Camillus Ski Association gears up for season

The annual Camillus Ski Association ski sale is sure sign of the coming winter, but this year the CSA will need more than snow to run a smooth season the East Hill Ski Area.

The volunteer-run ski hill and lodge are in need of more people willing to donate some winter hours to benefit the community. Volunteer help is needed both on the hill and in the ski lodge, and there are positions available for both ski or snowboard enthusiasts, or those who would rather stay off the slopes.

Of 64 volunteers who signed up for hours last year, fewer more than 30 showed up to help, said Ann Schmutzler, who has volunteered with CSA for 43 years.

The East Hill Ski Area, owned by the town and operated by Camillus Ski Association, has seen generations of local families learn to ski and snowboard, said Vern Kauffman, who has volunteered with the CSA for almost 20 years.

Many current volunteers learned to ski on the hill, and now can say the same for their children and grandchildren.

"This side of town doesn't realize how fortunate they are to have a place like this," said John Goodfellow, owner of Four Seasons in Fayettville. "It's such an unusual and rare opportunity for people, it's unheard of."

Goodfellow said the combination of town-owned and town-operated ski area is rather unique to the Camillus area and he has not seen anything like it throughout the state.

Because East Hill does not make its own snow, it is totally dependent on the weather, said CiCi Sauda, who learned to ski on the hill in junior high and now volunteers with CSA. But this year, the CSA will open Ski School earlier than in past seasons, beginning on Dec. 6. Sauda said last season the hill was open for a matter of weeks, because the typical start date is not until after New Year's and the area received little snow after January. For the upcoming winter, the CSA will open earlier to try and get a few weeks of lessons in before the mid-winter thaw.

Lessons run Saturday mornings. To register for CSA Ski School, pickup an application at the ski lodge at East Hill or Camillus Parks and Recreation Department at Shove Park. Ski School participants and CSA season ticket holders will receive reduced lift ticket and rental prices at Song Mountain in Tully.

If you would like to volunteer with the CSA, contact Schmutzler at 487-1657. Volunteers and their families ski for free at East Hill. Instructors must be 14 years old, all other volunteers must be 18.

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