S1.E25: How Organizations Help Deliver Adventure with Angela Hawse

How Organizations Help Deliver Adventure with Angela Hawse
Who regulates adventure? Who trains guides and professionals? Who advocates for access or promotes safety and skill development? The answer to all of these questions are organizations. Jordy and Chris are joined by Angela Hawse to explore the role of organizations in the delivery of adventure. Angela shares her perspective as the President of the American Mountain Guides Association. She discusses what everyone should know about how some of these organizations work, their challenges and the value that they bring to everyone.

Key Takeaways
Start small and evolve: Organizations tend to start with a group of people that band together to push forward a small number of objectives and then grow.
Anyone can help them to evolve: Everyone has the ability to use the power of their influence to drive change within these organizations by jointing boards, committees, and lobbying membership with solutions.
Organizations are groups of people: They are not faceless corporations. They can be contacted, influenced, and they often appreciate positive feedback!
These organizations are essential: They can play important roles in educating the public, creating and sharing best accepted practices, accrediting and regulating guides and instructors, and lobbying for protection, development and access.

Guest Links & Resources
American Mountain Guides Association: https://amga.com/
Angela’s Instagram @alpinist007
IRIS: https://irisalpine.com/about/guides/
The Power to Influence: how to get the best out of yourself and others – find it here

Partner Podcast
The Avalanche Hour: https://www.theavalanchehour.com

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Cover photo by: Fred Marmaster

Photo by: Randy Gaetano

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Angela Hawse: That ensure the public is going to get the top level, the highest standards of client experience, as well as technical standards and risk management. And it, it really does blow me away still, that you could hire a plumber that’s certified and licensed. To fix your toilet, but anyone from the public could go out with a guide that doesn’t have the license or any training, and their lives are in their hands.

[00:00:30] Chris Kaipio: Welcome to Delivering Adventure. This is the podcast that explores what it really takes to share adventure like a pro. With your friends, your family, and as a profession. My name is Chris Kaipio, and I’m coming to you from Whistler, British Columbia.

[00:00:49] Jordy Shepherd: And I’m Jordy Shepherd, recording from Canmore, Alberta.

After a lifetime of working extensively in different parts of the adventure guiding industry, Chris and I have teamed up to launch this podcast. In each episode, you’ll hear top adventure guides, managers, marketers, and athletes share their best stories, advice, and trade secrets. The goal of this podcast is to share how you can take yourself and others farther from the mountains to the office and beyond.

In this episode, we’re going to explore the role that organizations play when it comes to delivering a. Joining us to discuss. This is Angela Haws. If you missed it, Angela joined us a few episodes ago to explore how we can deliver adventure to ourselves. She’s quite busy and we are lucky to have her.

Joining us again in the DA studio, Angela’s an IFMGA / AMGA, mountain Guide, guide, trainer, adventurer, and the current president of the American Mountain Guide Association, also known as the AMGA.

[00:01:47] Chris Kaipio: Jordy and I both serve on the board of Directors of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, as well as several other committees.

I also serve on the board of the Recreational Canoeing Association of British Columbia as organizations often get overlooked when it comes to adventure delivery. We thought that this would be a great topic to. While we are going to be asking Angela to tell us all about the AM m G A, we are going to be framing most of our takeaways in this episode around how associations and organizations in general operate what the role is and why this matters to their members, the general public and government agencies and land managers.

Examples of some of the organizations that are involved in delivering Adventure that we are talking about include the Alpine Club of Canada, ski and Snowboard Instruction Associations, guiding Associations like our Friends at the Interpretive Guides Association and Commercial Bear Viewing Association, the ACMG, AMGA, paddle Canada Search and Rescue Organizations Outdoor.

And of course, trail building and maintenance organizations, just to name a few. All

[00:03:01] Jordy Shepherd: of these types of organizations play a big role in delivering adventure that most people may not be aware of. This sometimes includes their own members. Okay, let’s bring Angela back into the DA studio. Angela, welcome back to the Delivering Adventure Podcast.

Can you tell us about the AMGA, the American Mountain Guide Association.

[00:03:21] Angela Hawse: Yeah. Jordy, thanks for having me back. I’d love to tell you about the AMGA. The Amer, the American Mountain Guides Association is the representing body in the United States of. Guides and climbing instructors. And we have a membership of roughly 4,500, um, members that spans from folks who are just getting into the profession, um, that are, um, taking courses, uh, as single pitch instructors and, and, um, having opportunities to get examined in that.

