Winters are long in Maine, but we need to find ways to get our children outdoors. Skiing and snowboarding are part of our state’s DNA, bringing Mainers to the great outdoors and closer with family and friends.

The proof is in the pudding. Maine’s ski industry delivers an annual economic impact of $300 million, employing more than 2,000 workers and supporting them with more than $10 million in wages. In rural counties, winter sports provide financial security that few other industries can match.

This is especially true in Franklin and Somerset counties, where Sugarloaf Mountain towers over local communities and its world-famous ski resort attracts visitors from far and wide. However, for the Mainers who live in those two counties, access to winter sports is hardly a foregone conclusion. Many residents of towns like Eustis, Farmington, Kingfield, Skowhegan and Rangeley simply cannot afford the lift tickets, clothing and equipment necessary to ski and snowboard at the 4,237-foot mountain in their backyard.

Shouldn’t our children, of all people, be able to take advantage of our state’s natural wonders?

To that end, the Sugarloaf Ski Club – a Maine-based nonprofit organization – is actively making winter sports affordable and sustainable for the residents of Franklin and Somerset counties, which have always provided our ski resort with an idyllic backdrop during the winter months. Since 1950, the Sugarloaf Ski Club has supported the Maine children who enjoy our offerings, such as local schools’ ski-skate programs and winter-long weekend training programs.

Today, our goal is to enable even more children across Franklin and Somerset counties to take part in skiing and snowboarding through our King’s Kids Fund. The late King Cummings, the beloved chairman of Sugarloaf’s board of directors in the 1970s and 1980s, strongly believed that everyone should have a chance to be a part of the winter sports that they love. He loved Sugarloaf dearly, and he loved the people who lived and worked in the area.


Providing access to the winter sports that he himself loved meant everything to King, and he hoped to share it with as many of his fellow Mainers as possible. In his name, we established King’s Kids to preserve skiing and snowboarding for the locals being squeezed out by high entry costs and other factors. First established as a $500,000 nonprofit fund, Sugarloaf Ski Club has raised an additional $250,000, and we hope to raise $2 million on behalf of local skiers and snowboarders in the near future.

The bottom line is this: If skiing becomes a sport for the wealthy and only for the wealthy, then it simply won’t be accessible to many Mainers. That’s why we are committed to seeing King’s Kids reach new heights.

Laying a foundation for children now will yield invaluable benefits for them later in life. Skiing and snowboarding can bring you closer to your family or introduce you to new friends – perhaps even friends for life. They can push you to exercise during the winter months. They can provide you with a good-paying job or the opportunity to mentor others.

But even that isn’t enough. That’s why the Sugarloaf Ski Club has provided some form of financial aid to more than 1,000 local children already. On average, we assist 60 children per year, while also donating money to local schools to help them with their skiing and snowboarding programs. Last winter season, with the new King’s Kids Fund and in conjunction with the Sugarloaf Ski School, the Sugarloaf Ski Club subsidized the Boomauger program, which exposed an additional 61 local children to learn-to-ski-or-snowboard programs that would have otherwise been inaccessible to them.

If we expose enough children to winter sports, it may give them another reason to stay in Maine, working and raising their families where they grew up. One day, they could even work in our ski industry.

Only by giving our children a reason to stay in rural counties can the state economy hope to reach its full potential. With them staying home, Maine can truly remain the special place we all know and love.

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