I’ve always understood AMC first as a pragmatic place—built for fun and adventure, but also deeply invested in plans, safety protocols, good maps, and the right gear. Look around you during one of our outdoor leadership, wilderness first aid, or avalanche safety training courses, and you’ll see very plainly the kinds of situations in which many of our staff and volunteers are most capable. Great difficulty is nothing to celebrate, certainly, but it’s an opportunity to go deep into the skills we acquire over a lifetime, maybe even to pick up some new ones on the fly. When those fail, we lean all the more heavily on each other, trusting that our collective understanding will translate to collective strength.
Yet here we are, still isolated and missing one another. As I write this, a month before this issue reaches your home, little has changed about the distancing guidance we adopted on March 11—the day most AMC staffers last saw each other in person. Piling up by the door, as if to block us from heading outside, are the painful decisions that have followed from there: canceling trips, closing Little Lyford and the high mountain huts for the year, furloughing colleagues and friends, even shutting down the print version of AMC Outdoors after this issue—and none of it with the least measure of closure, which has been the crude hallmark of this disease everywhere it’s touched.
Yet here I am, still heartened, and mightily so, by the ways we’ve all managed to unite over the distance.
If you’ve joined us online for one of the many new workshops, trainings, presentations, or discussions that have sprung from our isolation, then you’ve done an important piece of the work holding our community together. Thank you for that and for your support in so many other endeavors that can’t afford to stand idle. I’m grateful to see our regional trails training center at Camp Dodge coming together on schedule, quite against the odds, ready to hold and even help heal us once it’s safe to gather again. I’m grateful to see our mission-critical environmental work pushing forward, embodied forcefully but gracefully by all of you in AMC’s Conservation Action Network, challenging (most recently) the air and water pollution deregulations that are somehow, despite all else that we’re wrestling as a nation, hurtling through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency like so many barrels rolling down a hill. And I’m grateful, among many other offerings, for the deep and abiding sanctuary of the Maine Woods, where our sustainable forestry, carbon capture research, and stream restoration projects continue to showcase the unbreakable kinship of science and service.
These and a hundred other projects make up the great work that goes on all year, every year, whether we’re able to get out and see it together or not. And it’s your dues, gifts, purchases, and tireless volunteerism that make them all possible. I’m grateful for that, too, while looking forward to many more fun adventures to come.
Until then, if the club can help you from afar, please let me be the first to know.
See you on the trail,
President & CEO