And that’s an end. Certification. We also have a climbing wall instructor program, um, for folks that are working in gyms. Uh, but our real, um, kind of core program is our mountain guide program, which is, uh, training and certifying individuals in the disciplines of rock guiding, alpine guiding and ski guiding and, um, individuals can.

Certification and the training track in just one discipline. Say if they’re rock climbers and they want to become a rock guide, they can just pursue that or they can pursue multiple disciplines or they can get all three, which results in an international license as an IFMGA guide. And that is, um, when you join the ranks of, um, roughly less than 7,000 guides.

Uh, worldwide who have gone through the same level of rigorous training and examination to become a top level, uh, mountain guide. And that, uh, is, um, governed by the IFMGA, the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association, of which the a is one of 27 member associations around the world. So we represent, uh, guides and climbing instructors, international.

[00:05:30] Jordy Shepherd: And how did the AMGA come to be in Canada? We’ve got the ACMG, uh, the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, which is also an IFMGA member country. And we, in, in our history, we had Swiss guides come over initially to, with the railroad and the hotels when Canada was being first opened up to travel and, uh, and to get a, a railroad right across the country.

So it’s very intertwined with our transportation corridor history in, in Canada. And those guides basically stayed and, and populated the. All the techniques and the association, uh, spawned from that. Uh, how did the American Mountain Guide Association come to be?

[00:06:17] Angela Hawse: Yeah, that’s great. Our, our history is, um, quite a bit different.

We, um, are a nation of pioneers and cowboys and, uh, the guiding tradition in United States a followed suit with that. We never, um, our profession was never, and it still. Regulated by the government and nobody has, uh, mandated from the public managers of public lands or insurance companies that you have to be trained and certified as you do in, in Europe or even in parts of Canada to operate.

Um, so a group of, uh, very dedicated guides back in the day, this was back in 1979. Decided it was time to try to unify guides and try to get our professions, which, uh, were spread out all over the country. You know, the, we had communities of guides in the northeast and communities of guides in the Rockies and communities of guides in the West coast that weren’t really, uh, collaborating or, or talking together.

And, and at that time, uh, a couple of guides said, we, we can, we can grow our strength and uh, our professionalism. Joining forces. And so they, they chartered the, um, professional American Mountain Guides Association, which is what it was called back then. And the goal at that time was to come together to, to even begin the discussion to see if training and certification was something that was, that, that we should pursue.

And of course, um, Being a bunch of free thinking liberals that, uh, mountain guides often are, uh, most thought that was a bad idea and most thought that as a threat to the profession would be, uh, any, any means of regulating or requiring training and certification. So, uh, the, the organization struggled for a number of years until there was a real crisis.

Um, in the insurance industry in the late eighties and guide services and guides, were having a hard time getting insured. And so that kind of rebooted the whole, um, the whole desire to get the, unify the guides and try to come up with some process that would help us be stronger in numbers than, um, a bunch of individuals as we’d.

Are always operated. So at that time, uh, that was kind of the push when, uh, a couple of the key players that were involved at the time had been exposed to guiding in Canada and, and Europe and, and really saw the benefit of, um, standards and elevating training and certification to, um, uphold and. Move the profession forward.

And um, and so those individuals kept pushing and kept, um, communicating with, uh, you all up north and the IFMGA to try to get acceptance into the, the program and, um, You all at the ACMG kindly stepped in as our sponsoring association and kind of mentored us through the process of developing our training programs and exams, um, to get us where we are today.

And we finally gained acceptance into the IFMGA in 1970 or 1997. Um, after. Probably a three or four year period where a number of your, um, examiners came down and observed art courses and exams, one of which I was a student on an advanced Alpine Guide course, I think it was the first one, uh, that was vetted by the ACMG and Karl Klassen came down and observed that, and it was such an interesting dynamic, having my examiners being observed by a c m.

Examiners and it, I’m sure Karl remembers that. Well, and it was, uh, it was what we needed to, to move forward and, and you all’s mentorship certainly got us to, uh, the place we are today where we deliver top-notch training and, and programs to, um, a lot of students throughout the.

[00:10:51] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s been quite the intertwined history with the association in Canada and the association in, in the United States.

Um, yeah, and we’re, we’re obviously neighbors and, uh, you know, geographically and, and a lot of our terrain is, is not too dissimilar. . We do find, we have in Canada, uh, a lot more glaciation. And this speaks to the climate change piece, right. And we’re, our glaciation is on the way out as well and threatened by climate change.

And so a, a number of, uh, still to date of the American Mountain Guide Association courses run in Canada, uh, because we have the glaciated terrain for you to be examined in. Yeah,

[00:11:34] Angela Hawse: that’s correct. We. Sadly, uh, have very few areas in the United States, the lower 48, specifically with glaciated terrain, and that’s exclusive to the Pacific Northwest.

