Today’s reader question:
I want to do some snowboarding this summer, but snowboard camp cost about $1,500 per week. Any cheaper options to get my summer snowboarding on?
There are a few slightly cheaper options and I’ll give you a quick break down below.
Option 1: Pay for terrain park access and book everything else yourself
Lift pass + park access = $695 per week
Accommodation = about $200 per week
Some camps have a terrain park only option for their camps. These passes mean you are paying for only access to ride on their park without any coaching or accommodation.
For example, Camp of Champions currently offers a ‘Pro Camp’ option which is $695 per week for 6 days unlimited access to their entire park and it includes lift tickets for the Whistler Blackcomb lifts.
It does add up if you intend to stay for the whole summer glacier season (1 month), but it’s still cheaper than the $1800+ they charge per week for the full camp package at Camp of Champions.
For accommodation, the cheapest option is to either arrive and stay in a hostel until you can find a cheap short term room rental in the local paper, or check with the staff housing at Whistler Blackcomb which does sometimes offer cheap beds for rent.
If you do go the staff housing option, be warned that those spots fill up quick and priority is given to actual staff members, so even taking a summer job with Whistler Blackcomb might not be such a bad idea if you’re strapped for cash and want cheap accommodation.
Option 2: Go to New Zealand (it’s not really *that* expensive)
Lift pass = $1000-1200 for 3 months riding
Plane ticket = ? (anywhere from a couple hundred to $1.5k depending on where you live and how good you are at finding cheap flights)
Accommodation = $100-130 per week (less if you do chores for the hostels)
This is probably the more popular option since it’s basically the same as winter snowboarding in the northern hemisphere, except the season is about half as long.
The only expensive part about this option is the plane ticket (depending on where you live), but if you want to snowboard for a longer period of time it works out cheaper per week vs. any summer snowboard camp.
You can get a season pass for about $1000-1200ish at most hills near Queenstown/Wanaka, which will give you about 3 months of snowboarding at one of the local hills. That’s 3 times as much snowboarding time as you’ll get from any summer snowboard camp in N. America, assuming you can take the time off from work/study.
Accommodation is about $100-130~ NZ dollars per week if you arrive before the season begins and use the local classifieds to find a room before the good deals get taken up.
Your other option for accommodation is to spend the full season in a hostel at ~$25-35 per night. It’s pricier, but many NZ hostels also offer the option to do a few hours of work in exchange for cheaper/free accommodation every day.
Your only other real expense in NZ is transport to/from the mountain each day due to the ski fields being about 30 min to 45 min away from the closest towns.
If you’re willing to spend the cash, you can get a season passes for bus transport, but hitchhiking is also VERY common in NZ and I’d guess that over half the season riders hitch hike every day and it’s actually become a very reliable way to get to/from the hill in NZ.
Overall, I like the NZ option more if you want more days on snow, plus it’s an experience to travel and snowboard in new, fun places. However, if you’re after the quick, 1 week snowboard fix, then the budget summer snowboard camp option #1 is your best bet.
Hope that helps!
ps – if you aren’t into park, your only real option is NZ or S. America, Camp of Champions is more for learning freestyle and terrain park riding.