CAMDEN, Maine — A December blizzard coupled with school vacation meant that there were smiles on the faces of hundreds of people last Thursday who came to the Camden Snow Bowl to ski, snowboard and enjoy the white winter wonderland around them.
“The conditions are really nice,” said Andrew Dailey of the Snow Bowl. “It’s packed powder. It’s nice, it’s soft — not scratchy at all — it’s just good East Coast skiing.”
Dailey, the ski school and marketing director, said that the community-owned ski and recreation area overlooking Penobscot Bay has some new features this winter.
“We’ve cut four new glades and we’ve added four or five new terrain park elements,” he said.
Those “elements” are where skiers do tricks like jumps and little kickers, Dailey said.
“It’s the new thing in the ski industry,” he said.
Something else he’s excited about is WinterKids, an independent nonprofit organization in Maine, which runs programs to get kids outdoors and active in the winter. Through the WinterKids Passport, Maine’s fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders are eligible for free and discounted tickets, lessons and rentals at outdoor recreation centers across the state.
One of those centers is the Snow Bowl, and on Sunday, Jan. 9, participating WinterKids will ski for free. Their parents and siblings will get a $10 lesson, a $10 lift ticket and a $10 rental — a substantial savings, Dailey said.
“It’s huge across the state of Maine,” he said of the program.
Participants will have access to more of the Camden Snow Bowl ski area, after officials opened the chairlift to the top of the mountain last week.
“Opening the lift is huge for us,” said Snow Bowl General Manager Jeff Kuller. “Everybody wants it.”
He said that efforts to redevelop the ski resort, part of the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area, are progressing. More than $2 million has been raised privately toward the project, which will add chairlifts, trails, a new lodge, parking, hiking capacity and more multiseason use.
“We’re getting there, but we’ve got a ways to go,” Kuller said.
For now, between the mountain’s snowmaking capacity and the recent blizzard, which left 12 wind-blown inches of snow on Ragged Mountain, the resort has open trails and happy skiers, he said.
“There’s no better marketing than fresh snow,” Kuller said.
For more information about the Camden Snow Bowl, call 236-3438 or visit www.camdensnowbowl.com.
For more information about the WinterKids program, please call 871-5700 or www.winterkids.org.