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The Boston AMC Mountaineering Committee is one very excellent program and group of folks. You would be hard pressed to find a better group of outdoor folks anywhere. They are very different than the other AMC groups; no notebooks and clipboards and sign-in sheets and fees for every little thing. They have truly maintained the spirit of volunteerism that the AMC used to stand for. They consistently put together excellent instructional programs, charging very little or nothing, usually barely enough to cover the cost of equipment maintenance and replacement. On many of their instructional trips, the students simply pay for beer and dinner for the instructors! The folks that taught me rock and ice techniques; Bill, Al, Pat, Tom & Hadie, Eric, Matt, and most of the others, are still out there instructing newbies (for free) ten years later!
I used to do lots of volunteer stuff with the AMC, although lately they seem to have some strange political agenda that seems to have alienated myself and many of my hiking/climbing/paddling/biking buddies. Nonetheless, they offer many excellent programs, and a good method for meeting and hooking up with outdoor-oriented folks. All of the volunteers and staff that do the work of the AMC seem to be excellent people, but the club itself seems lately to have gotten more into $$$, lobbying, and related political issues than the spirit of volunteerism that it was founded and known for.
AMC = Appalachian Money Collectors??? (first coined by Albee in the 80's)
UPDATE: July 2002
So now officials at the AMC are threatening to legal action against me for "defamation" and "libel" related to this page. Legal Action???? Because of these comments! C'mon, gimme a break!!! Who is going to pay their legal expenses for something like that???
Go on, take a guess,,, where will the AMC get the money to sue me for the comments above? Give up?
They get their most of their money from YOU, the members!!! Is this insane or what? How much of your dues (and my dues!) have been wasted over the years on these types of actions????
Where exactly is the libel and defamation in the comments above?
Another way in which the AMC spends too much of our hard-earned dues, in my opinion, is on excessive junkmail to former members. Did you ever notice how many of these packets you receive after you fail to renew your membership? Do they think that after you fail to respond to the first six or eight renewal notices you might change your mind if they bug you long enough? Who pays for those mailings that end up in the landfill? Go on, take a guess....
One year I was heading out of the country for half a year and purposefully let my membership expire. I returned the first three or four renewal notices along with a simple note saying "no thanks, leaving the country, I'll renew when I return", but the notices kept arriving in my mailbox. I finally phoned the membership office and said "please stop sending me these renewal notices,,, they're becoming junkmail". The woman at AMC said ".....ok, but unfortunately you will keep receiving them for six to eight more weeks, because your name is in the computer" and cannot be easily removed!!!!
Six weeks to remove my name from a computer list???? Are you kidding me? How much of my $40 annual dues is spent sending this fancy junkmail to former members who have left the club and possibly even said "no thanks" repeatedly like I did? Membership in the club has increased dramatically in recent years, but at what cost? And who pays that cost?
There are a lot of excellent people that are members of the AMC, and in fact all the members I've known are pretty cool folks. My experience with the volunteers that put together the different activities, especially the paddling and climbing events I've been involved with have always been positive. All the staff in the North Country also seem to be of consistently high caliber. Same with the "croo" that work the huts, they are hard-working, extremely tolerent, and exceptionally cool people. Unfortunately some of what comes out of Headquarters leaves me scratching my head sometimes. Things like the price of the huts! This year it is $65 per bunk/per night, and that is *with* the member discount! So if a family or group of four goes up for the weekend, two nights, let's see..... if I did the math correctly it comes out to over $500 before tips!!! Five Hundred Bucks!?! For a weekend for four hikers in a 10-bed bunkroom? Who can afford that???? Not the hikers that I hike with!!!!
Where does that five hundred bucks go? Some of it probably goes to good causes, like trail maintenance. Some of it possibly goes to pay the $900/hour cost of the helicopters used to ferry supplies into and out of the huts so that those who can afford the five hundred bucks/weekend won't have to carry too much weight in their daypacks. I've heard hikers call the huts "snack bars" because of all the candy bars, T-shirts, and other stuff that is sold there. Do we really need snack bars and t-shirt shops up in the mountains? Do we really want helicopters in the wilderness to resupply these wilderness snackbars and hotels!
Visit the Randolph Mountain Club huts in the Northern Presidentials, and see if you don't agree that they are much more in the spirit of what high huts in the mountains ought to be. You be the judge!
Also I urge everyone, especially all of us AMC members, to read Laura and Guy Waterman's book "Wilderness Ethics". I consider it a must read for anyone who spends time in the mountains of New England. I first met Guy and Laura up on Mt. Lafayette; they were picking up M&M and Snickers wrappers on the crowded summit. I remember saying to Laura "...don't they sell both of these candy bars down at Greenleaf Hut?" She just smiled, then frowned, and said nothing.
Remember the serenity and solitude of Crawford Notch? That is all about to change. Take a close look at the massive destruction/construction project going on there this summer! The area is currently being torn up to build the AMC's massive new project, the Highland Center. Anyone who has ever been to Pinkham Notch on a good spring skiing weekend will easily recall the thousands of automobiles that congregate in these bottlenecks on busy weekends. Now picture those same crowds at Crawford Notch. It sounds like the gridlock most of us have come up here to avoid. The intention is for some type of environmental education center. My guess is that it is more like a massive $$$ producer! A quick glance through their course offerings shows the average cost of a weekend course to be around $300. Imagine a family of four taking one of these courses,,,,,, it would cost them over a thousand bucks for a weekend of instruction!!! Intro to Climbing/$375, Whitewater Kayaking for Beginners/$315,,,,, sounds like a lot of the same types of instruction I took with the AMC volunteers many years ago, although these offerings bring in a lot more $$$$ than the volunteer-based instruction does. I would have thought that the AMC would have continued to heartily promote, support (and fund) the volunteer offerings ahead of the expensive moneymaking courses. The high cost of these noncredit courses amazes me,,,, I take a lot of graduate-level courses in the UMass college system, and pay only about 500-700 dollars for a 13-week course that includes graduate credits. Go figure!
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