Skip to main content

New Life for a Nonprofit

Nov 20, 2015 06:15AM ● Published by Erica Shames

Gallery: Business Life - Crystal Lake, Winter 2015 [10 Images] Click any image to expand.

Crystal Lake Ski Center is situated on 960 acres, featuring 25 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails with set tracks, and five miles of snowshoeing trails created over glacial moraines. No, the ski center is not in Colorado; it’s located in Hughesville, Pa.

In operation since the 1970s, Crystal Lake Ski Center recently was purchased by Crystal Lake Camps, a non-profit 501(c)(3). After one year under new ownership, the ski center’s popularity is on the rise, according to Crystal Lake Camps executive director Nathan Bowen, who has lived on the property since 2008. But its future was not always certain.

A look back in time

From 1948 to 2002, the property was owned by the Alford family, who founded a private youth summer camp—what Bowen calls “the heart and soul” of Crystal Lake Camps—and started a downhill skiing operation.

The ski center expanded to incorporate cross-country ski trails developed over old logging roads, and it grew into a noteworthy location for cross-country skiing.

“The terrain is the best I know of within a thousand miles,” said Michael Gross, a physician and member of the Crystal Lake Ski Center ski advisory committee who has skied and volunteered at the ski center for several decades.

Gross and his wife moved to the area in the mid-1970s and had cross-country skied in the various places they have lived. “I moved here without any notion that I’d be able to find skiing and, all of a sudden, it appeared like a mirage out of the desert,” he said. “It’s a treasure.” 

The right thing to do

In 2002, the Alford family sold the property to Crystal Lake Camps, but Dorothy (Dottie) Alford maintained a lifetime lease to own and operate the ski center as a for-profit business. When her daughter Anna Alford assumed operation several years later, the future looked bright.

That prosperity was short-lived. “After three years,” said Gross, “very tragically, Anna died.” In 2012, responsibility for running the ski center returned to her elderly mother.

“You could see there just wasn’t much business,” added Bowen. “There was a core group of skiers who loved it, but it needed more.”

In 2014, Crystal Lake Camps purchased Crystal Lake Ski Center, making the ski center an arm of the non-profit organization. Though Bowen admitted to some trepidation on his part, and that of the Crystal Lake Camps board of directors, they felt it was the right thing to do.

“We saw the need for the ski center as our community recreational asset. We wanted to shepherd that as well as keep in line with the other activities we had going on at our facility,” said Bowen. 

Vital link

The transition may not have been possible without the assistance of STEP AmeriCorps, a program that partners with non-profit organizations and schools in Clinton, Tioga and Lycoming counties to provide AmeriCorps service members to perform critical roles within these organizations.

“The goal of the program is to have STEP AmeriCorps members work with non-profit organizations to build their internal and external capacity through partnership development and program implementation,” said Rachelle Abbott, chief operations officer at STEP, Inc.  

Through this program, STEP AmeriCorps service member Sue Stackhouse is serving her second year as outreach coordinator for Crystal Lake Ski Center.

“They [previous owners] didn’t have an individual like Sue who spent dedicated time every week out in the community handing out flyers, talking to people,” Bowen said. “That’s a huge benefit.” 

Taking it to the streets

One service is “Skis to Schools,” through which ski center members take cross-country skis to elementary schools to allow students to try the skis and learn about the sport.

“We’ll do it for Scouts, too,” said Stackhouse. “It’s a way to get children involved in winter recreation and introduce them to the sport.”

Bowen said they’ve reached more than 1,000 children this way, and he witnessed “a handful of families” who visited the ski center because their children had participated in the program. “We’re trying to be very customer service focused and receptive and warm to everyone who comes in,” he said.

Ski conditions are updated on the ski center’s Web site every morning, food delivery from local restaurants can be arranged, and Stackhouse continually works to gather feedback, partner with other non-profit organizations and ski groups, and share information via social media channels, email lists, local and national publications, and outfitters and businesses within and beyond Sullivan and Lycoming counties. 

The turnaround

Bowen has seen positive results. “I certainly saw what felt to me like an increase in traffic,” he said. “Even the energy around [the ski center] is different.”

His goal is to make Crystal Lake Ski Center financially sustainable before considering expansion. In the first year after the purchase, he witnessed countless efficiencies and is now confident that the best course of action was taken.

“It’s clear that the ski center should stay around for a long time,” he said. “Having it used by the community is hugely important to me, and I’m really glad we did it.” 

Written by Tara Caimi, an author, freelance writer and editor living in State College. 

