by Natrieifia Miller

Club Profile: AMC Young Members Engagement

Earlier this fall, September 16-18, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) held a Leadership Training specifically for young members across its 12 chapters. This Leadership Training targeted members in their 20s and 30s, giving them the opportunity to network with other AMC Young Members (YM) across the region and develop skills to aide participants on the journey to leadership in their local AMC Chapters and YM Committees. Topics ranged from orienteering with map and compass to trip planning, trip leadership, and incident scene management.

AMC Young Members committees are in charge of encouraging people in their 20s and 30s to become involved with AMC but also inspire enjoyment of the outdoors. The committee sponsors trips throughout the year, exploring across the New England Regions. Activities and events vary from backpacking to local walks, kayaking to ice skating, trail work, to purely social events. Each of the twelve AMC chapters have their own schedule of events and you can check them out on their individual websites.

Susannah Hatch is the AMC Volunteer Relations Coordinator. In the past few years she’s been working to cultivate young member activities through AMC and its chapters. She has this advice for any club that feels committed to getting younger members involved and truly active in their club:
Offer what they want: Introduction to trail work workshops, orientation events to get to know your club (she suggest the latter activity may be something that’s done over a beer) are great starter events. While they’re there, ask what other things they’d be interested in showing up for.

Again and Again: Know it’s not just a one-time thing. It will take a while to build it. “As with all recruitment, it is constant since we’re all getting older day-by-day. We’ll need members to come in behind us and continue what’s started,” says Hatch.

Be welcoming. Always: Once you get the ball rolling and you’re creating invitations to events specific to certain demographics (20-30 year olds, as example), be sure that you’re always welcoming to ANYONE who shows up, regardless of age or background. To do anything less would be discrimination. Plus, that’s just not who we are!

Multiple media outlets: Send out opportunities in your newsletter, contact your local newspapers, have partner groups help spread the word about the invitations to these events.

Make it a priority: If gaining younger members is important than it must be a priority. Perhaps designating one club volunteer to head-up the work on getting these programs together and getting the word out. Having a leader is great, but have others pitch in to make it a success.

Foster Connection: People’s lives can be transient. Keeping a connection with other clubs and teaching your new young members about these connections is a way to help them feel more connected and engaged in the cause and organization. Their next move might take them farther from your club but into a new club/community they’re already aware of.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” Aristotle.