Are you celebrating a recent snowfall? Glad that there is still some winter left vs. hoping for spring to come early? The opportunity to enjoy world class skiing remains an important draw in the Upper Valley, for people who have lived here their whole lives to newcomers adjusting to their first New England winter.
What you may not know is volunteers play a really important role in keeping many of the smaller ski areas here in operation.
If you love the snow, and you want the thrill of skiing and snowboarding to remain an integral part of the Upper Valley, perhaps you’ll consider lending a hand at one of these four local ski areas.
- Arrowhead Recreation Area in Claremont, New Hampshire, depends entirely on volunteers to keep its winter program running. And you don’t have to be a downhill racer or a snowboard show-off to lend a hand. Arrowhead needs help at the concession stand and the ticket counter. They need folks who are certified in CPR to work as First Aid first responders. You could work in the ski shop, operate the lift, become a tubing attendant, or teach ski and snowboard lessons. Any and all of these positions require the time and talents of volunteers.
- Dartmouth Skiway, in Lyme Center, New Hampshire, does not rely heavily on volunteers to keep its day-to-day operations going. They do, however, take on volunteers to work in their Ski Patrol program. If you’re interested in learning some serious outdoor emergency care skills, this might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. The current batch of ski patrol volunteers includes a combination of professional EMTs, doctors, and Dartmouth College students who have completed the requirements to become certified Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) responders. Interested in working with children at the ski way? Check with the local schools. They coordinate volunteers to provide lessons and supervision of the young ones.
- Storrs Hill Ski Area, in downtown Lebanon, New Hampshire, is one of the gems of the Upper Valley. The sight of the ski jump lit up on a cold winter night warms the hearts of skiers and non-skiers alike, as does the story of Norwegian immigrant Erling Heisted moving to Lebanon in 1923 and deciding to build a ski jump within walking distance of any child in Lebanon who might want to give skiing a try. Today, Storrs Hill is the only year-round Nordic ski jumping training facility in all of New England, and home base for five local high school racing teams. With the support of Lebanon Recreation and Parks and the Lebanon Outing Club, Storrs Hill gets all of this done with one full-time, paid hill manager and a part-time paid assistant. Everyone else—from the lift attendant to the cook in the kitchen—is a volunteer.
- Ascutney Outdoors, in Brownsville, Vermont, is another feel-good story emblematic of the spirit of the Upper Valley. The Mount Ascutney Ski resort had closed two times in its 70 year history, and it might have stayed shuttered forever, had a dedicated group of outdoor enthusiasts not banded together to form the nonprofit Ascutney Outdoors and breathe new life into the old facility. Today, the revived recreation area is owned by the town of West Windsor, but it still needs volunteers to help maintain trails, operate the ski lift, raise funds, and work ski patrol.