The History of the Middle Ski Trip

Collier Zug, Staff writer

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of a special annual tradition in the Middle School. There are very few serious professional sports in Delaware, let alone winter sports. It barely snowed at all these last few years. There is no skiing or snowboarding in Delaware, except for the Middle School Ski Trip. This annual trip that is only in the Middle School, takes well over 50 kids to Blue Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. In the cold and snowless winter, skiers love the trip because it’s one of the only times they’ll get to ski that year. The new kids love it too because they get to hang out with their friends and do something new. 

Way back when in the late 70’s the ski trip was actually for the Upper School. There was an informal trip in the winter when upper schoolers would take a trip up to Stowe, Vermont, and ski a big ski resort. During Presidents Day weekend, students would spend the entire weekend up there skiing. That all ended when there was a formalized middle school trip created in 1982.

According to the Friends Archivist, In 1982, the Middle Ski Trip was formalized. Gale Reinhart, an MS faculty member, started it. The first location was at Spring Mountain PA. With a vertical drop of 450 feet. It’s small, to say the least. Back then, some 170 people went every year because the trip was so popular, according to Mr. Bernstein, former MS History teacher (and chaperone for the US ski trip in 1980 and 81.).For about 17 years, it was there until things got a little crowded. In one of the last years that the trip happened there, an astonishing 5000 people were hittin’ the slopes. Apparently, a little middle schooler was going to a lift, when, 10 feet from the lodge, he was mowed over. He broke his arm. After that, the trip was run on the report writing day that was created for the teachers in late January. Later in the late ‘90s, the location was changed to Blue Mountain, where it still is today. A bigger lodge, more convenient access for new skiers, and tubing and snowboarding, made it an ideal choice. 

It was run by the faculty and staff for many years, and the former Head of the Middle School, Bill Neff went on it along with Helen Thompson, current Dean for Students in the MS. That ran smoothly for a couple of years until there was a need for a report writing day after the first semester ended in January. They were eventually combined with the help of the parents organizing the Ski Trip. Now the parents run it as a separate trip from the school, but with school support. All the amazing memories and experiences couldn’t be possible without the parents who organize it. 

The Middle School Ski Trip is so special because of the friendships and bonds that are created. They’re what make it one of the most influential field trips in the school. It’s a core reason for the trip, and it’s special because it brings people from different friend groups together. Since skiing is such a rare sport for people living in Delaware, the athletic jocks might look silly on the slope and it makes the odds a lot better for people who don’t feel as popular. Doing something completely new, (for an astonishing ⅔ of the kids that go) and doing it together can make kids more open to the idea of trying a new sport. “It was a healthy outdoor experience in Winter,” says Bill Neff, former head of the Middle School. The whole trip is an adventure for all the kids involved. To do something new and exciting is important in itself for your growth as a person and a learner, but to do it with friends is something greater. “My greatest joy is seeing the expansion of friend groups.,” says Mr. Huxtable, Head of Middle School. 

Something cool is that the trip had former high school students come back and chaperone. It takes a considerable amount of work to put together this awesome experience for the students. On top of that, it’s organized by parents, who have other jobs. Something exceptional is that the parents enable anyone to go on the trip, regardless of financial background.

The ski trip started 39 years ago and was originally at Spring Mountain in Pennsylvania. Even before that there was a planned Upper School ski trip to Stowe. Now there’s no awesome winter event that the Upper Schoolers can look forward to.“I definitely think we should have one in the high school,” says Grace Terrell, ‘24. For the reasons above and the fact that the upper school is by design harder and therefore more stressful for students, a really fun bonding activity that you can share with your friends would be very welcome. “When you come back, you have a greater feeling of inclusion and belonging as a result of having a shared experience,” says Mr. Huxtable. During this time, when belonging matters so much, a ski trip would be wonderful.