By Scott Massey, Advocacy Director
The inaugural AMGA Round Table Discussion took off to a great start early March 2014 in Brevard, NC. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Arc’teryx, we are able to bring the discussion on guiding advocacy out to our membership. Quite a wide variety of organizations were represented, including several guide services, university outdoor programs, and North Carolina Outward Bound School. It was great to have such a diversity of opinion lending itself to a lively and productive discussion.
The event was held at the Transylvania County Library, and began with the brand new Arc’teryx Spring 2014 promo video, followed by a presentation from Advocacy Director Scott Massey, updating folks on recent changes and initiatives within the AMGA. These ranged from our brand audit and new brand platform, to new logos, terminology, and terrain standards, to both reactive and proactive advocacy efforts. The floor was then opened up to discussion and questions.
One big topic was the AMGA’s marketing and outreach efforts to the general public. Folks expressed their experiences with climbers being unfamiliar with the AMGA in general, and that training and certification is terrain-specific, as being challenging to their marketing efforts. This led into how proper use of the new logos and new terminology would start to create a cultural foundation for this change, as well as other areas where the AMGA is working to address this concern. Overall, there was consensus that the AMGA can better serve its members by increasing its outreach efforts.
Specific regional issues that were discussed included thoughts on credential-based access as they apply to the many state and privately owned lands, how credentialed instructors fit into the scheme of the many camps that operate climbing programs in the vicinity, and how to successfully integrate and coordinate local land manager outreach and education with the AMGA’s efforts.
Another topic that generated much discussion was the Board’s recent decision to pursue “Accreditation-Based Access” as the strategic advocacy direction. While this terminology raised some hackles, the bigger idea of our true goal – to pursue minimum business standards that include terrain-specific training as a prerequisite for holding a mountain guiding or climbing instruction permit on federally managed public lands – was more well-accepted. Much of the talk revolved around whether or not the revised Terrain and Supervision Guidelines would help or hinder this goal, and how to work with outdoor education and other types of organizations that do technical activities.
As a whole, it was great to hear everyone’s thoughts and feedback. Thanks to everyone who attended – it was encouraging to see such a good turnout, and have such a civil discourse about our common issues. The next Round Table will be held on Monday, May 12th in Bishop, CA. We look forward to seeing you there!