By Christine Jourdain
Executive Director, American Council of Snowmobile Associations
The season is just weeks away-that precious season we wait for . winter. I stopped to think about the typical snowmobiler. We are not just about snowmobiling. We care about many things and are involved in a variety of activities, organizations and events. I'm not sure "typical" applies to the definition of a snowmobiler.
Sure, the men start tinkering with their sleds when the summer temperature dips below 70 degrees F. They know it won't be long before they're heading to their favorite riding area. They start thinking about their favorite riding area or the area they frequent most often. What needs to be done before the snow flies and the season starts?
Because many of the trails are multiple use, many have been used by other users since the last snow. We know the obvious work list: snowmobile signs need to be installed, the trails need to be brushed, fences may need to be erected, staging areas need to be cleaned up and ready. But what else? Has there been storm damage? What improvements could/should be made and so on. The list goes on and on. Who does this work?
Fall also is the season for snow shows and conventions. Again, snowmobilers are the first ones there to help set up the snow shows, man any booths that need assistance and direct traffic, all the while promoting snowmobiling to anyone who will listen.
Fall conventions are a great time to catch up with old friends, catch up on issues and make plans for the coming winter, as well as sit through hours of meetings to be sure everything is in order for the start of the season.
It's the snowmobiler who volunteers his or her time to travel to these meetings and events, most often at their own cost. They give up their weekend to help organize and sit through meetings just so they know the trail system is ready to go when there is enough snow on the ground.
Most often, included in the planning sessions are charity events that are organized by the snowmobiling community. Snowmobilers are very charitable people. The snowmobiling community not only donates thousands of hours, but they also raise millions of dollars each year for a wide range of charities across the country.
Many snowmobile associations and clubs have also added to their list of events military outings. They are now treating members of our Armed Forces to a day of snowmobiling. They invite them out, often including their family, suit them up and take them out riding so they can show their appreciation for all they do for our nation.
Snowmobilers never think to contact the media or seek publicity for these types of activities. They do these fundraising activities because they care. They simply do them out of the goodness of their hearts.
That is very typical of a snowmobiler.
Many snowmobilers who are out working on many of the issues find themselves working regularly with the same land managers. The land manager who is doing his job, going day to day, checking off their to-do list, working on but not always enjoying the public lands. Many of those snowmobilers have started to invite the land manager to go snowmobiling, so he can enjoy the fruits of his labor. This also helps him see challenges we face, as well as the accomplishments and benefits. Why do snowmobilers go this extra step? Because they care, they are committed.
Snowmobilers want everyone else to understand their passion for the sport. They want people to experience the fun. They want others to see the winter wonderland like we see it. Trees hanging low from the fresh snowfall. Crystal blue skies that make the snow sparkle like diamonds. Fresh air and the beauty that awaits. Wildlife strolling about, swans floating on the river, the serenity of the setting-just a typical day on a snowmobile. Enjoying nature and the environment at its best.
Snowmobilers are about so much more than just snowmobiling. It's spending time with their friends and family. It's being the very best stewards of the land. It's about doing the right thing without seeking credit. It's about values.
Here's to the dedicated and committed snowmobilers. Keep up the good work. You make us all proud to be snowmobilers.
American Council of Snowmobile Associations is your voice for snowmobiling on national issues. You can find additional information on ACSA at www.snowmobilers.org or follow it on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AmericanCouncilOfSnowmobileAssociations?ref=ts