Volunteers work to ensure Caribou ski program continues

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou recreation department wasn’t able to place an order for new skis this year after learning a couple weeks ago that one of the largest ski equipment manufacturing facilities in Europe was demolished by a fire. In response, half a dozen volunteers stepped up to ensure that the ski program could continue smoothly.

Caribou Parks and Recreation Program Director Neal Sleeper said the department typically places an order for about 10 pairs of skis every season to keep up with equipment that gets damaged. But since they were no longer able to place this order, he said several people showed up to help out. 

“We had six volunteers from the community show up, Curtis Richards, Rob Kieffer, Jordan and Justin Powers, Brent Jepson and Daryl Hitchcock,” he said. On April 6, the volunteers applied storage wax on all of the department’s skis, repaired all their broken equipment such as damaged ski poles and bindings, and even repaired and washed broken ski boots.

Throughout the years, the department has received roughly 80 pairs of skis and has bought more equipment to keep up with increasing demand. Much of the equipment was donated to the city by the Northern Skiers Ski Club about 10 years ago, so local kids could have an opportunity to rent them and stay active during the winter months, Sleeper said.

In an email to the volunteers, Sleeper said they had an unprecedented amount of equipment rented and returned in early April, and that the help ensures the equipment will be ready to go for the next season. He said they are already looking forward to fall rentals night on Nov. 18.

“Much of this equipment is knocking on 10 years old,” he wrote to the volunteers. “The work that goes into keeping this equipment up to speed helps keep the overhead low and affordable for the youth in our community to have skis to ski on.”

He said that he was happy to see local volunteers come together for the cause. 

“The volunteers have a strong connection with this program and see the value in helping the kids in our community,” Sleeper said. “They’re very passionate about kids being active and healthy outdoors in the winter.

CARIBOU, Maine — April 6, 2021 — After learning that the city rec department wouldn’t be able to put in a new order of ski equipment this season, half a dozen volunteers came out the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center on April 6 and worked to ensure that the ski program would be able to continue this year. (Courtesy of Neal Sleeper)