Although it’s still October I have to admit to having a slight hankering for snow. Maybe it’s the appearance of ski equipment magazines in the stores (and now on my bedside table) or all the snowmobile signs I saw on a recent trip to The County, but I found myself gazing longingly at my snow boots and shovel in anticipation of a white Christmas and more this coming winter.
A large part of my snow hunger comes from living and working in close proximity to the Camden Snow Bowl, of course. We are so lucky in the midcoast to have an affordable, family-friendly, community-owned ski hill in our midst. Even hardened “loafers” admit to loving the little hill, and visitors to the Chamber office are amazed to learn that there’s skiing in such close proximity to the ocean — and in such a beautiful setting.
As many of you no doubt will have heard, the Snow Bowl and the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area it stands sentinel over are in the midst of a fundraising campaign to allow for the revitalization and rejuvenation of this community asset to ensure that outdoor recreation — both on snow and year-round — continue to be accessible and affordable for all of the midcoast’s residents for many decades to come.
Beyond the year-round recreational opportunities the Snow Bowl offers to folks from Appleton to Warren and all points in between, the economic impact of a vibrant and updated facility cannot be easily overstated. Better facilities allow for a better experience for locals and visitors alike, as well as diversifying the range of activities we all can enjoy up the mountain. It’s not just about skiing (or even toboggans) these days — the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area is and, will become more so, a destination for mountain bikers, hikers, local sports teams, picnickers, concert-goers (as illustrated at the recent — brilliant — Harvest Hootenanny), small-group meetings, weddings, reunions and more. The additional capacity only will enhance our ability to attract conferences, meetings and events. The improved connectivity between trails on the mountain and on neighboring and nearby land trust and state park properties give us a virtual national park right at our doorstep.
All of this means more recreation dollars will stay in the local economy and we’ll be able to “import” more money in the form of enlightened visitors who know that they can experience the best of Maine in the midcoast. The additional revenue generated would boost the economy across the board as well as boost the year-round difference that sets us apart from so much of coastal Maine.
Equally important is the impact on quality of life. We all know why we stayed here or moved here — anything that enhances that ability to connect with our environment and the outdoors makes this place only more attractive to existing residents, those young folks we send off to school or careers hoping they’ll make their way home, and to those people smart enough to figure out this is one of the best spots on the planet to call home.
The committee raising money to get the redevelopment moving has a target of $4.5 million; they have almost $2 million raised already. Once all the private money is raised, the town of Camden will issue a bond for the $2 million balance, and the region will have a resurgent mountain to play on, relax on and call our own. To help out or to find out more, visit www.camdensnowbowl.com/redevelopment. See you at the Snow Bowl!
Dan Bookham is the executive director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce. Call 236-4404, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.visitcamden.com for more information.