The History of SCWDC
These are articles written by Howard Fisher, past president (click on link)
1986 Challenge (to the 2011 club)
2011 Challenge (to the 2036 club)
75th Anniversary Activities
In 1936, when skiing was still a “way out” thing, the Ski Club of Washington, D.C. was formed by a group of “let’s do it once” Washingtonians and some misplaced New Englanders with ski experience. The first Club trips were to Glencoe, PA, about 20 miles northwest of Cumberland, Md. The Board (Council) met midweek in winter to decide if there would be a trip. They notified the trip chairman, who called eight people; each calling eight more, until all 81 members were notified. They met at Union Station, took a train to Pittsburgh, then Glencoe. There were no lifts; it was walk-up herringbone and ski down. There were no warming huts, no restaurants. The town’s ladies sold sandwiches and coffee.
Ski instruction started in the earliest days of the Club, with the Dryland Ski School and informal on-slope instruction. Our Ski School expanded, and our amateur instructors became certified by the Amateur Ski Instructors of America.
The infant club published a monthly mimeographed sheet in winter, telling of the monthly meetings, equipment care, best buys, and notice of trips. Annual dues were $1.
The fall gave us trail and slope clearing trips as the Club opened up areas nearer home. There were exercise sessions for getting in ski-shape and an indoor dry course for teaching the correct stance, with practiced turns on rolled newspaper “skis”.
The Club’s first recorded ski race, an impromptu event in Shenandoah National Park.
Membership rose to 319. The Club installed a portable tow in Rock Creek Park to take advantage of local snow. There were weekend trips to Pennsylvania, and learn-to-ski weeks to Gray Rocks, Canada. A great milestone was the Board’s decision to have at least one monthly social event to provide better fellowship. So picnics, beach trips, and dances were inaugurated, followed by swim parties and fishing expeditions. Thus the Club progressed into a truly year-round organization.
Our first Social Committee formed, and sponsored recreational events as well.
The Club leased land at Cabin Mountain in Davis, W.Va. and developed a ski area (Canaan Valley today). In the summer and fall, trips for slope clearing, construction and maintenance. In winter, ski trips every weekend. The cost of lift tickets covered lessons given by member Amateur Instructors. The ski patrol was composed entirely of Club members. The Club conducted races with other clubs.
First tennis event - a round robin tournament in Rock Creek Park.
First Winter Carnival - at Cabin Mountain. It included slalom races, a costume obstacle race, parties, and a Winter Carnival Queen.
First beach weekend - the “Mad Hatteras” trip to North Carolina. Beach weekends would include follies such as beach Olympics, greased watermelon contests, and body painting.
Membership was 789, dues $5, with an 8-page color publication. Our club was the only experienced ski area operator in the “banana belt”, and was named the best ski club in the East. The Blue Ridge Ski Council (BRSC), consisting of clubs in the D.C, Maryland, and Virginia area, was formed by two SCWDC Past Presidents. Today, all Club members are also members of the BRSC, which continues to run multi-club ski trips each year.
1959 and 1961
The Club twice won the Best Ski Club award for the entire country. This competition with other clubs encouraged our club to round out its expanding programs with tennis, summer weekend trips, fall hiking, volleyball, skating, more parties, more dances, and a Winter Carnival banquet.
The Club expanded its ski horizons significantly. It went skiing in Europe for the first time, with the trip organized by the Pennsylvania Ski Federation (PSF), of which our Club was a member. Eastern bus trips locally and to New England were offered to members by a local tour operator.
The Cabin Mountain era ended, but a new era was gearing up. In January, the Club ran its first New England trip (Mt. Snow and Bromley, Vermont). In March, the Club ran its first European trip (Austria and Switzerland). The Club enjoyed its first ski fashion show in December, with models provided by the shops.
Summer tennis at Hains Point began. Weekly indoor volleyball started.
The Club published its first sizable ski schedule, with seven eastern ski trips in addition to access to trips run by the BRSC and PSF.
Membership was 2000, and would grow rapidly from here, with numerous new activities being introduced over the ensuing years.
