State of the Team – New Perspectives 2017

Hello Everyone,


The new year brings new things.   Well, actually every day brings new things, every hour brings new things.  The future, by its very nature is a new thing.   The fact is, we aren’t always excited about the future.  Sometimes, we just don’t look forward to it.  New things could be good or the future could be a time full of doom.

Here’s the thing. . . it is all what you make of it.  It is all about your perspective of the future.   One of the most exciting things you can look forward to is to dare “mighty things”.   An epic trip, a lofty goal – they can excite us. . . they give us something to look forward to.

In 2017, we are looking at doing mighty things.   The team has the largest spring skills school we have ever offered.   Our membership – both public and team members has grown very well.   We finished 2016 with the most classes, members and events ever.  2017 looks much larger still.

We also eliminated many of the “busy” tasks that we had with administration.  We have streamlined our registration process, eliminated “paid” public trips, and rid ourselves of the shackles of slow and inefficient processes in favor of automation.   Now we can focus on more adventures and to look forward to it.

This year, the spring skills school will bring over 18 COURSES (twice the number last year)!   Including some new ones – Arctic Medicine (WM1), Medicine for Water Emergencies (WM3), Overland Practical Skills (OVT2), Technical Rope Work – Descending (TR4), Technical Rope Work – Ascending (TR5), and our first foray into “beginner skill sets” – Basic Backpacking.   We also will be holding our Outdoor Leadership II Course (LEAD2)– our longest and most comprehensive skills course with over 60 hours of training and learning.  We will be adding zodiac open water training and many other new features to the curriculum.

The spring school is exciting for sure, but we aren’t done.   This year, we will be hiking our own North Country Trail Challenge.   This will be the team’s 3rd challenge on the NCT and the trail has change a lot since our last long hike in 2003.  The NCT Challenge will be over 200 miles of section hikes done as day hikes.   We will be partnering with the North Country Trail Association.   We have 21 legs planned from Battle Creek and hiking every step of the trail to the northern border of Newaygo County.

In addition, we are planning a Mountain Bike challenge.  We will attempt every single track (and worthy) mountain bike trail within 40 -60 miles of Grand Rapids (definition, list and distance still TBD).  Stay tuned, information coming soon.

The Challenges will allow our members plenty of opportunity to hike and bike with events almost every weekend.

Our flagship expedition this year will be the ARCTIC OCEAN in July.  We will overland the northern most road in the North America – on this side of the Mississippi – and launch kayaks into James Bay.  We will offer alternative options for other expedition members who don’t want to kayak.  We will also do some hiking and maybe even some ocean seafaring in Cree freighter canoes.  This expedition is sure to be epic.  More information coming soon.

Also on the docket are a variety scouting trips, excursions and expeditions.  A Bike Packing Expedition in the remote wilderness of Canada is in the works as well as some open water, hiking and other adventures.   We are also beginning to plan and scout some far flung places – it should be a great year!

With the changes to our systems, we find that we are now able to lower our membership dues from $54 annually to $40 annually.   This takes effect immediately and all renewals will be billed at the new pricing level.  So, there is that.

2017 holds an exciting and fresh perspective for myself and the team.  I am looking forward to joining you on many more adventures than we have in the past.   We have a goal to just be awesome and do cool things this year.  It’s a solid perspective.

Thanks for making this the best outdoor organization in the Midwest – all y’all are pretty cool.

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