Where We Started
In June 1989, Bruce Lessels, Karen Blom & Peter Franzoso founded Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort on the Moses Rice property – the oldest property in Charlemont, Massachusetts.
Earlier in 1989, Bruce Lessels flipped during a training run at the US Whitewater Team trials. With the realization that his whitewater racing days were over, the idea of starting an outdoor center was born out of a series of conversations and brainstorms with Bruce’s good friends on drives to the Zoar Gap rapid on the Deerfield River. This outdoor center became Zoar Outdoor.
Zoar began as a rafting & paddle sport company with the goal to create experiences that enhanced the lives of their guests, and provide the best human-powered outdoor adventures available. As a result, Zoar’s Paddlesport School became one of the best in the country.
Karen and Bruce had a passion for the outdoors. They lived and worked on the river and were always looking for new ideas and activities to create new experiences for guests. In previous years, Zoar offered a variety of outdoor activities: XC Skiing, Rock Climbing clinics, Bike Rentals, and Guided Standup Paddleboard & Sea Kayak excursions and rentals.
Currently, Zoar is continuing to offer zipline canopy tours, paddlesports clinics, whitewater rafting trips, guided rental kayaks, camping and on-site lodging.
In 2009, the Zipline Program was built. This was inspired by an adventurous trip to Costa Rica and was the first zip line canopy tour in southern New England.
Bruce & Karen poured their hearts and souls into the business, working hard to create a place that was guided by core values that have made Zoar what it is today. Because of this, Zoar grew into a prominent outdoor center in the beautiful mountains of Western Massachusetts.
After over three decades of hard work & creating adventures for thousands of people, Bruce & Karen decided it was time for them to pursue their new adventure into retirement.
Where We Are Now
In 2020, The Schaefer family bought Zoar Outdoor. The Schaefer’s have a long history of owning their own resort across the river: Berkshire East. A family run business that has been passed down from one generation to the next, they have a passion for continuing to bring people to Charlemont, Massachusetts to recreate and create adventures. Berkshire East is a ski resort in the winter, and in the spring, summer, and fall they have many adventures available: zip lining, whitewater rafting, aerial adventure park, mountain coaster, lodging and camping, and one North America’s premier downhill mountain bike parks.
Both Zoar and Berkshire East have a strong commitment to renewable energy and to our local community. Learn more about this at Berkshire East & Zoar Outdoor by clicking the buttons below!
We are looking to the future with excitement with Schaefer Family Resorts & the possibilities on the horizon!