And so, all of the training and examination that we do in the Alpine and the ski mountaineering, um, require glaciated terrain. And, and we do our best to expose our candidates and, uh, students to different terrain sets it, we. , it’s less than ideal to be trained and then examined in the same terrain. So we’ve really benefited from, uh, the collaboration with you all and being able to go north of the border.

And, um, mostly it’s mostly exams, but some of our courses have run up there as well.

[00:12:23] Jordy Shepherd: And Canada’s also, uh, been, uh, helpful with, with the Russian Mountain Guide Association to work towards becoming a, um, a member of the IFMGA as. Just as a sidebar.

[00:12:34] Angela Hawse: Yeah. It’s a remarkable process having the, um, ability to be mentored by an experienced, um, association and experienced examiners to come and help.

Um, Help foster this, these standards around the world. So good for you all with Russia.

[00:12:56] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah. And in Canada here, we’ve, uh, looked at the American Mountain Guide Association as being leaders, uh, recently in like your tech videos that you’re, you’re putting out for the public. Um, just quite amazing social media presence there.

Good on you for, for getting that out. So it’s not just, you know, it’s about this Delivering Adventure podcast is about getting these techniques out, right? And, and you’re doing a great job of, of sharing that, where people can understand how to be safer and more efficient and effective in the mountains.

So really good job with that.

[00:13:28] Angela Hawse: Oh, thanks. Thanks. Uh, it’s great to hear that Jordy and uh, we definitely, uh, work closely with our partners, as do you, um, helping to get some of this educational content out to the public. And that’s critical because we are the experts.

[00:13:43] Jordy Shepherd: So, Angela, how did you get involved in this leadership role and, and being an influencer with the American Mountain Guide Association?

[00:13:51] Angela Hawse: I got involved back in 2003. I was invited to join the board of directors and at that point it was a real, um, turning point for me because I had been like many, uh, members who don’t know a lot about the organization. Kind of dismayed and, uh, you know, a little bit put off by, um, the organization not necessarily doing the things that I think they should be doing.

And so I, it was a real crossroads for me. It’s like I can either, Continue to be a complainer and watch from the outside, or I can get involved and, and try to see what’s, see how this all works, but also have a voice. And so, I joined the board in 2003 and served two different terms. and then, uh, took, uh, a number of years off from that and then was kind of recruited from our staff leadership team, um, to be the potential next president.

Um, and, and I was a really good fit. Uh, I’ve, you know, have worked on the instructor team for 17 years. Very, um, well versed and familiar with our, our programs and, and also having the board experience previously, um, set me up for, um, kind of the right person, right time to, to be a leader of our organization.

[00:15:21] Jordy Shepherd: Well, they’re lucky to have you. How does a person become a member of the Oh, thank you Am Oh, you’re welcome. How does a, uh, person become a member of the AMGA if they wanted to?

[00:15:35] Angela Hawse: Well, um, , you go to our website, amga.com and you would choose a, a variety of different membership op membership options. We have, um, a supporting membership option, which is for folks that, uh, more like folks that are our clients or they’re, they’re really interested in what we do. They’d like to see some of the internal happenings and offerings that the me.

Receives, um, and that, and that person, a supporting member wouldn’t have to be a guide or necessarily even have, um, the aspirations to be a guide into the future. And, and then you can apply, you can also join as a professional level, uh, which is what you would need to do if you’re going to enroll in our courses and exams. So really, um, being a member of the organization is relatively straightforward, but if you want to be like an engaged member where you’re actually taking courses and exams, that’s a whole different level of commitment and being a long-time mountain guide adventure.

[00:16:39] Jordy Shepherd: Uh, delivery type person, uh, as a, uh, instructor, teacher in the various roles that you’ve had, what are some, what’s some advice that you could give to our audience to who want to make delivering adventure their profession?

[00:17:00] Angela Hawse: That’s a great question and I’m so glad you asked it because I think it’s absolutely, Critical that anyone who wants to be a guide or responsible for taking others into the mountains where there’s elements of risks and, uh, hazard has a solid platform, a solid foundation of their own experience and.

when I got into it, I got into it because I had a long history of just climbing and skiing and alpinism that I pursued personally. And I think there’s been a cultural shift that you can sign up for courses and exams and you know, that you, it’s just like getting into college and, and that’s. Our profession is so different that way that it, it just really requires solid personal skill sets before you even start down the road of learning the skills to actually guide someone in the terrain.

