Beyond the slopes Ski Club members love their sport and a host of other activities, too

April 16, 1993|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

At the monthly meetings of the Columbia Ski Club, discussions can swing from the planning for the March of Dimes Walk-a-Thon to the prospects for the new softball season.

And if you stop by a meeting, don't be surprised if anyone asks you if you favor windsurfing, biking or tennis.

Such topics may seem unlikely chatter for a ski club. But this ski club, which boasts about 500 members from the Baltimore-Washington area (and one from Australia), has a penchant for more than downhills, lifts and apres ski.

The close of the ski season doesn't mean members go into hibernation until the first flurries of winter. In spring and summer, activities abound.

"We consider ourselves a year-round club, so we always have a very broad range of activities members can get involved in," says Susan Kennedy, activities coordinator.

The most popular off-season activities offered by the club, says Ms. Kennedy, are softball, bicycle trips, a bar-hopping trip in the Fells Point area of Baltimore aboard a bus, and an annual crab feast.

The crab feast, usually held in August, draws about 200 club members. As for softball, the club has no less than 17 teams competing in Howard County recreational leagues.

Other off-season activities organized by club members include canoeing and hiking expeditions, windsurfing near Annapolis, white water rafting trips, and forays to Baltimore for Orioles games.

"We're a lot more than just a ski club to most of our members," says Bill Eskew, the club's new president and a five-year club member. "The club is a way for friends to get together for activities throughout the year. I think that's one reason membership in the club is so stable. We still have a strong group of founding members."

He and Ms. Kennedy estimate as many as 50 of the club's founding members from 1982 still belong.

"A lot of people in the club are from outside the area, so the club becomes either a network or friends or even family to them. We do things for one another. It's an easy way to meet a network of active people," says Ms. Kennedy, who herself joined eight years ago to meet new friends who shared an interest in skiing.

While the ski season is in swing, the club offers other activities for members, from happy hour klatches or dances at Columbia-area night spots to volleyball on teams competing in local recreation leagues.

Club members can suggest virtually any type of activity -- from a day hike in the mountains to a museum tour -- and try to make it fly, says Ms. Kennedy.

The club provides members interested in organizing an activity with a guide that offers tips for determining how much the activity will cost, setting it up and drumming up support.

Once an activity is approved, it is listed in the club's monthly bulletin and added to a voice-mail recording on the club's phone number, 730-SNOW.

"I can't think of anything the club has seriously approached about doing as an activity that hasn't taken off," says Mr. Eskew. "What we undertake usually happens."

That strong participation in events is one reason he plans to make an effort to get the club involved in community goodwill projects.

Mr. Eskew is particularly interested in getting the club involved in helping disabled people participate in athletic activities.

At Monday's meeting, club members were encouraged to sign up to participate in the March of Dimes annual Walk-a-Thon on April 25 in Baltimore.

"People in the club get so much out of it that it's time we turn something back to the community as a group," says Mr. Eskew. "The way to do that is to bring our energy and enthusiasm to community related activities and needs."

All of this is not to say, however, that the club's primary reason for being isn't skiing, he says.

The club organizes, on average, 12 ski trips to destinations in the Eastern and Western United States, as well as weekend trips to local ski haunts. Periodically, the club offers trips to ski resorts abroad.

Meetings are held the second Monday of every month at the The Columbia Hilton on Twin Knolls Road. For more information call 730-SNOW.

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