, we want you to ask for what you need – but only what you need. Families may be responsible for paying a portion of their program fees even if they requested a full scholarship. We are optimistic that we can spread out the awards so that most, or even all, of the folks wanting to participate this winter will be able to afford to. You MUST register by 9am on October 9 to be awarded a scholarship for the winter, even if you are just requesting a season pass.

Chester Bowl is prioritizing scholarships for new families and returning families who completed their volunteer hours last winter first, followed by returning families that did not complete their volunteer hours. Families with the lowest income will also likely receive a higher percentage of their request than those with higher income.

Your family will be notified of its scholarship award by Chester staff before noon on Tuesday, October 10. If your family chooses to accept this award amount and move forward with the winter program you will watch the winter slideshow and sign up for fitting times.

For future years, the total scholarship amount available will be based on the prior year’s fundraising, and will be split between summer and winter programming. We raise money for the scholarship fund through Fall Fest gate donations, Skis, Suds, & Slices, Grants (thank you Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and Rotary Club 25 for your recent awards!) and donations from individuals and businesses. If you want to support the scholarship fund, please give generously at the Fall Fest gate, come out to Skis, Suds, & Slices on November 10 and bid on silent auction items, and/or contact Dave about making your tax-deductible gift directly.

If you have any questions about the scholarship fund, you can reach out to Dave at dave@chesterbowl.org or 218-940-9378.

Cheers to Chester September 7

Please join us for “Cheers to Chester”, a party thrown by Ski Hut for Chester bowl at Bent Paddle. This event is raising money for Growing Up Chester, Chester Bowl’s fundraising campaign to expand and renovate the Thom Storm Chalet.

The event, held between 6 and 9pm on Thursday, September 7th, features live music from Ross Thorn, beverages available for purchase from Bent Paddle, food available for purchase from the Rambler, activities for kids and free popsicles from the Duluth Area Outdoor Alliance. You can also win a e-bike and more! The fundraising mechanism at this event is purchasing raffle tickets. Ski Hut has donated TONS of prizes including a strider bike, hats, hydroflasks, and the grand prize of an e-bike! The bike is a Yuma Fastrack Cargo E-bike, a $3,999 value! You can see the bike at this link. The more $10 tickets you buy, the greater your chance to win! Plus, buying tickets could give you BOGO cards and other perks at Bent Paddle. According to state law, tickets can be purchased by cash or check only. Can’t make the event? You can buy your tickets in advance from Ski Hut (Bent Paddle perks only available at the event), and you do not need to be present to win.

Ski Hut will lead a group ride from Chester Park to the event at Bent Paddle. You can register for the ride by clicking here, and you will receive more info before the ride.

Last year’s event raised just over $4,000; can we top it this year? Every dollar raised goes to the upcoming Chalet expansion and renovation! Ski Hut has also donated $30,000 to Growing Up Chester- thank you Ski Hut for your generosity!

We have a Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/218264137883189/

You can find out more about Growing Up Chester and donate directly at www.growingupchester.org.

Concert Series Volunteering

The Chester Creek Concert Series consists of ten free Tuesday night concerts at Chester Bowl. The City of Duluth is the lead agency, and Chester Bowl supports the series. 

Each week we need three volunteers to help the event happen. We meet at the stage one hour before show time for training and to get bright vests and radios. The first hour is spent helping direct cars to parking. During the 90 minute show volunteers are available to help as needed, but mostly just get to listen to the music. After the show, we spend up to 30 minutes picking up garbage and otherwise cleaning up the area.

Volunteers must be 18 or older. This is the first volunteer opportunity that could count towards your winter volunteer requirement for winter 2023/2024. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be done with your hours before the season even starts (and completed while wearing shorts)?

You can sign up to volunteer here:

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090D4DAAAE2CA4FA7-chester8

Check out the concert lineup here, and volunteer on the nights your favorite bands are playing! https://www.chesterbowl.org/uncategorized/chester-creek-concert-series-2023-lineup-announced/

Duluth, Minnesota