Having Fun Comes First!

Once upon a time, Karen and her husband Doug attended their very first club meeting with BEAST. Neither were sure what to expect or what it was all about. Shortly after, they moved to Laurentian Hills just outside of Deep River.

Here is where they met George, who wasted no time in getting Karen and Doug involved with their first significant trail project – a reroute.

From these experiences, Karen’s passion for getting others involved with organized snowmobiling was ignited and is stronger today than ever before.

…….and we are excited to share her experience with you!

Karen’s journey as a volunteer began in 2004 (before the purchase of her snowmobile) when she helped out at a few meetings and participated in one trail work day with her local snowmobile club at the time, BEAST, in District 1. Not knowing what was all involved, Karen’s first experience was so enlightening and positive that it was shortly followed by the purchase of two Yamahas – one for herself and the other for her husband Doug.

After relocating to the Laurentian Hills just past Deep River in 2005, Karen and Doug attended two meetings with their local club where they met George who invited them to take part in the trail work near their camp. Once retired, Karen and Doug took part in their first significant trail project, a reroute – an often under estimated project. But a group of people turned out to pitch in and clear trees and it was the first most memorable social event that ensured Karen never turned down an opportunity to pitch  in. Karen remains friends with many of the folks from this day and this is by far one of the greatest rewards that volunteering with organized snowmobiling offers here in Ontario.

To this day, Karen believes:

“Volunteers want to have fun first and get some work done as a bonus and I am a big advocate for the social benefits. If people enjoy what they’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Once Doug first became Director of the North Renfrew Snowmobile Club, Karen wanted to bring her passion for people to the role of Volunteer Coordinator. The club was in a rebuilding stage during this time and although at times it felt like a struggle, as new leadership came into place and people began working together, volunteers became family. And like all families, they did their best to remain focused on the big picture.

Still to this day, club members are willing to help out their fellow volunteers outside of the organization confirming the sense of community within the community that Karen, alongside her husband Doug are grateful and honored to be a part of.

When asked what Karen felt was one of the greatest accomplishments locally since first getting involved, she was quick to respond with Deep River embracing organized snowmobiling and recognizing the significant economic impact to local businesses during the winter months. The result is that today, Deep River and Laurentian Hills work together in assisting the Clubs including park and ride plowing, groomer shed storage and much more!

It’s always interesting to hear directly from our volunteers about what they feel has changed the most since they first got involved.  Over the last 17 years, Karen believes the biggest change has been in our people as our older generation pass the torch to the newcomers. Overall, this is resulting in more focus on the big picture and sustainability of our sport into the future.

In addition to her role(s) at the Club, Karen has taken on various responsibilities at both the district and provincial level and today still actively sits on the OFSC Volunteer Development Committee. As someone who has worked with Karen in my staff role, there are very few like Karen and when asked to help out, her answer is always a resounding YES. But it’s bigger than that, my inbox has countless emails from Karen offering to do something she feels could use some extra attention and mostly, ensuring if others feel overwhelmed, Karen is the first one to raise her hand and try and alleviate the burden.

Karen exemplifies the title “Ontario Snowmobiling Ambassador” and represents the organization in a positive light at every opportunity. She ensures everyone feels welcome and that their contribution matters, no matter how big or how small. Even better, new volunteers gain confidence through extra reassurance from Karen as she takes the time to figure out what someone can and wants to do and follows through by ensuring that they get a chance to take part even once.

In speaking with the Chair of the Volunteer Development Committee, he was eager to share these thoughts:

“I have had the pleasure to work with Karen on the Volunteer Development Committee for the last 3 years and she has really made a difference. Her passion for recruiting has helped the group come up with recommendations like the new youth and woman volunteer recognition awards introduced in the fall. Karen shares ideas freely to ensure all clubs can take advantage of the success she has brought to her district. I look forward to working with her in the future.” Zen S

We can’t wait to see what Karen will be up to this season!

Photos and content provided by: Karen C.