MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Arizona -- A group of service members, with help from the Single Marine Program, took a snowboarding vacation Jan. 27-29 to Bear Mountain in Big Bear Lake, Calif.
Twelve Marines, a sailor and a guest hit the snow for a full day of fun on the packed powder of Bear Mountain, which features a terrain park with 82 man-made jumps, rails, boxes, banks, quarter pipes and half pipe for snowboarders and freeskiers. The mountain averages 75 inches of snowfall each year and rises to nearly 9,000 feet above sea level.
Of the service members, not a one skied. All, experienced or beginner riders, tried their luck with a snowboard at this very snowboard-friendly mountain. The service members had a great time and suffered only two minor injuries.
“I think it went pretty well,” said Angie Marchman, station SMP coordinator. “A couple of guys kind of got hurt, but overall, I had fun and everybody had fun on the slopes, and that was the point.”
The program aims to improve the quality of living for single Marines, and it does this by focusing on five main tenets: career progression, health and wellness, community service, life skills and recreation. Recreation is, of course, the most popular of these, and trips like Big Bear attempt to fill that gap in the lives of single Marines.
Cpl. John Hardin, a Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 aviation technician from Austin, Texas, strained his knee a little while landing some aerial maneuvers but had a great time all the same, he said. Hardin also went on the annual trip last year.
“I’m really stoked about the trip,” said Hardin. “It was a good time.”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesse Edwards, a dental technician from La Peer, Mich., also rode hard during the trip and said he hopes the young program continues to grow.
“I think it’s a great idea because it gives the people who aren’t married something to do,” said Edwards. “More people should take advantage of it. And it’s cheap -- twenty-eight bucks to go to Big Bear.”
Sgt. Al Peguero, a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 Marine and Denver native, was the only Marine who rode the slopes two days and was impressed by the relaxed feel of the SMP trip; his first.
“I thought there’d be more of a set schedule,” Peguero said. “It was pretty cool how laid back it was. I liked that.”
SMP Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., also hit Big Bear at the same time. Peguero spent some time with them and would like to see more coordination of Marines from different SMPs.
“I think everybody going as a group, together, would be cooler because you’d get to meet other Marines from different places,” he said.