And it’s that foundation of, um, personal experience that. is one of the best ways of managing risk is when you can move solidly through the terrain and be comfortable in the terrain and you’ve dealt with adversity on your own in the past. You just have the bandwidth to focus on your client’s experience or your family’s experience or your friend’s experience if, if you’re the one that’s the leader.

[00:18:32] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah. And when I was going through my guide courses with the ACMG, it was an amazing side benefit to say, I’ve got to go train. For courses. And so, I just climbed and skied my face off, uh, because that’s what I needed to do. Um, and I got to experience all this adventure at the same time and, and hang out with all these great people who are also training for their courses.

[00:18:57] Angela Hawse: Yeah, it’s a huge benefit of the job and as is just continuing to work as a guide. Right? It’s like one of the things that we have to. Do is we have to maintain a high level of fitness to perform our guide, to perform our duties as a guide. So that’s, that’s definitely a job benefit is getting out there and doing the stuff on your own and, and building that base of durability so you can be in it for the long haul.

[00:19:24] Chris Kaipio: So Angela, we’d be talking about the AMGA and the ACMG, but there are a lot of organizations out there that are governing and training and advocating for access and, um, Affecting the adventure delivery industry. You know, some of these include canoeing and kayaking associations and mountain biking and hiking and, and you name it.

You don’t have to look very far before you find them. Um, but a lot of people don’t know much about them and, and what they do. And so, you know, on a broader context, what is the role of these organizations when it comes to delivering adventure?

[00:20:06] Angela Hawse: That’s a great question. The, the role, like you said, is very, um, overlooked what an organization provides for the folks that are delivering the adventures.

And um, really a lot of that is, um, support on numerous levels from training to, um, offering different. Uh, services for the members that help, um, the continuing professional development that’s critical for a professional to perform. Are tasks over time because a lot of our organizations, they might be the training body or the certification body, but they’re also responsible for providing continual education opportunities for members that may be required, maybe elective.

Um, but are things that continually push the profession forward and our ability as uh, our ability as individual professionals to, to be at the highest standards and keep up with the current, the current trends and the current standards.

[00:21:20] Chris Kaipio: So let, let me ask you a follow up question then, you know, why do you think that these organizations are important to protecting the public interest?

The mission statement of the AC G really centers. Protecting the public interest, which I think is, uh, is a great way to encapsulate what the goal of these organizations should be. But I think that in the public eye, most people don’t realize it because it’s, it is as you sort of, when I say realize that I, I should backtrack and just say, you know, realize what that means to them.

Because, you know, you just highlighted, you know, some certifications and membership services, but you know, what does that actually mean to the public? What do these organizations do for them that they might not be

[00:22:02] Angela Hawse: aware of? Yeah, that’s a great question, Chris. What these organizations really do behind the lines are provide, um, some vetting.

They provide like third party. Standards that unify us as professionals. And without organizations like the ACMG or the AMGA, um, guiding would, it would still happen, but it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t have all the, the associated, um, high level, uh, training opportunities that. That are vetted by a third party.

And I think that’s the real key here with like our do two different organizations is like anybody can put up a, a, a plaque on their door that says they’re a guide or, or, or, or they’re, uh, uh, whatever they are here in the United States, you could, you could put up whatever you want to be, but there’s nothing that says that has like the substance behind that.

Like a, a plumber would have to have, or an electrician or a doctor for that matter, or a lawyer, you know, there’s certain, um, standards that come with a profession that have been vetted. Internationally for our profession that, um, that ensure the public is going to get the top level, the highest standards of client experience, as well as technical standards and risk management that should be expected of our industry.

And it, it really does blow me away still, that you could high, you, you have. Hire a plumber that’s certified and licensed to fix your toilet, but anyone from the public could go out with a guy that doesn’t have a license or any training, and their lives are in their hand. And I, I mean, it, it, it, it goes to show that there’s a lot of really, really talented.

Guides out there, and a lot of really talented climbers out there, and they don’t want to downplay the, the what people have achieved on their own. But when you come into an organization that has standards and upholds those standards and expectations of the membership, it just, it sets the bar higher and it ensures, um, it, it ensures a level of trust that the me that the.

Can rely on the public, knows that they’re climbing with someone who’s gone through, like Jordy said, the, a very rigorous process, uh, being trained and examined.

[00:24:54] Chris Kaipio: So Angela, you hit on a lot of good points there, including the fact that one of the most important tasks of any of the organizations that we are talking about is to define what best accepted practices and standards in their field should be.

