Mercer Island’s Crystal Mountain ski bus program is a success because of our community. While the Northwest is experiencing a late winter blast in the mountains, our children have moved on to their spring sports. However, many of our kids not only have fond memories of this past 2010 ski season; they are also looking forward to next year’s season as well.
This opportunity for our youth, and for those parents who volunteer as chaperones, is second to none in the Northwest. Mercer Island children from Islander Middle School to Mercer Island High School have a time-honored opportunity to experience a total volunteer ski bus program to the Crystal Mountain ski resort. It is not well known that the MI ski bus program has been running since the late ’50s, and it is still going strong.
While the program began shuttling our community kids in those typical yellow school buses, our current generation commutes to Crystal Mountain in style via Gray Line buses with TV screens, bathrooms and concerned supervision by volunteer parents. Rumor has it that one of our own (Bill Ayers) is not only one of our key drivers today, but that he was one of the young pranksters on the very first ski bus to Crystal. Thank you, Bill, for the pay forward. You are a true citizen.
The program has grown from a single yellow school bus in the ’50s to eight buses in 2010, carrying more than 250 of our kids up to Crystal Mountain for six weeks of fun-filled Saturdays. For many of the middle school kids, this is the first time they have been to Crystal Mountain, let alone the first time they have been skiing or been responsible for themselves. It is absolutely a beautiful sight to see our kids succeed and grow independently, but more importantly, make new lifelong friendships with their peers.
However, this letter to the editor is not to promote the Crystal ski bus program, but rather to boast about all the volunteers that actually make it happen. The sustainable success of this program is based on years of community volunteers from the past to the present such as Doug and Carrie Rigby, Eulalie Sullivan, Tom Borer, Bret Graham and most recently Charles Greer. Not to mention the many passionate parents who assist on Saturday to ensure that our children are safe, have fun, and most importantly, provide for a truly unique experience for the next generation of MI kids.
Finally, I would be remiss not to point out that one of this year’s success stories was because our own Parks and Recreation Department allowed the program to utilize the East Mercer boat launch parking lot, of which they provided the program with its own dedicated parking signs and barricades. Thank you, Parks and Rec., thank you volunteers and thank you Mercer Island for supporting such a life lesson opportunity for our community and its students.
For those interested in next year’s program, go to www.CrystalSkiBus.com.