In February, the Club ran its first western ski trip (Aspen and Vail). Sailing began, and soon became regularly scheduled.
Our first distant cross-country trip, this to Norway. Our first ski fashion show with our own models.
The Recreation Program was split off from Social, such was the success of these activities.
First tennis weekend at scenic Camp Wohelo, Pennsylvania.
The Club’s organizational structure changed significantly. The Directors gave up their operational role to focus on oversight. Other volunteers emerged as Program Chairpersons. With this change, came new ideas and renewed enthusiasm.
The Club received the Outstanding Ski Club (500+ members) Award from the United States Ski Association.
The Club purchased and moved into a three-floor office condominium on Lee Highway in Arlington.
In anticipation of the Club’s Fiftieth Anniversary, the History Project was established to research and publish a book of the Club’s history. To gather support, the Club hosted a reception for past presidents, most writing a chapter for the book.
The Club entered the computer age by purchasing a desktop computer.
The Club celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary. Events included a grand Kick-Off Party with over 1000 revelers, a VIP black-tie dinner for key volunteers going back to the Club’s beginnings, a Golden Anniversary Party, and other special events tied into some of our program activities from the past.
Membership passed 7000, and our Ski Club was the largest in the country. The membership peaked at 7054 in 1989. The Past Presidents Advisory Council was formed as an advisory resource.
The Club became smoke-free.
The Young Adults (21-30) Committee was formed to encourage younger adults to join our Club and hook up with each other. This committee would sponsor and co-sponsor activities that would appeal to this age group.
Sailing hopped to the Greek Islands for a two-week trip. The Young Adults Committee was renamed “20/30 Something”, thus redefining young adults. The name would change to “TNT” for Twenties ‘n Thirties the next year.
Learn-to-Ski Weekends with our own instructors began. This was in addition to the existing one-day Learn-to-Ski trips. Snowboarding became accepted, with a snowboarding instructor added to our ski school.
Our Sixtieth Anniversary year. We celebrated with a kickoff dinner in Union Station (where ski trips departed in 1936). Other anniversary events included a Ski Fest and a combination biking/sailing/walking tour activity. Sailing became further flung than ever with a trip to Tahiti.
The Club established its own internet web site, a location for up-to-date Club information, and where non-members could learn about the Club.
Hiking remained popular, and led to an excursion to Nepal, our most remote hiking event.
In a new adventure, the Club embarked on an Alaskan sea kayaking/hiking/camping trip.
BOD approved the use of credit cards to pay for ski trips.
On-line membership database was created, providing easier administration of membership records.
The club created a new web site based on the Joombla web environment.
The Policy Manual was changed by a membership vote to allow two non-skiers to serve on the Board of Directors. Also, new criteria was added to require the skiing members of the board to have skied in the last three years, to qualify as a candidate.
Membership meetings were moved from Tysons Westpark Hotel to the Crowne Plaza in the Tysons area, saving several thousand dollars.
The club ielebratied its 75th Anniversary by a series of events, including a January 75th Anniversary dinner and dance attended by 150 members and guests, a January ski trip to Canaan Valley (near a place where the club developed its own ski slope in the 50's), a ski trip to Beaver Creek where the Vail Resorts Management Company gave us a special party, and a September dinner and dance attended by about 140 members and guests.
The club ran an April Bike and Barge trip to the Netherlands for 24 members and a May weekend trip to Iceland for 22 members.
Membership meetings were moved from Tysons Crowne Plaza to the Crystal City Crowne Plaza, again, a cost saving measure, and also serving those members who wish to use the Metro.
The club is running a May trip to the Amalfi Coast for 24 members and is planning a September-October Bike and Barge trip to Belgium.
The Club is actively working on ways to make the web site a better asset to members . . . with more to come.
SCWDC has provided the environment and resources for a ton of good times . . . and continues. Its major strength lies in its ski programs, with a generous helping of other recreational and social events. Its success is due to the volunteers who have contributed so much in terms of organizing, leading, and doing the little things.