Tim Bowers joined the "Stoneham" Skidaddlers Ski and Sports Club five years ago, thinking he could find fellow companions to ski with and enjoy the outdoors. Little did he know he'd find much more within the group, including a position on the Board of Directors and a steady girlfriend.
"Many people come just for the company and to go skiing," said Bowers. "The Club is for people who have like-minded interests. We're all skiers, kayakers, and outdoorsy types."
During his first two years with the Club, Bowers was the lodge manager, which is a position that answers to the Board of Directors, enforces rules in the lodge, orders supplies and handles other matters related to the Club. In his third year with the Club, he was elected by the Board to become the treasurer.
Skidaddlers Get Started In Stoneham
The Club was established in 1957 as an incorporated, non-profit LLC when a handful of skiers got together in Stoneham, Mass. The group didn't own any land until 1962, when it purchased a hotel on the current site in Bartlett, NH on Route 302 W.
"Many of the surrounding clubs are located in former hotels, because they can accommodate a lot of people at the same time," said Bowers.
The Club wanted to have a place where people could go and sleep over. So if you're going to start a ski lodge, you want it near a ski mountain.
"I would assume that a lot of members had frequented Attitash Mountain and the North Conway area," said Bowers. "It was pretty much the happening spot for skiers back when it became popular in the 1930s, so I would think that many members went there on a regular basis anyway."
Ski Lodge Lost In Blaze
The Skidaddlers' lodge tragically burned down in 1965 and was rebuilt that same summer by a member who happened to be an architect.
Joining The Eastern Inter-Club Ski League
The Skidaddlers are part of an umbrella organization called the Eastern Inter-Club Ski League (EICSL). Bowers said that the EICSL is a "ski racing league set up on different mountains all around the area. It has different divisions and it's just like a little league or softball league."
The EICSL has more than 1,200 members around the Mount Washington area, according to the EICSL website.
The Skidaddlers use a small portion of their member dues from each member to pay dues to the umbrella group.
"The EICSL advocates for us, using their buying power to solicit discount lift tickets at the ski areas, for example, throughout the [Mount Washington] Valley," said Bowers.
Looking After The Lodge
The Skidaddlers raise money for the upkeep of the lodge, equipment and the like through membership dues and guest fees. The group charges $20 a night per guest who is sponsored by an existing member. "Guest fees and dues generate 85 percent of our money," added Bowers.
How To Become A Skidaddler
To become a member, interested individuals can talk to an existing Skidadd member like Bowers for more information. Individuals need to be sponsored by a current member, so this is a good way to find out more about the Club and see if it's a good fit.
Bowers said that typically someone will ask a friend if they know a good place to go skiing, and that friend will mention the Skidaddlers' Club in Bartlett. Or, if an individual doesn't have a specific sponsor or has found the group online and doesn't know anyone personally yet, one of the Club's current members will volunteer to sponsor that person. Then the sponsor will ask the individual to come to the lodge for two nights as a guest in order for everyone to get to know each other better. If the person is still interested in joining, they'll be asked to fill out an application form.
Ski Club Requirements
Along with the application, there are several requirements in order to join the group. First, the applicant has to be at least 21 years old. Second, the applicant must be single or divorced.
"It's the culture of our club and that rule can be changed by the Board at any time if they chose to change it," said Bowers. "If someone decides to propose that we allow married members, they certainly can."
The group does in fact grandfather members in if they joined while single and then subsequently got married.
"We have several members who have met their wives and husbands here," said Bowers. Coincidently, Bowers met his current girlfriend of nearly five years around the time he first joined the Club.
The third requirement, as Bowers joked is that "you have to have a pulse." If an applicant fulfils these requirements, the Board of Directors will vote on the person.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time no one has any problems with the applicant," said Bowers." Once he or she gets voted into the Club, we ask for $375 per year in member dues." Any guest fees that the applicant has incurred during that same season will go towards that first year's $375 balance.
The Life Of A Full Member
Bowers said that the Skidaddlers also require members to participate in at least one work weekend a year. The Club upkeeps the lodge itself and does all of the maintenance (like lawn mowing, painting and cleaning), so work weekends are a necessity.
The Skidaddlers currently have 28 full members and about 34 sustaining members. Bowers said that the group has "established two different types of memberships. A full membership entitles you to a key to the house, with access 365 days a year and a bunk inside that's assigned to you."
If a full member is not at the lodge for a particular weekend, the Club stipulates that if a full member chooses not to be at the lodge one weekend, that his or her bunk can be rented by a guest or a sustaining member. Sustaining members pay $10 per night, and any associated EICSL members pay that amount as well.
The lodge can sleep about 54 people, with four bunks to a room. Men and women are separated for privacy's sake, but there is an area in the attic where any couples who may want to stay together can sleep.
Wanted: Outdoor Enthusiasts
What if an individual who's interested in the Club isn't an avid skier? Don't worry—the Skidaddlers offer year-round activities for all walks of life. Almost all of the members hike, kayak, swim, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and go snowmobiling.
Bowers said that "it's a way for us to continue to keep active and to solicit new members who may not necessarily be skiers."
One of Bowers' new proposals to the Board is to try and entice motorcyclists to the group.
"Lots of people like to go up the Kancamagus Highway and it's such a beautiful area to ride," he said. "I'd like to promote people who ride motorcycles to join the Club and [the lodge] can be like a home base."
The Skidaddlers also get together in the middle of July and float down the Saco River together. Bowers admitted that the Club even has some shopaholic members because of the outlet stores in Conway.
"So if you want to be a shopaholic Skidadd member and come join us just to shop that's fine with us too," he said with a chuckle.
Along with outdoor activities, the group also performs public service throughout the year.
"We are a part of the community and it's very important for us to do some charity work," said Bowers. The group volunteers with local community efforts to pick up trash, for example. Members also hold a traditional seniors' dinner, which they prepare and serve themselves, every April.
Ski Club Stimulates The Economy
The Skidaddlers are part of the economy in the area as well.
"We will go and ask the local businesses, restaurants and ski resorts for raffle prizes, because we've got a perfect demographic for them to promote products, whether it's ski tickets or a sporting goods store's merchandise," said Bowers. "During group fundraisers, the group will get a business to donate a lift ticket or a dinner for two, for example, to the Skidaddlers.
"They get their name mentioned and we promote them by having their product out there with people who are actually going to use it on a daily basis."
Meet-Ups Growing In Popularity
"It's a perfect way to get your message out to exactly the right demographic that you're looking for," said Bowers.
Current members who live in Massachusetts also meet up at local pubs to watch bands or meet at each other's houses to watch football games.
"Ninety-five percent of us are from Massachusetts," said Bowers. "We use these meetings as a recruiting tool, because that way people don't have to go and spend a whole weekend in New Hampshire if they're not sure what they're going to find. They can meet us, hang out and chit chat, and then decide if they want to come up to the lodge."
For more information about the Skidaddlers Ski and Sports Club, visit the group's website.