AMC-SEM Chapter

How to sign up for an AMC/SEM Hiking Trip

Show & Go Trips:
These activities are 'self-screened' - You are responsible for determining if you are qualified and equipped. For these trips, such as our Cape Hikes trips, the meeting place, time and special instructions are provided. You are responsible for understanding all of the 'normal conditions.' Like what to bring, how strenuous the trip will be (and that you can handle it!) If it is your first AMC activity you should call and talk to the leader, or activity Chair, to understand these 'implied' responsibilities, which can't be included in each listing. Once you have participated a couple times you will understand what is expected, and all will be well.

For Cape Hikes you should typically wear/bring:

1) Wear comfortable light hiking boots - noting that sand dune walking can be strenuous and may require added ankle support.

2) Water - 16 ounces for shorter Thurs or Sun hikes, a quart or more for longer Saturday hikes.

3) Carry small daypack or have pockets large enough for a water bottle on Thurs or Sun hikes. For longer Sat. hikes a daypack containing, depending on weather and season: windbreaker, wool hat, gloves, fleece, rain gear, personal items, personal first aid kit, brimmed hat, sunblock and UV filtered sunglasses

4) Optional - hiking stick

Screened Trips:
If the meeting place and time are not included in the listing then you must contact the leader for permission to attend, and to receive the location and time. The leader has the responsibility for assuring that all of the participants are physically qualified, and have the experience and equipment for the activity. As such the leader needs to know about you. If you have participated in activities with the leader previously this is usually pretty easy. But remind the leader of past participation: Where, when, what. Some leaders lead many trips each year, and it is hard for leaders to remember each participant. If the leader does not know you, then you need to provide a 'resume'. Don’t be intimidated, nothing formal or fancy is required. Most leaders will want you on their trip, they just need to know that you are qualified. Tell them of similar activities you have done. If these were other AMC activities tell them the where, when, and who the leader was. (Frequently leaders will check with each other if they know someone has been on a trip with another leader. This saves a lot of digging to get a feel for a participant’s ability.) If you are signing up for your first hike, but ride a bike, or work out at the gym, tell the leader. You know all about yourself, but remember that the leader doesn't. Help them out, “introduce” yourself.

Group Size:
For New Hampshire hikes into the White Mountains we are sometimes limited by rules to groups of 10 or less. Other times, either for New Hampshire hikes or for local hikes, the leader will limit the group size. One of the reasons is that many hikers hike to get away from it all, and back into nature. If we go in large groups, the ‘nature’ experience suffers. (It’s also the reason many leaders do not allow cell phones or dogs.) It’s hard to commune with nature in a large, noisy, group. So contact the leader early. Don’t assume that if you wait until you check the weather, there will still be room on the trip. So while some have room until the end, others fill weeks early.

Start Easy:
Sure you want to climb Mt. Washington. But it isn't good first AMC trip. Sign up for one or two 'easy' activities, which are well within your abilities, as your first involvement. It will be easier for you to qualify, and you will get to meet the leaders and learn how we do things. This way the leaders will get to meet you, judge your abilities and will be comfortable accepting, or recommending, you for more strenuous trips.

Emailing vs. Calling:
A few leaders love email signups, but most don’t.

On the plus side- A good email application tells the leader who the person is (and reminds them if they should remember the participant!) It tells the leader what activities the person has participated in previously, when and with whom. (“I did the SEM XYZ trip with Charlie and Steve last month.”) It addresses their equipment (“I have raincoat/pants, pack, water filter and three season boots and non-cotton clothes.”) But beyond just providing the 'information' it tells the leader a lot more. It tells the leader that the person understands the leader’s job, and that they know what needs to be learned in order to sign them up. So email if you want, but close by asking when would be a good time to call and talk. Then you are covered.

On the down side: Too many attempted email sign-ups are of the “Hi. I want to go on your trip. Where and when do we meet?" variety. Leaders really dread these emails. Why? Because what these emails tell the leader is that the person is probably new to group hiking, or just doesn't understand and appreciate the leader’s responsibilities. These emails need a long explanation to tell the person the things in this article. (Or an email telling them to come here and read this!) They are a warning that it will probably require a lot of back and forth exchange that will take a lot of time before the leader can decide if the participant is qualified.

A good email response tells the leader that the participant understands the typical AMC requirements, and is likely to be a good group hiker. That is important, because beyond conditioning, technical skill and equipment a good participant also needs to understand and respect that hiking with a group is different. You are giving up free choice in exchange for company. You no longer get to make the decisions about where you go, how fast you go, or when to call it a day and turn back vs. pushing on. Signing up for a group hike relinquishes those choices to the leader.

Calling is good for exchanging information. But remember the call may turn out to be lengthy. Don't call when you don't have time to tell the leader the answers they will need. And please don't call late at night, or the last couple days before a trip! The last day the leader may be busy packing, getting gear and food together. And just thinking about the trip. Being a leader does take thought. If the leader is spending that time trying to screen you, they could easily get distracted and forget something important - like to pack the group first aid kit. If you are new please sign up at least a week ahead. Once you are a frequent participant, if a last minute schedule change allows you to attend an activity, then it is different. The leader doesn't have to screen you, but merely let you know if you can come. Under those conditions you can ask, but remember it's up to the leader to decide. They may have already stopped signing people up, even if the trip isn't full. You can’t expect them to take you after they have started turning away others.

And if you call and the leader isn't home, call back. When you leave your number and ask the leader to call back you are asking them to spend their money to call for what may be a lengthy call. (Leaders are volunteers. They can, but typically don't, get reimbursed for their expenses.) Leading can get to be expensive. Over the year with multiple trips, and multiple participants, it adds up.

The Bottom-Line?
Come out and participate! As leaders we want you involved. Heck, we need you - we couldn't be leaders without you! But, as leaders, we need to assure ourselves that you are signing up for an appropriate activity. When we sign up ten people for an activity, if one person gets part way through and can't continue it can ruin the trip for everyone. As leaders we have the responsibility for trying to assure that everyone is qualified, and equipped, for the trip. As AMC leaders we try to be conservative. We ask you to bring what we have found may be needed. Most times you won’t need everything we ask you to bring. But one of these times you will need it, and be glad you have it.

Help us help you, so we all can have a fun time.

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