The topic of snowmobile club involvement can sometimes spark debate of a strength and velocity that can only be likened to religious debates. Snowmobilers in general are a passionate people, sometimes a little higher strung than the average bear. We take our sport seriously and we will fight fiercely against those who try to shut us down.
You want club support? Here are some surefire ways to get things rolling.
- Be effective. A stagnant club is worse than no club at all, for if your club fails to make a difference in your community or in the sport in general, it is absolutely ineffective. Many have turned away to the concept of club involvement when they see no value in it. Meetings for the sake of meetings and committees that make nothing happen are a waste of everyone’s time. Focus and concentrate your club’s efforts on what truly matters: maintaining land, education, maintaining trail systems and cabins, and contributing to the sport in general are some of the reasons clubs exist. If you want a social club, join a quilting club or bridge club. if you want to contribute to the sport, ensure your club’s effectiveness by pitching in and making change happen.
- Be a presence in your community. Through outreach within the community, attendance and support of local events and media releases, show your community what your club’s accomplishments and goals are. Some may have little insight into the purpose of a snowmobile club, so it is your job as club members to set a positive example and represent the positive face of today’s rider. Participate in celebrations. A well-represented parade float may be more powerful than you think. Who are the faces of today’s rider? Don’t leave them wondering. Show the world the men, women, children, husbands, wives, grandmas and grandpas who are riders. We are many and we are thankful for the right to ride.
- Be fun! Events are a huge attraction for newbie club members. Ultimately it can’t all be land rights and caribou battles. Petty politics amongst ourselves and nitpicking does not help the sport we all love and cherish. There has to be an element of fun. Poker runs, hill climb events, youth activities, movie premiere fund raisers, the list goes on. Bring some woo-hoooo in to your club and you’ll see yourself celebrating with many. Advertise and network your events well. It does more harm than good to give an event with a pathetic attendance than no event at all. Who wants to be seen as pathetic or unpopular? Social networking, media, word of mouth and a positive attitude from club members are all ways to ensure your event’s success. Fun matters!
- Be understanding. Some simply will not join; this is a fact of life. As much as you’d like to reach out and high five them in the forehead, don’t. More people have been turned off by aggressive, demanding club members than have been strong-armed in. While numbers are important, active, engaged, positive numbers are more important. Horror stories of club members behaving badly plague many clubs, as riders were threatened and chastised publicly for not joining. I shudder when I hear these stories. If your club follows along a productive path, you will build value and spark membership.
- Be encouraging. Club numbers are a wonderful way to give presence politically and bring the funds necessary to maintain and grow our ride areas. Encourage people to join by explaining what your club has to offer. You’ll see groups of people eager to join your club when you meet them with an encouraging, positive attitude.
- Network with other clubs and try to support their efforts and events. Again, the goal is strength in numbers. Sharing of clubs and events on Facebook is a great way to use social networking to your advantage.
- Grow your riders. Reaching out and mentoring youth in skill and education is a wonderful way to ensure the longevity of not only your club but your sport. Encourage shredding kids to attend meetings and help them to feel like they belong and have a voice. Our youth riders are so incredibly eager to excel. Let’s help them do so.
- Respect other winter enthusiasts. Knowing that some non-motorized recreationists want to shut us down completely can create feelings of resentment, especially if we are in the same winter play zone. Encourage your club members to be the bigger person and respect the space and attitude of others. Trust me, I’ve had to resist the urge to give well timed roosting when I was given the stink eye by a hiker or backcountry skier who obviously loathed my existence. In one situation I was actually snowmobiling up to my home after work. A lady was on the trail walking her dog and started to give me the disgusted stink eye face, letting me know how she felt about my two-stroke smoke and sport in general. I stopped and sparked a conversation about her dog, then through conversation let her know that I was going home to my family after a hard day of work. She looked shocked. I saw her several times after that and we developed a friendship, which eventually led to her participating in the Take a Newbie Shredding activity on Facebook. She has yet to go riding, but she now has a new perspective on our sport and the people who enjoy it. There is enough room for all of us—respect everyone out there, and try to find common ground. We all appreciate the ability to enjoy our winter wonderland.
- Be extra responsible with land stewardship and long term relations. Although not an officially closed area, some cutblocks need a little bit of time for their seedlings to become strong, so avoid newly planted blocks. Dialogue with your local logging companies so you know where they are at all times and what their special needs may be. Some locals may have been infringed upon by snowmobiles in the past. Identify their concerns and work hard to get the word out so they no longer will be affected negatively by snowmobiles.
- Keep on keepin’ on. Sometimes it’s not the easiest road to take. Sometimes it means extra unpaid hours of volunteering for those who seem to not care. Trust me, it all makes a difference. Your club involvement is a way to secure our sport and grow it for generations to come. The hip, fly and cool guys may be too cool for clubs, but they will seem kind of silly sending it on a GT snow racer when motorized usage is banned. It takes all of us to have a voice and to be involved. If you can make a difference, do so. It does matter.