So, just switching gears a little bit, I find one of the biggest challenges that can limit an organization’s ability to achieve its goals can be a shortage of resources. These resources, of course, can include money, which most organizations get from selling courses or programs, membership dues, grants, and sometimes partnerships with companies.

These resources can also include volunteer time. Many of the committees I’ve served on have been driven forward mostly by passionate people who have their own careers to manage and often also have other volunteer commitments as well.

[00:25:54] Angela Hawse: Yeah. That that is a real challenge with organizations is finding all the resources to do all the things that you want to do.

And we’ve been stretched really thin since Covid at the AMGA. I mean, we’re always running on limited bandwidth because we have a lot of ideas and we have a lot of things that we want to do, but we’ve really. Diversified since Covid. Um, because we had a bit of a, a, a lapse in time when we could deliver our programs and we had, uh, we benefited from government funding.

Um, so we were able to actualize a bunch of projects that we had kind of back in in. In the, on, you know, in the bike rack that we wanted to move forward with, like developing some e-learning and, um, developing, um, you know, more of a, a rubric and a proficiencies for our evaluation system. And, uh, we were actually able to, To complete a lot of that stuff and, um, provide more, um, webinars for our members on, uh, all kinds of things that, uh, would benefit them through the whole COVID process.

Like how do you write a, a covid management plan? How do you write an operational, um, plan and, and, um, do the checks and balance. To continue to operate in a pandemic and how do you navigate the extremely complicated unemployment process? Um, when, um, as a self-employed person, you’ve never even been able to qualify for that before.

And we, so we had all, uh, some time to develop a lot of, uh, new initiative for our members, which they benefited from. We all benefited from tremendously. But since then, trying to keep up with a lot of that stuff that we created and getting our programs back in motion, which have, uh, have, we’ve been hugely successful at, um, has really stretched our resources quite thin.

And, um, I think all of, or all organizations, Suffer from bandwidth resource issues and, um, the benefit of having volunteer efforts to serve on boards and committees. Um, Which offer great ideas and we have no shortage of great ideas. But when you actually like, go back to the organization with like, what, what, what’s our core mission here and how do we choose the nuggets of the, these things which we can incorporate into the priorities without.

Stretching ourselves too thin. And, um, it’s certainly the ACMG and, uh, the AMGA. I mean, we operate, um, at a very high level and very risky, um, terrain running our courses and exams, and we, we have to really pay close attention to our bandwidth.

[00:29:04] Jordy Shepherd: Can you share some of the AMGA’s biggest successes as an organization?

[00:29:09] Angela Hawse: Well, that would, uh, Yeah, we have a lot of really big successes. I think I’ll, I’ll just go to, to kind of modern times, recent times. Um, I think our biggest success right now is our focus on diversity and inclusivity and equity, and that has really, Opened the doors to, um, uh, just a more inclusive environment and tone of, uh, cultural respect and responsibility that’s carried over into everything that we do.

And, you know, that all came about. during the Black Lives Matter movement. And, um, it, we certainly, uh, as we, uh, struggled to embrace and react to that because we weren’t in a position of being proactive when that came about. Um, we took a number of missteps and we took a number of risks that, um, in trying to embrace this, That, uh, were uncomfortable.

Um, and they were difficult conversations and, and we learned a lot and we had to pick ourselves up a number of times and, um, realize that we were going to make mistakes and, and it wasn’t going to be perfect. And we’ve continued to strive to, to really. Um, uphold our commitment to be in an organization that, that does embrace diversity and does welcome, um, folks that affiliate with marginalized communities or different, different, um, identities and create a safe place where not only do they do these groups feel welcome and.

Open to, to take our programs and develop as guides and instructors, but we as, um, those who have held the privilege for years, uh, are also learning and, and growing as a result of all of this. So, I think our whole DEI, um, initiative is. Stepped us forward as an organization. It’s further, uh, helped us professionalize, um, our craft and it’s created, uh, more, more unity in what we do.

And I think it, it really is, um, it’s, it’s enabled us to really look. The people aspect of guiding and, and for, so, um, so much of our focus is always on the technical aspects of guiding right? And that’s critical that we are really good and we’re experts at, at the technical, um, side of our craft. But the real benefit of this all is, uh, I think we’ve all grown as, um, individuals and being more compassionate and accepting of others, and.

