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We've been around for almost a tenth of a century. Actually, that's just 10 years. We're not sure where this picture came from, but some of these folks may resemble our original members and staff.
Although we call ourselves the Farmington Ski Club, it wasn't always that way. In fact, when you ski with us, your credit card statement will read "Dunckel & East Ski Club LLC". That's our legal name. Here's how we got to where we are today:
The Dunckel & East Ski Club was formed in the fall of 2010. The idea came from an East Middle School parent who wanted to form a ski club. A Dunckel parent suggested that by combining the two schools, they might be better able to fill a bus on Friday nights. There was some concern that there would not be enough interested students to make the program viable. That turned out to be an unrealistic concern.
In our first year, the combined ski club had 165 members, comprised of 7th and 8th grade students at Dunckel and East. Including siblings, there were over 500 skiers taken to Mt. Brighton that season. At the end of the year, we took a survey of our members. The overwhelming majority wanted to go to Alpine Valley the following year.
There were some significant changes and improvements after our first year in operation. We began this program as a joint venture of the two PTSAs. Over the summer of 2011, we became the Dunckel & East Ski Club LLC, a Michigan non-profit corporation. We are NOT an official school club. We are an all-volunteer, independent club serving our schools. We use Farmington Public Schools buses for our trips each week, and the FPS Student Code of Conduct applies to all students when on our trips.
Processing hundreds of checks and forms every week had been a substantial burden for both PTSAs, and our budget ended up being larger than theirs. Our newly formed Board of Directors set about to streamline the process for the following year. In the 2011-12 season, all trip reservations and payments were handled online via credit or debit card. This eliminated the need for parents to send in checks on Wednesday mornings, and for our club to find parents to process the hundred-plus forms and checks we received every week.
At times, we had to delay one of our busses when departing the mountain while we searched for one or more students who were unaware of the time. To help us to identify our skiers on the slopes, and stay closer to scheduled departure times, we use dayglo-fluorescent arm bands. All of our chaperones carry two-way radios to communicate with each other. This is especially helpful when looking for missing students or if medical attention is required. All of the information you provide us with during registration is available to our chaperones via smart phone or tablet, in real-time at the mountain. In 2011-12, we also welcomed students from Our Lady of Sorrows to our club.
During the 2012-13 season, the use of helmets for snowboarders went from suggested to mandatory. We also added grades 5 & 6 to the mix, which meant more students from Our Lady of Sorrows, and two more new schools, Warner and Power. When the 5th grade students in Farmington Schools moved back to the elementary schools, we went back to serving grades 6-8.
In the 2013-14 season, we expanded the mandatory helmet requirement to all students (skiers and snowboarders), and we had our first concussion-free season! We purchased new larger arm bands to make it even easier to spot our students, and worked with the high school ski teams to share a racing experience with interested students.
We are now the largest group at Alpine Valley. We purchased over 1,000 lift tickets in the 2014-15 season, and had no serious injuries. Alpine Valley gives us our own private room in their lodge, and we threw a mid-season pizza party for 140 kids. We now have 3 All You Can Eat Pizza Parties for members and guests throughout our season included in the membership. The High School Ski Team helps chaperone some of our trips. They also bring a race course one week so interested students can give it a try.
Our goal is to make the middle school ski club experience one that your child will remember for a lifetime. We want the kids to have fun, and be safe. We have a new President beginning with the 2015 season, Ken Trent. Ken has been with us since the very first trip to Mt. Brighton in 2010, and is looking forward to doing this for many years to come. The rest of us old-timers (below) are sticking around at least one more year to help out with the transition. If you have any thoughts or concerns, please feel free to contact us through the web site.
Richard Lerner - Bruce Williams - Ken Trent - Dan Blugerman - Brad Hanpeter - Nathan Hickling
P.S. We are always looking for parent volunteers. No prior skiing experience required. If you would like to help out, on or off the slopes, we want you!