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Susquehanna Life's free newsletter to stay informed

Outdoors, Today In This Issue nonprofits recreation sports winter 2015 skiing business life
  • chttp://engage.pcad.edu/winter2018

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Young Artists Academy for Grades 6.7.8.9 YS13, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10a.m. - 12 p.m....


  • Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3 YS11, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5 YS12, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10...


  • Intergenerational Drawing (8 & up)

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Intergenerational Drawing (8 & up) CE 189, Saturday, January 27 - March 3 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Short Story Writing

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Short Story Writing CE 208, Saturday, January 27 - March 3 (no class on February 24) 10 a.m. - ...


  • Grossology Lab

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Session A 10-11a.m. Session B 11a.m.-noon. Join the Bloomsburg University Biology Club for an ...


  • "The Blues Show"

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    What does "blue" mean to you? Make work that shows it -- the color blue, Blues music, blue in th...


  • The Demuth Foundation is pleased to announce its exhibition, A Moment in Time: Portraits of Lanca...


  • Dancing the Can-Can, Charles Demuth in Paris

    02/24/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    The Demuth Museum’s first exhibition of 2018 will be our annual Invitational, showcasing the work...


  • Grossology Lab

    02/24/2018
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    Session A 10-11a.m. Session B 11a.m.-noon. Join the Bloomsburg University Biology Club for an ...


  • Adobe InDesign

    02/26/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe InDesign DES 154, Monday & Wednesday, January 29 - February 28 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit,...


  • Illuminated Letters

    02/26/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Illuminated Letters CE 206, Monday, January 29 - February 26 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $195 Matt Chapma...


  • Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13

    02/27/2018
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13 YS 40, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m....


  • Books Undone

    02/27/2018
    11:00AM — 07:00PM

    Books become the canvas for contemporary artists in this national juried exhibition. Exhibition i...


  • Homeschool Physical Education

    02/27/2018
    01:00PM — 02:00PM

    Students engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity through a variety of enjoyable game...


  • Intro to Social Media Marketing

    02/27/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Social Media Marketing SM 101, Tuesday & Thursday, January 30 - March 1 6 p.m. - 9 p.m...


  • Business Practices for Creatives

    02/27/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Business Practices for Creatives DES 200, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., 1 c...


  • HTML5 & Website Design

    02/27/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    HTML5 & Website Design DES 155, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit, $475 ...


  • Drawing (Portrait & Figure)

    02/27/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Drawing (Portrait & Figure) CE 91, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Evan ...


  • Acrylic Painting and Mixed Media

    02/27/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Acrylic Painting and Mixed Media CE 238, Tuesday, January 30- March 6 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $215 Ju...


  • Books Undone

    02/28/2018
    11:00AM — 07:00PM

    Books become the canvas for contemporary artists in this national juried exhibition. Exhibition i...


  • Homeschool Hangout

    02/28/2018
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    Every other Wednesday 11-1p.m. during the school year beginning Jan. 17th-Apr. 25th.Parent/child ...


  • Reading with Reptiles

    02/28/2018
    11:30AM — 12:00PM

    Join us on February 28, March 14, and March 28 at 11:30am for a reptile-related reading! Get comf...


  • Adobe InDesign

    02/28/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe InDesign DES 154, Monday & Wednesday, January 29 - February 28 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit,...


  • Typography for Business: How Type Enhances your Brand WS 92, Thursday, March 1 9 a.m. - 12 p.m...


  • Books Undone

    03/01/2018
    11:00AM — 07:00PM

    Books become the canvas for contemporary artists in this national juried exhibition. Exhibition i...


  • iMAKE

    03/01/2018
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. String ...


  • Intro to Social Media Marketing

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Social Media Marketing SM 101, Tuesday & Thursday, January 30 - March 1 6 p.m. - 9 p.m...


  • Intro to Video Production & Short Film

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Video Production & Short Film DES 178, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.,...


  • Design Principles & Typography

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Design Principles & Typography DES 150, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credi...


  • The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition CE 239, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $...


  • Oil Painting

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Oil Painting CE 169, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Michael Allen Ex...


  • 71st Annual PA Maple Festival

    03/17/2018
    09:00AM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...


  • 71st Annual PA Maple Festival

    03/18/2018
    09:00AM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...


  • 71st Annual PA Maple Festival

    03/21/2018
    09:00AM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...


  • 71st Annual PA Maple Festival

    03/22/2018
    09:00AM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...


  • 71st Annual PA Maple Festival

    03/23/2018
    09:00AM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...


  • 71st Annual PA Maple Festival

    03/24/2018
    09:00AM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...



PROUDLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY THESE COMMUNITY SPONSORS


Weis Center for the Perfoming Arts
Geisinger Medical Center