And also realizing that we’re stronger when we’re more diverse and everybody, um, deserves a voice at the table. And, um, and welcoming that is, is definitely moving us forward. Other wins? The AMGA? I think we’ve just, um, You know, we’ve decided not only with, um, the cultural inclusivity is to just be inclusive of, uh, all the different crafts of, uh, technical instruction and guiding in the US and, um, uh, We’ve, uh, rather than just focus on the mountain guiding track, we’re really upholding our single pitch instructor program and the climbing wall program as kind of the entryway and, um, servicing those that are probably providing more experiences to the vast majority of the public than mountain guides because, you know, the ratios can be higher in a single pitch environment.

And that’s, uh, the. People’s clients first experience with the AMGA and we’re really starting to realize the benefit of, of, um, this whole inclusive community and, and putting some more resources into that.

[00:33:37] Jordy Shepherd: Awesome. Those are amazing successes.

[00:33:38] Angela Hawse: Should I go on into other wins?

[00:33:43] Chris Kaipio: Yeah. Stop. Stop bragging Angela.

[00:33:48] Angela Hawse: Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of challenges, but there’s a lot. There’s a lot of wins too.

[00:33:53] Jordy Shepherd: And so, what are some of the current challenges facing the AMGA?

[00:33:57] Angela Hawse: The biggest challenges facing the AMGA right now are, um, the same. That we’ve had for ages, and that’s access to public lands and access to, uh, the places where we can guide and, um, and work with the public.

But more so recently, um, With these challenges and our growing programs, we are pretty limited in our, uh, own permit numbers and locations where we can run our courses and exams. And, and that becomes a real challenge, um, especially, uh, for our Alpine and our ski mountaineering programs that might get pushed into less desirable terrain with higher margins of risk.

When. Can’t necessarily go next door. We can look across to this beautiful terrain, what we’d love to be in, but we can’t be there because we don’t have the permit or we don’t have enough user days for that. So we’re finding that the, the access, um, conundrum here in the US as well as, um, the impacts of climate change and more extreme weather is both, uh, Adding tremendous challenge to our operations as training and examining guides and climbing instructors.

That’s certainly one of our biggest risks. Right.

[00:35:30] Jordy Shepherd: Yep. We’re facing similar issues in Canada here too. And for your guides and instructors, what are some of the things, uh, issues facing them as, as individual members of the association?

[00:35:44] Angela Hawse: Yeah, I think that’s a really important question too, and. The, the real challenge, which goes back to one of our previous conversations was, uh, the public perception of, um, a trained and certified guide.

Uh, there just, there’s a lot of competition out there with guides who aren’t AMGA members and guides who haven’t been trained. Um, and I think, uh, it’s a challenge for our membership to differentiate the. And, you know, that goes back to, um, the bandwidth of the organization to be able to promote what a hiring, a trained, certified guide is, um, to the public.

And, um, there’s that challenge is the public, uh, lack of understanding of. Is your guide trained or certified? And what does that mean? And then there’s the challenge of rising insurance costs, of difficulties getting, uh, permits, um, to operate in a lot of these places. There, uh, there there’s a tremendous amount of work.

Uh, the structure in the United States has generally been you work for a, a guide service and you have, you know, they provide all the permits and the insurance and the marketing and the clients and, and they provide you with, you know, steady work throughout the season. And, and that’s been a model is great, but it also has been a model that, uh, makes it really challenging for guides to branch off onto their own and build their own businesses.

Uh, because there’s just a, a real, um, limited resource that we’re all competing for in a way. And that’s the access to our public lands where, uh, the. Place the PL prime places where our cl we want to take our clients, you know, the Grand Tetons, the Mount Rainier, the El Caps, the Denalis, you know, and there’s a real limited resource for, um, that for our members once they, they graduate and, and get their certifications.

[00:37:51] Chris Kaipio: What do you think other organizations can learn from the AMGA?

[00:37:55] Angela Hawse: That’s a, that’s a great question. I think there’s a lot. Organizations can learn, um, from each other. Uh, but certainly from the AMGA I think is that we’ve. Remain true to our mission and that that’s critical to longevity and supporting your members is that long-term, uh, strategic planning, but also the ability to think on your feet and adapt to.

Current challenges such as we did during Covid and, uh, the Black Lives Matter crisis. Um, I think its that organizational resiliency is to really know where to trim the fat around the edges when you have to, and, uh, rise to the challenges of the times to, um, create value for your members.

[00:38:57] Chris Kaipio: I find that to make everything that you just said happen, you need to have good leadership within the organization.

And I’ve served on, you know, two boards now and lots of different committees, and I’ve seen lots of different committee chairs. They’ve seen lots, well, a few different presidents. And the strength of advancing everything you just said. Totally relies on someone to push these things forward and to have that strategic vision.

