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July 31, 2009 Comments (0) Outdoor Tips

Spotcheck: Pros and cons of joining mountaineering clubs and organizations

Amongst us mountaineers, many shun talking about this topic mostly for lack of interest. Others are simply tired of the politicking and proverbial promises left unfulfilled by their many leaders. Some even felt they don’t need a club or organization to enjoy this hobby. The many climbing buddies and good camaraderie coupled with an innate pro environment advocacy are more than enough to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. I belong to the last group and by no means I did feel any less with my club held colleague. But for the sake of discussion, try to identify the perceived (or felt by the group members themselves) advantages of joining a mountaineering group.

Branding
“This is my group, this is where I belong and we are recognized by this umbrella organization”. Don’t get me wrong , the feeling of being a member of a club or getting certified by an umbrella org is an epic ego booster. Brandishing those catchy streamers and patches and that happy grin in your face ( a look of belonging to some important group), is close to taunting. You’re simply telling the other non members, you don’t belong to us unless you join our group. This is rather disturbing to me, as it may propagate divisiveness among all outdoor enthusiasts. To date, I can safely surmise that there are as many groups as there are mountains in this island to choose from. They seem to have a common likeness for the outdoors yet partisanship seem to spw divisions among clubs

Other Benefits
Not much, but there are supposed to be benefits entrenched in the the orgs constitution and by laws but was never really felt by the common member themselves. The freebies (discounts, insurances, equipment sharing, etc ) that comes with joining an organization are no different from what you get from without, at a much lesser over all cost. I have asked not a few group members what do they get from their club and some, aside from notoriety, couldn’t even utter a single benefit.

The Cons
Should I really enumerate them?Because I can go on and on and get frustrated. Let me mention the most glaring con- added expense. Mountaineering in itself is very expensive hobby, just the equipment and transportation costs put a hole in your pocket. The costly training fees, registrations, club fees and certification makes you wonder why the heck I need a club who milks my pocket when my friends can give the same for free? The financial cost is staggering. Then there’s this inherent problems with politicking and leadership hoopla that goes unabated in the upper echelon.of the club.

Whether this is a failure of their leaders or the club itself, it won’t make any difference. The failure of a leader or a club to attend to their members is a mortal sin. When the very members live for the organization and not the other way around, then something is amiss in that organization.

That’s why me and my climbing buddies maintain our structural organization only for that, a formalizing structure, fit for paperwork only. We run it as a democratic org, the issues debated upon by all members, is open to every non members, no fees collected nor promises made. We call it a barkadahan. And mind you, its a lot easier to handle than an org!

So are you still interested in joining one? Leave a word or comment here.

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