Report from the 2017 ALDHA-West Board Retreat
Top row: VirGo, Allgood, POD, Drop-N-Roll, Charles Baker
Bottom row: SoFar, Snorkel, Twinkle, Naomi, Story
Over the weekend of January 20-22, the board, along with a few key members in appointed positions gathered in the winter wonderland of Trout Lake, WA. The annual retreat has become an important opportunity for us to focus on all things ALDHA-West, face-to-face without distraction.
While we worked on knocking out some organizational tasks, such as nailing down details for the upcoming Rucks, we also focused a lot of our energy on longer term goals and needs of the organization. We used the “SWOT” technique for analyzing ALDHA-West’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. From this activity, we found three areas of focus for the weekend:
ALDHA-West isn’t exactly a catchy, easy to remember name, and it’s a bit of a challenge to articulate just what we do when meeting new faces. Our approach to increasing engagement of membership will include going back to having printed brochures and merch available for events, particularly PCT Days, and mailing welcome packets to new members.
Of course, social media is a driving force in today’s world. Unfortunately, our board is all older than the millennial generation, and we struggle to keep up! However, we are very fortunate to have a talented video editor on our board, VirGo, and he’s already made some awesome promo videos for us! We are also focusing on some new avenues of event advertisement, especially partnering with local hiking clubs, trail and conservation organizations to reach a new audiences.
2. Trail Town Engagement:
With increasing numbers of thru-hikers inevitably comes increasing conflicts with trail towns and business owners. We feel a critical need that ALDHA-West can fill is supporting and educating hikers and trail communities about appropriate behavior and expectations. Reaching out to trail towns to understand their issues is critical to maintaining good relationships and ensuring continued availability of services. We also came up with the “10 Commandments” for hikers to follow to be good citizens and minimize conflict. Look for more on this in an upcoming Gazette article!
Unfortunately, ALDHA-West has an image of being elitist and unapproachable to newer hikers, or even experienced hikers who may not fall under a “typical thru hiker”. If you’ve been to our events, we hope you feel otherwise! Going forward, we will be sure to explain and encourage the “Hike Your Own Hike” ethic when we speak at events. We also will have designated “Trail Guides” (welcome wagon) at events to orient new attendees and help them feel welcome.
We also enjoyed getting to know each other better and a little time playing in the snow!