Sustainability

When KHC started formally we had 30 members.   We were good at social media, active on Facebook, we shared photos, and we were eager to please so we quickly grew to 150 and then to 250.   Throughout the growth process we saw some patterns:

  • the number of members grew quickly, but the number of hike leaders grew marginally
  • as hike leaders became more experienced, they began to reduce groups sizes since they are easier to manage
  • our membership became more active and kept an eye on new event listings
  • events started to fill up, especially in spring
  • we had more interest in booking spaces than open event spaces so a number of members became frustrated
  • the Board capped the membership to make sure the problem did not worsen
  • off-season participation dropped so it seems to balance out, but by that time, we have a number of members who have given up
  • when we signed up a large number of new members in winter, there was a surge in interest in snowshoeing and a desire to sign-up for events
  • snowshoeing is a bit of a challenge and novices sometimes struggle with equipment, fitness, and the on-the-snow challenges
  • hike leaders are experienced snowshoers and pick what they see as moderate treks, but novices see them as difficult
  • the same principle applies to hiking; our moderate norm is difficult for many hikers
  • a hiking club is not a service organization and is not really tuned to “learn-to-hike”
  • when events are full on weekends a number of members miss an opportunity to participate and would like to be added, but volunteer hike leaders rarely want to increase the group size, making hike leadership more like work,  and less like play
  • member who work weekdays saw less opportunities and found the booking process not meeting their needs
  • as hike leaders aged, medical issues arose and less events were posted, as part of the capacity of the club diminished
  • although KHC needed more hike leaders, the rewards and supports systems needed to be addressed

Given the above, a number of baby-steps were initiated to counteract these patterns:

  • more contented leaders may mean more event events and spaces so a recognition and support program was started
  • the Board defined the hike leader training/mentoring program more clearly and created a number of resources in support of novice leaders
  • a recognition program was a high priority
  • a recruitment program has been a high priority
  • strong communications was seen as a key factor in expanding the hike leadership base
  • hike leaders newsletters were established and 3 were sent out in 2017
  • communications was seen as a key element in resetting expectations of members with regard to the efforts of our volunteer hike leaders
  • communications was seen as a key element in new members signing up with unrealistic expectations that the efforts of volunteers cannot meet
  • a streamlined decision-making process was established to move ahead on key goals without unnecessary debates and impediments
  • a resetting of goals and objectives at the Board level was taken to tackle the challenges noted above
  • much of the expertise of KHC lies within a few members so sustainability includes transfer of knowledge in multiple areas – hike leadership, navigation, wilderness skills, first aid, technical skills, website skills, volunteer leadership and so on, so every key leader has been asked to document where possible and the info is being stored on the website and backed up

Can we meet the varied needs of the membership?   Baby steps have started and more minds are needed to help out…

L. Hunter – McConnell Hill

 

 

Doug Smith

Retired now, I get into the outdoors most days to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, or explore. Some of my activities involve more difficult routes, but most are suitable for moderately fit people too. Since I am out several times a week, I post one (or two) event(s) each week and I invite a small group of like-minded people to join me. Kamloops Trails