Camp Jewell, YMCA
N. Colebrook, CT

1965 -c1977

Memories ~ Recent Photos

Thanks to several NELSAP readers, we now know more about this ski area that operated at a YMCA camp. Here are their details on the area:


Colm Dobbyn: We recently stayed at Camp Jewell, a YMCA camp in Northwest CT, near Winsted.  They had a downhill ski area that closed in the 1970's.  They have a history of the ski operation  in the central building, including aerial pictures, ticket stubs, etc.

Mitchell Clure: I went to Camp Jewell for a few weeks in 1979. I was in the horseback riding camp and there were several trails that crisscrossed the former Camp Jewell ski hill. It looked like it consisted of two separate slopes each with a rope-tow lift.  I recall that the wheels for the lifts were still in place at the tops of both hills but that was about it.  There was also a building at the base of one of the hills that looked like it was lodge.  Camp Jewell has offered family retreats and other activities during the non-camp season and the facility is open year-round. So, I would assume that the skiing was offered as one of the wintertime sports for the visiting families and groups.

R. Davidson: Camp Jewell ski area was located in North Colebrook, very close to the MA border. Also called the Greater Hartford Outdoor Center.  It had two slopes, one small maybe 250 - 300 feet, and one larger maybe 500 feet. Both had rope tows and a warming lodge at the bottom. They did experiment with snowmaking at one time as I remember the pipes, but it didn't last long. The area depended on natural snow and it was packed down with snowmobiles.  It was a long hike down a road that vehicles weren't allowed on.  Many kids from this area learned to ski and skied there using wooden skis with cable bindings and many pairs of gloves from the rope tows.  I remember the price being $2.50 all day, this being around 1967 - 1968.


A view of the ski area, located on Lake Triangle.

Whitney Widger: My parents forwarded the page on lost CT ski areas. I read with great interest your page on the ski area at Camp Jewell in Colebrook, CT. I have virtually grown up at Camp Jewell. My first summer was when I was 7 years old and eventually I worked my way up to being a Counselor and eventually the LIT Director. My last summer working there was the summer of 1999. The ski hill is still recognizable but not in use. It has become very overgrown but the rope for the rope tow is still lying around. There are 2 buildings, one at the bottom and one at the top. Both buildings are still standing. I can remember going to that spot and believing the rumors that the lower building was haunted. Now, the ski hill is part of the Red trail coming down from the backside of Sunrise Mountain and the blue trail which treks around the lake, crosses its path at the bottom of the hill. The blueberries on the ski hill are so good! There have been many cabin challenges where my group would just go and pick blueberries and bring some back to camp to use in another project. The berries are some of the biggest I've seen if you can get to them before the animals or the other cabin groups! In the office building, and the Trading Post, there are old maps of what the ski hill used to look like and ticket stubs as well as old photos. A lot has changed between the date of that map and now. At Jewell, they offer off season groups to come in and use their facilities. Cross country skiing is the only type of skiing that is offered now. Camp Jewell has a place deep in the hearts of almost everyone who has ever attended a session at camp during the summer or a family camp or school group.

David K. Pilon: I am a Camp Jewell summer staff member in Colebrook, Ct.  It might be interesting to note that Camp Jewell routinely cuts back the brush on "the old ski hill" to create a meadow for animals.  It is also a nice camp site.  As a skier and snowboarder myself I have always been fascinated by "the old ski hill" at Camp Jewell.

Anne Coloma:  I grew up in the area and actually attended 1/2 yr. of nursery school at Camp Jewel (construction was going on at the firehouse where class was usually held).  I also went skiing on the hill there-probably one of my first rope tow experiences.  I used to hate the walk in.

Bill Cohn: I read with interest and fondness the accounts of skiing at Camp Jewell. In the late sixties I went to weekend ski camp there a couple of times. They had a wonderful program; I can confidently say that I learned to ski parallel there. We'd get a couple of hours instruction and then be let free to bomb up and down both slopes (the small slope very mellow). One memorable feature: From the roof of the warming hut at the base of the hill, there was a wooden toboggan chute that ran out on the frozen pond down the hill from the hut. It was a thrilling, almost scary ride and, with the very kid-friendly atmosphere, one of the reasons I loved Camp Jewell!

