People who grew up in Big Bear/surrounding communities, what was your childhood like? How are you doing now?

This is interesting to me - I grew up in big bear until leaving at 21. I'm only 23 now, so my experience growing up there is very recent. Your comment about creating a "movie childhood" is extremely interesting to me. Looking back on my childhood, I suppose a lot of things do lend to that "image" - however I don't think it paints an accurate or honest picture. It's an immense romantization, not totally uncommon for me to hear from tourists to the area. The class divide is worsening dramatically, and continues to do so. The majority of homes in the valley are not full-time residential housing, rather being part-time living and vacation rentals, driving home prices unattainably high for locals, lending into the worsening of the housing problem in the valley. It's a self perpetuating spiral, and not a positive one.

I grew up hearing about how peaceful school life was for generations before me, but I would say bullying amongst peers was the biggest marker of my entire school life - it's deeply normalized within the community and the schools all fail at providing support networks for children who are targeted most. I am white, and so I can only speak from my experiences, but I try to bring attention to those around me who don't have that privilege, and from my experience it's all to common for people of color to be ostracized within the community. Children who are not be white tend to get bullied more than even the worst bullied white kid. I remember in middle school, we got a new student who was middle eastern ethnically, and he was RELENTLESSLY mocked - called every name in the book, constantly being asked why "he and his people were all terrorists" and the works. I cannot imagine that experience being welcoming or comforting for that kid. Most of my fellow students were white, those that weren't were almost all Mexican, and they tended to stick together and for good reason.

The local "government" is intensely corrupt and very, very right-leaning - which always seemed weird to me because of how many left leaning people and immigrants live in the valley - but it seems to be a reflective of the senior residents values. A lot of old people go there to retire, and a good amount of them as of the past decade or so seem to be more and more conservative right wing. The corporate acquisition of the slopes away from local ownership hasn't exactly helped the class divide or the housing problems, either. A great deal of the locals can't get jobs in the valley that pay well enough to live comfortably (having all your needs met, never having to skip bills or meals, etc) within the valley without cramming three to five working adults in a single house (which isn't easy seeing as most of the houses are owned for part-time living and/or vacation rentals). There are several neighborhoods throughout the valley where it's entirely common for your packages and mail to be stolen off porches/out of mailboxes.

Having gone through a trail of negatives, I do think it's worthwhile to bring up some positives. Being able to explore the woods with your friends, go hiking and camping just about whenever, and enjoy all of the fun activities that go along with having a lake made it possible to make a lot of wonderful and valued memories. You end up with a bunch of wacky stories like being 15 in a group of teenagers crammed into a car off-roading in the mud and popping a tire on an unseen rock and having to impromptu camp out overnight waiting for a particular parent to come help us by bringing a spare tire. Being able to watch the spectacular fireworks show from so many different places in the valley, including being able to camp up at the top of the mountain ridge and watch them from above, or being in a boat on the lake while they sparkle above you. Going cave exploring with your friends like at least twice a week. It's possible to win the neighbor lottery and make amazing friends that you can have cookouts and celebrations with. The parks are all very fun and pretty to be in and the local Parks & Recreation Department takes pretty good care of those spaces. The locals farmers market has really nice and wonderful vendors and delicious food. And last but certainly not least, it's one of the few places in southern California that actually has all four seasons, and fire is usually not one of them. Smoke, certainly, but wildfires seldom occur within the valley.

All in all, I do think that there are aspects to growing up in big bear that lend to a very romantic, idyllic "movie childhood" - but there are also a lot of aspects that make it very difficult to live there. I don't think I'd trade my childhood for anything, but I don't think romanticizing it into a "movie childhood" is productive to anyone - least of which the children currently growing up there. The problems those kids face along with their families are very real. It's not a residential town, it's a resort town - and it's very difficult to be a resident there.

/r/bigbear Thread Parent