Ski & Ride program celebrates 50th anniversary
Last updated 3/14/2023 at Noon
Pink balloons, history installations, and delicious snacks awaited guests at the 50th anniversary party for Black Butte School’s Ski & Ride program at Hoodoo Ski Bowl last Friday. Some had to wait in traffic for an
hour, as wintry conditions and tow trucks brought vehicles to a standstill on Highway 20.
“It’s really about getting people together,” said Delaney Sharp to the crowd. “I appreciate you guys sticking with it.” A round of applause went out for “Gary the bus driver.”
Sharp is head teacher of Black Butte School (BBS). “Keep going up that hill, that’s what you’ve gotta do,” he said.
Ski & Ride is a partnership between BBS and Hoodoo that has now been underway for half a century. On Fridays for two months each year, kids head “up the hill” for their education. One historic photo on display showed students sitting on red-topped stools in front of ancient-looking computers, studying for a history competition in the old Hoodoo lodge with its familiar wooden siding.
“It’s really fun,” proclaimed 10-year-old Gavin Schultz. Now in fifth grade, he’s been attending BBS and Ski & Ride for four years. “For eight weeks we basically go up to the hill and we have instructors who teach us stuff. Our turns, then we start learning tricks after we finish basic skiing.” Computers are not involved.
“I like powder,” Schultz continued. “My favorite run is probably Face.” Face is a black diamond run, meaning it’s for expert skiers.
Ski & Ride is one of Gavin’s favorite parts of school. As for the rest, “There’s a lot of field trips. Also, the teachers always make things fun.”
“Fifty years is a long time,” Sharp told the audience. “A lot of people came through this program.” Some went on to serve on ski patrol or pursue careers related to the outdoors.
“Our kids challenge themselves here on the mountain,” he said. Through outdoor education on the mountain, BBS teachers “put students in situations where they have to persevere, and do it together. It’s a bonding experience.”
Some alumni from years past were present in the lodge (see related article, page 15). “They still remember learning to ski, learning to snowboard, making friends,” Sharp explained, “memories that last a lifetime.”
“This would not happen if we didn’t have a ski area that works with us and our students, no matter what level of ability they’re at,” enthused Sharp. “There’s something special about Hoodoo that makes this program what it is.”
At this remark, the audience burst into applause, over the sound of the band Broken Charley jamming out a cover of the ’80s classic “8675309” from the other room.
Mark Foster took the mic, telling stories of earlier days when Hoodoo newbies had to wrestle with a rope tow to get up the bunny hill. One 5-year-old “fell to the ground, kicking and screaming,” refusing to try. Foster told her, “Well, I think you can scream louder than that.” So she did. When she saw he wasn’t going to give up, she stopped screaming and stood up.
“By the end of the day she could ski,” Foster said with a smile.
Hoodoo’s new owner as of 1999, Chuck Shepard, insisted that he had nothing to do with the program (though in actuality, his support has been necessary and very much appreciated). Legendary BBS teacher Toni Foster informed him that along with Hoodoo Ski Bowl, he had acquired Ski & Ride.
After Shepard recalled an anecdote about Camp Sherman’s dearly departed “Sheriff Dave” and some drunk teens on the mountain, it was time for the raffle and silent auction.
Local businesses donated to fundraising efforts, offering gift cards, blankets, tea baskets, and more. Hola! restaurant, Camp Sherman Store, Suttle Lodge, Jessie Dale, Holly Foster, and Lindsay Gilmore Art were among the donors from communities near Hoodoo.
Generous lodgings on nearby waterways were provided by Lake Creek Lodge and House on Metolius. Various winners took home gift certificates to Daybreak Wellness in Sisters, hoodies with a 50th anniversary design created by Plazm Media, and private stargazing tours courtesy of Starshine Theater.
Outdoor gear included ski goggles donated by Smith, paddle boards from Latitude 44, and gift cards from Hike-n-Peaks in Sisters and Gear Fix in Bend. Hoodoo offered free lift tickets, and Ray’s Food Place donated refreshments.
Molly Schultz of Black Butte School’s parent-teacher organization thanked numerous volunteers and staff from past years, including Toni Foster, Steve Johnson, Stephanie Conner, Mark Foster, Marti Dale, Ann Schreiner, Tonye Philips, Joan Judy, John Judy, Steve Davis, Nancy Dyer, Jade Scheringer, Kathy Blann, Karen Sheldahl, Jon Sheldahl, Pam Titchner, Doug Hancock, Lorie Hancock, Doug Curtis, Scott McNitt, and Sarah Haynes.