And if you are missing that, then it becomes a real struggle. And it, and it’s hard for a lot of these organizations because, um, they are driven mostly by volunteers. Some of the bigger ones, the ACMG, you know, AMGA and Avalanche Canada. There’s also, there’s Paddle Canada and there’s a number of others, the CSIA that have, um, a lot.

I shouldn’t say a lot of resources, but certainly enough resources to hire. You know, professionals that can, can run a lot of the day-to-day. But for all of these smaller organizations that have members in the, you know, the tens and dozens and hundreds, um, they don’t have that. And it really rests on the efforts of volunteers that are just driven solely by passion and interest and.

That, um, commitment to providing service. And it sounds corny to say that, but it, it is true, like having gotten involved in some of these organizations, I mean, they are really amazing. People that are doing it. I look at, you know, the two of you, I mean, Jordy is on, uh, it’s kind of a little bit annoying for me to try to get Jordy to spend time, uh, on the podcast here because he is, he is like volunteering for all of these different things because he’s such a service-based.

Person. Right? He’s the kind of guy that shows up and says, well, that’s not getting done. Well, okay, I’ll chair that committee. Oh, that’s not getting done. Okay, I’ll chair that committee. And I’m like, come on, Jordy, like, your wife must be pulling her hair out here. And, but that’s, but that’s true, right? That’s the way these things, they run.

[00:41:07] Angela Hawse: Absolutely critical.

Yeah, my wife actually left me because I was putting too much work into the organization. It’s true. I mean, I find myself very much like Jordy. It’s like I just, I’m a fixer, you know, if, if nothing’s getting done, I want to jump in there and fix it and, uh, That, that’s amazing for, um, organizations to have so much passion that’s driven by volunteers, but it’s also, that’s been a very humbling thing for me to learn is like they, it can also really challenge an organization’s effectiveness when you have passionate volunteers that, that have all these great ideas.

When you test the person that’s charged, say your executive director, who’s leading the organization operationally with all these great ideas, but without the resources to get it done, that it, it can really create a lot of stress. It can really create a lot of um, uh, just. Difficulty for the person, the executive director that’s managing it all, because of course they want to do it all.

They think these are great ideas as well, but show me the money. Show me the money. Where is this going to come from? And and. A lot of, uh, boards such as ours are elected members that are guides and in climbing instructors, not all of them. We have some appointed directors as well, um, that bring other facets of professionalism to the board.

But, um, our board isn’t necessarily. Our board members don’t come in knowing how to be board members. So, there’s a huge learning curve for volunteers who are serving for these organizations to learn what governance means, to learn what the role of the board is in, um, kind of big picture organizational oversight and not the day-to-day operations of like what it takes to, to run the board in order to maintain.

Resilience and, and durability to go, you know, go the distance to be a successful growing organization into the future. And so it, I think it’s just really critical that young organizations realize that like what you can actually do and accomplish is. Critically dependent on the resources that you can provide the person that’s tasked with doing ’em, because you have to have the resources in order to, to make things happen.

And, um, ideas are great, but they don’t necessarily always have dollar amounts attached to them to, to execute.

[00:43:49] Chris Kaipio: Uh, you’re, you’re so, you’re so right on all of those levels now, how do you think the public can help these organizations.

[00:44:00] Angela Hawse: That is a great question. Uh, I think the public can help these organizations by, first, the public needs to know what these organizations do to even want to help us.

So we have to do a better job at engaging the public and. Sharing our message as to the value of our organizations. But what the public can do is, is look for, um, people that are members of professionals, that are members of these organizations and, and hire them. Get out with a train and certified guide or instructor and experience, uh, the outdoors in your adventures with someone who has gone through a high level of training and is committed as a professional to be the best that they can be.

[00:44:48] Chris Kaipio: So, one last question. What do you think the future holds for the adventure delivery?

[00:44:55] Angela Hawse: I think the future of the adventure delivery industry is incredibly bright. Uh, I think it’s, uh, very exciting, um, that we may be looking more locally rather than traveling all over the globe and that we realize the.

Resources and the carbon footprint that we all have and are, um, responsible for that we start to seek adventures closer to home that keep us a little bit more connected and grounded to where we live and our communities and, um, look for new ways to have adventures together. I think it’s, you know, I think the adventure delivery industry has never really suffered through all.

The tough times with the economy and, um, struggles, uh, that we’ve seen come and go. Um, people always have money to spend on leisure and people always are motivated to get out and enjoy the outdoors and, um, that. We have more and more guides. The instructors that are trained to provide these opportunities for the public is, uh, extremely exciting that, uh, I just think the future is very bright for our industry.

