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Our New Chapter Outings Chair Introduces Himself
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by Dan Soeder, Chapter Outings Chair | 2010

Dan recommends that YOU become an Outings Leader!

This is my first outings calendar for the Mountain State Sierran. An employment opportunity brought me to West Virginia last summer, and at the urging of Nate Parr, I have agreed to take over as the outings chair for the West Virginia Chapter.

I bring some experience to the position. I was chapter outings chair in Delaware from 1999 to 2003, and chapter outings chair in Maryland from 2004 to 2009. I also served on the national Sierra Club Outdoor Activity Governance Committee from 2005-2008 as chair of the Local Outings Support Committee.

Each chapter is different, yet similar. When I took over in Delaware, it had an inactive outings program that needed rebuilding, requiring me to be an outings chair, outings leader, and outings participant. On the other hand, Maryland had an active outings program run at the group level, and the chapter outings chair job was more like a coordinator.

West Virginia is like Delaware in that it could use some outings program development, but also like Maryland as there are a number of people here who are interested in being active leaders.

So what does it take to become a Sierra Club outings leader? It’s actually pretty easy, and only requires 4 things: 1) a legal adult who is an active (dues paid) member of the Sierra Club; 2) successful completion of the Sierra Club Outings Leader Training class, either OLT101 or the more advanced OLT201; 3) current first aid certification equivalent to or better than Red Cross Basic; 4) lead one outing as a provisional leader.

This last requirement can be waived by the chapter outings chair if the person has obvious experience. I will be running some OLT101 classes this spring, or you can take it online through the Sierra Club outings website: http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/outings/training/intro/olt101/wbt/index.asp.

The first aid training can be obtained at any local Red Cross, and the chapter will reimburse the cost if needed once a leader schedules and leads an outing. Contact me for details. What kind of outings can you lead? Well, just about a anything. I always tell leaders to choose an activity they would do anyway, like a favorite hike or bike ride. When the leader enjoys an outing, the participants will have more fun. And if the turnout is a bit on the low side, the leader will still enjoy the activity, because it was something he or she was going to do anyway.

I think offering a variety of outings will help build up an outings program, so please send me suggestions. Outings can be related to conservation issues, or be educational in nature, or be just plain fun.

Day trip outings can be led after completing OLT101. Overnight backpacks or float trips away from vehicles require the more advanced OLT201 training.

We’re a little sparse on the number of outings offered this spring, but I hope to build this up as we bring in new leaders with new ideas. West Virginia is a fabulous place for outdoor activities, and our outings program can be one of the best.

I fully understand that outings aren’t for everyone, and if it’s not your cup of tea, that’s okay. But for those of us who do enjoy the outdoors, please participate, and please consider becoming a leader.

Thanks. I’ll see you outside.

— Dan
Dan.Soeder@sierraclub.org

P.S. See more information and musings from Dan on our Chapter Outings webpages!
 
Nine brave souls participated in the annual cross-country ski outing to Blackwater Canyon: (from left) Beth Krause, Gwen Jones, Mary Slabinski, Ann D King, Aubra Sitler , Hillery Chidderton, Patricia Burkett, Matt Chase, and photographer Jim Kotcon.
Since the weather on Jan 30 was somewhat uncertain, several folks backed out at the last minute, but these nine braved the frigid temperatures to enjoy a winter ski / hike a few miles along the  Canyon rail trail. Their reward was a shopping spree at the MountainMade Store and a warm meal at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV.

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