About Mountain Area Ski School

History of MASS

The Mountain Area Ski School had it's beginning in 1961 with Norma Colbern, Connie Bladen, and Barbara Wolford as moms from the Oakhurst Elementary School  (OES) hauling their kids to Badger Pass for a day of skiing with the moms doing a little instruction.

 Norma, mother of three young children, knew that the kids living up in Yosemite got weekly ski lessons for practically nothing. Why not Oakhurst kids, she wondered. After being yo-yoed between Badger Pass management and a reluctant school principal, she succeeded in getting a special ski lesson rate and permission for her children to take off a half day of school. There were a total of nine children learning to ski along with the Yosemite kids that first year. It cost $2 for ski rental, lift ticket, and classes.

 The second year there were thirty students. The school was more cooperative, "As long as they had no demerits" they could go, and as long as they could find a ride. After two years, Yosemite said they had to get their own Instructors. "We scrounged for instructors," says Norma. Along with herself, there were Rudy and Max Stauffer and few others. They attended clinics to learn how to teach. Rudy Stauffer (Builder and original owner of the Yosemite Mt. Sugar Pine Railroad) saw this as an opportunity to teach our local kids the sport of downhill skiing and at the same time inspire them to achieve good grades and good deportment. He convinced the Badger Pass management that this would be beneficial to them to generate rental equipment income as well as introduce future ticket purchases to the sport. As the program built up more students, other schools wanted in, so by the fourth year (and a new, "skier friendly" principal) the school authorized school buses for transportation to Badger, and the Mountain Area ski School was given its official name.

 Sometime later, Rudy Stauffer left the area and turned the railroad and the MASS program over to his son, Max. Max was head of the program until about 1987. At that time, he resigned, and Calvin Lyster, with eleven years service, became his replacement and new Director of the MASS program. Under the guidance of Calvin Lyster, and Assistant Director Lee Halderman, the program has grown to over four hundred students (fifth through eighth grade), and to eighty plus volunteer instructors. All volunteer instructors must attend each year a teaching clinic to learn how to teach skiing. Besides down hill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding, has been added to the program. The students from nine mountain schools are bused to Badger Pass Ski area every Friday starting in January through March, for approximately twelve weeks. The Directors, who carry two-way radios for safety and the successof the program, monitor the instructors and students on the hill. The MASS program has becomea wonderful inexpensive way for Mountain area youths to learn how to ski.
Back to TOP

Our Organizers

  • Peter Leinau
  • Calvin Lyster
  • Tom Jones
  • Suzie Jones
Back to TOP


  • Our instructors are local volunteers, mostly parents whose children and their friends and schoolmates are in MASS themselves, or have been in the past. There are also school teachers, professional ski instructors, and retired folks who enjoy contributing to the youth in the community. As such, there is a high level of personal interest in the quality of instruction, the level of supervision, and the concern for safety. Also high on everyone's list is the desire for the students to have fun in a positive family environment.
  • Instructors attend an orientation class each year before the season starts to review the MASS rules and guidelines and get to know any new ones to the program. This is mandatory requirement for the first three years in the MASS program. Instructors are also required to attend a ski clinic each year, to brush up on personal skiing ability and review teaching techniques for various age groups and ability levels. An understanding of each step in the learning process is very important to the student's enjoyment and safe progression, and a sincere interest in each and every student is an absolute must. Back to TOP
  • Schedule

    • Instructor orientation is usually held in Late November or December.
    • The clinic is usually scheduled on the first Friday that Badger Pass is open.
    • Skiing with students starts the first Friday after Christmas/New Year vacation, and continues until the snow conditions become unuseable. There is a break in February during that school vacation as well.
    Back to TOP


    • The cost varies from year to year, usually going up slightly each year due to equipment rental and transportation costs. Back to TOP