[00:46:21] Chris Kaipio: Okay, thanks for this, Angela. We’re going to let you go here and we wish you the best in this season to come. If you’d like to learn more about the American Mountain Guide Association, we’ve posted a link to the A M G A in our show notes. Well, Jordy, what were some of your takeaways or additions to what Angela had to say about how organizations deliver adventure?

[00:46:46] Jordy Shepherd: Well, Chris, this is a great conversation and as usual, there’s a lot to. Let’s start with how these organizations get started. These organizations start small and they evolve. As Angela mentioned, the AMGA started off trying to unite guides. Over time, the AMGA has evolved to become a major training body to provide membership support and, uh, advocate for the protection of access for all.

I think it’s really important to note that every organization tends to start with a small number of people rallying around a small number of objectives. It might be creating training standards, providing education to the public, advocating for stewardship, safety, or access, or to provide member benefits or even to promote an activity or why people should hire guides and instructors.

As Curtis Pawliuk stated in episode 19, this is often done by the STP committee, which is the same 10 people in any organization. That said, having worked inside some associations and having belonged to others, these organizations tend to evolve over time. It’s kind of like people, as they get older, they mature using the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides as an example, that association started with a focus on member services and certification, and then evolved into looking at better governance, evolving strategic priorities, and improving internal and external communication.

[00:48:05] Chris Kaipio: No, that’s a really good point, Jordy. And just to add to this, any blend can add on to these organizations to help them to evolve. And I’m going to share a personal story that I have that relates to the Recreational Canoe Association of BC in 2016, RCABC was developing a guide training program. The association was looking at creating the first canoe guide certification for multi-day trip.

At the time, I’d been delivering training for canoe Guides, doing guided day trips in Whistler. One day I went to a meeting where the details of the new guide certification were being unveiled. I didn’t know anyone at that meeting, and I hadn’t done anything for RCABC other than pay my dues up until that point.

The short version of this story is that listening to that meeting, I recognize that there was an opportunity to create a new training program to better train and certify day guides. I pitched my idea at the meeting, and within five weeks I was delivering the new program. I quickly found myself on the RCABC Board of Directors.

Since then, I’ve helped to start RCABC’s Pro Purchase Program to benefit members and have overhauled the. In time, other people will add on to what I’ve done, and in some cases, that has already happened. This is how these organizations evolve. I’m sharing this as anyone can get involved and anyone can drive change.

On this front, I wrote a whole book on how people can use their influence more effectively to create positive. And the second point I just want to tag onto here is that these organizations are run by passionate people who often volunteer a lot of their time.

[00:49:52] Jordy Shepherd: Yeah. Great discussion there, Chris. And for those of you that are interested, uh, in some ideas on how to, uh, be better with people and especially in these types of.

Education environments and organizations will put a link to Chris’s book to purchase that in the show notes. So Chris, I also think it’s worth noting that firstly, organizations are not faceless entities. They’re groups of people. I often hear members refer to their organizations as if, if it’s, if it’s some sort of, uh, unmovable, lifeless entity, when really, they’re just a group of people that really care about what they’re doing.

They can be contacted, influenced, and they can often appreciate positive feedback. And lastly, these organizations are essential. For example, avalanche Canada has done an amazing job of communicating risk and conditions to the public, as well as educating thousands of people every year to help them have safer experiences in the backcountry.

Many of these organizations are looking out for the public interest in a way that government can’t, and as these groups are usually comprised of the real experts in the field, it’s really. Quite, quite amazing how, uh, how much they contribute and how hardworking the people are in

[00:51:07] Chris Kaipio: behind. So, let’s turn this over to you, the listener.

Do you belong to an organization or are you perhaps in a leadership role of an association or group? We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. As always, you can find our contact details in the show notes or at our website delivering adventure dot. There are many great organizations out there, and we would like to thank them all for fulfilling their role when it comes to delivering adventure.

This brings us to the end of another episode. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to click the follow button in your podcast player so that you don’t miss out on future episodes. Your time is important and we thank you very much for listening.

Join the discussion

  • This was a great listen. Obviously there are so many great organizations out there that are supporting Adventure, but one that I feel needs recognition is the PMBIA. A local organization that has grown into an internationally recognized industry standard in mountain bike instruction.

    Thanks for the podcast! Lots of ideas that I am able to share with my students. I am excited to hear what case studies are coming in the future.

    • Thanks Jason. Great point about the value of PMBIA. This is another great example of an organization providing an important service by training and certifying mountain bike guides and instructors. Thanks for listening and sharing with others!

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