Many small organizations have growing pains, mostly associated with attendance and activities. Our group has not avoided that. There have been ample camps and treks, but the attendance has been relatively sparse: mostly folks from the western areas, excepting, of course, the eastern factor, Harry Carlson.
Howdy Davis, the Chief Factor, has been giving this situation a lot of thought. "How," he asked me over a schooner of a local grain mixture the other day, "are members supposed to complete the requirements for advancement?"
I thought that over for a split second before giving my considered opinion. "Itís all in the by laws. As for when that is spelled out and should be no problem," I responded as I deftly fended off his question. "And," I anticipated his next move, "folks are expected to get it done without being cajoled or carped on about it."
Howdy is a sharp man, not to be put off. :Look," he began, and I knew I was surrounded by logic impossible to argue against. "We are a small group that is scattered about the entire country. If you are the only member for miles and miles it is difficult to work up the enthusiasm to get out and get those things taken care of. Itís really hard to even identify with the organization if there are no other members close enough to get together with. Weíve had a number of rendezvous and camps spread over a large geographic area but one that is far from the members in the east." When he is in earnest Howdy has a penetrating gaze that commands attention so I knew he was being dead serious. "You know that we have given notice enough in advance for folks to make plans to attend, but perhaps that has just not been enough for folks to get plans going in todayís economy to get out west." He jabbed my knee with a finger stiff and hard as a railroad spike."Oleís idea about having next yearís rendezvous with the national western over at Creede may or may not happen and even if we do and put out a notice right now it would not give enough time for eastern members to make vacation plans. Weíre behind the power curve on that already."
I had to agree. Itís difficult to argue with the truth.
"Hereís the deal," he said. "How about if we make plans for 2011 right now?" He smiled in a way that showed teeth but no humor. "Letís make it easier for folks to get the difficult requirements out of the way. I mean, how many people actually have horses to pack on? How many do you think have canoes? Or, for that matter, even rivers near them? Where do some of them have to shoot? How many have archery gear?"
I didnít have an answer - who would. Those are questions I have not had a way of finding enough data to even make an educated guess about.__
Howdy brought out his idea. "Letís have the annual 2011 rendezvous right up here on my property or at least right here abouts. It can be done in early summer or fall when the bugs are scarce. We can make it a teaching/learning event. Between us we have canoes, horses, space to shoot, targets, hundreds of thousands of acres of mountains and valleys that are public land. There are fine rivers here that make for great canoeing. We can set up camps here and there and provide all the things necessary for folks to pass off the most difficult advancement requirements." His eyes sparkled. "We have plenty of people to give demonstrations and I can and will guide folks from rivers to mountains and back. I can teach a lot of stuff myself." He reached out a calloused hand grabbed my shoulder. "What do ya think? Good plan?"
Well what could I say? This would be the time and the opportunity to get to know the other members of the NAF face to face. The factors could work with the membership to arrange carpools for those who would want to do that. For those who would want to stop each night of the trip out we might be able to arrange motel and restaurant discounts. The Craig, Colorado area is an incredible blend of forest and plain. There are deer, elk, bear, coyotes, rabbits, and mountain lions in there. The fishing is usually really fine and Howdy knows the best places to drop a hook or fly. Family events abound. It was and is a great plan to my way of thinking.
So Iím putting it out to you, the membership. Let your factor, or Howdy, or me, know what you think and if you will be able to make it and when in the year would be best for you if it does come to fruition.