Scott Beavers: I learned to ski at the slopes at Camp Jewell from age 5 on up for several years. My father was the main person who helped create and implement the ski area.  This includes the rope tows, lodge, snow making, etc. He and a couple other folks probably have more knowledge of the early years there than anyone else alive! I lived at the camp each summer, as my dad was the Camp Director for the first 10 years of my life.

Allen Beavers: I am Allen Beavers and was the Executive Director of Camping Services from 1966 - 1976. My Associate, a Mr. Ambery Butcher, was the resident Director of the Outdoor center beginning in 1965 - when we first opened the Camp Jewell Ski Area. 

We first began making snow in 1966 when we purchased the snow making equipment from the "Satans Kingdom Ski Area" now know as "Sundown Ski Area" You are correct - there were two ski slopes - one 300 feet long and the other about 500 feet long. There was a Ski maintenance shop at the bottom, along with a two story warming shelter and snack bar. The two engines for both tows were at the top of the hills. ( This was one of the first such areas in Connecticut and Western Mass. and no-one told us to put the engine houses at the bottom ) We had to have a bulldozer push the fuel truck up the hill each fall to fill the tanks at the top of the hill ! WOW ! What a chore. 

This was the days when we screwed pieces of the ski metal sides onto the ski...and we didn't even know what a "buckle" ski boot was at that time. But we taught hundreds of children and adults how to ski. A Mr. Everette Rockwell, now also retired as principal of the Granville, MA Elementary School, who I believe lives with his wife "Mim" ( Nurse ) in Wolfboro, NH was in charge of operations on weekends at the ski school. A Mr. Dick Tracy was the head Ski Instructor. 

A. Mr. Charlie Hanscomb, who preceded me as Director of Camp Jewell began the building of the Ski area and it actually opened during 1965 - the last year he was director. He is now retired in Florida. The snow making construction was begun in 1965 but became operational during my first year - 1966.

I am also currently retired, but still sever as a Director on the Board of Directors for Camp Jewell. Snowmaking continued for quite a few years. We rented the compressors for a construction company, but we owned everything else. A Mr. Walter Schoenknecht  who later built Mt. Snow Ski area and Mohawk Mountain Ski area was the volunteer Chairman of the Camp Jewell Ski Program and guided us in the construction. He was also one of the first Chairmen of the former Connecticut Governors' Tourism Council and the current CT Tourism Council still gives out an annual scholarship in his name to this day. His daughter, Carol Lugers currently operates Mohawk Mountain Ski area and was just a child when her father helped us to build the Camp Jewell Ski area. 

The area closed around 1977.

Mary Beth Cosgrove: Talk about reliving your youth.  I grew up in West Hartford, Ct and on numerous weekends would take a school bus from the YMCA in West Hartford Center out to Camp Jewell.   The trip was probably about 40 minutes from WHC but seemed like hours.  I learned to do a stem-christy at Camp Jewell.  There were cabins that we stayed in, separate ones for the girls and boys.  It was 1966-70 and I was 8 when I first attended.   I can't remember the meals but the accommodations came with breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We would arrive Friday late afternoon, and sometimes we would go to the movies in Colebrook there was a single movie theatre that I picture as if it were yesterday.  It was just like the ones you see from the 50's with all the light bulbs.  We would get up Saturday and have a lesson in the morning and then free skiing in the afternoon.  We would do the same Sunday and then head back on the bus Sunday evening.   I can close my eyes and see my hand knitted mittens shredded by the rope tow.  I would take them off and change hands to try and get a few more runs in, before I would be skiing barehanded.   I can remember a scarf  getting wrapped around the rope and fortunately it wasn't wrapped around my neck, I got the scarf when it came back on the way down the slope.  I remember being cold/ wet the whole weekend.  I had yellow  wooden skis with cable bindings and leather boots the laced up like ice skates.   I am so happy to have the opportunity/and a place to share these memories.

Recent Photos

Scott Beavers took the following photos in the summer of 2010, showing what is left of the ski area. Click on each for a larger version.

What's left of the rope tow abutment and fuel tank of the small (lower) rope tow,
Remnants of the upper lift terminal.Upp

Upper lift terminal remnants and fuel tank.

This view is looking up what was the big hill / run from near where the lodge stood.

The lower slope. - You can't see it, but the bottom of the small slope is just about right on the bank of Triangle Lake, Camp Jewell's lake.

This view is looking down the big hill from near the top of the big hill.

Has anybody else skied here before and has historical photos? If so, let us know!

Last updated: Dec 3, 2010

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