Article by Del Albright

Dec 23, 2002
Another excellent article from Del Albright.

Do Personalities Rule Your Recreation?
By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador

Is your club ticked off at a neighboring club? Are you drifting away from your club because of the behavior of a few folks? Do you find yourself attending fewer club/group meetings these days? Do you feel like your opinion does not count? Are you tired of the politics and clicks in your club? In other words, do personalities rule your recreation?

In my travels around the country helping folks to get organized and keep trails open, I have seen too much of the above problems. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of great clubs that are doing just fine. But I've seen my share of personalities driving folks away from organized recreation. There are ways to fix that.

I am convinced that our future lies in folks joining and staying active in organized recreation. The more we band together and stay tuned into what's happening with our trails, the better our chances of having a sport in the future. The more we separate or alienate from each other, the less chance we have of surviving as a recreational pursuit. We must be together at every opportunity.

This means that our local clubs/groups must be viable and effective. I am always reminded of the anti-access (radical environmental groups) slogan of *think globally; act locally.* They've got it figured out. They preach keeping the big picture in mind, while taking baby steps at the local level towards achieving the big picture. It works!

In large business corporations and management, there's a concept called the *Swiss cheese* approach. Swiss cheese has a lot of holes in it to make the cheese what it is. When a manager is faced with a tremendously complex task, the Swiss cheese approach is to make one hole at a time until you have your block of cheese done. In other words, like a long hike in the back country, it's just one step at a time until you reach your destination.

This is where the local level involvement is so important. If we're all taking baby steps, punching holes in the big block of Swiss cheese, eventually we'll achieve the big picture -- responsible access for all!

It starts with your local club or group. It starts with a few folks deciding to get past personalities and get something done for the greater good. It starts with a commitment to not let someone else control how you feel about your sport or your club.

If you have personality issues in your club or group, I suggest that before you give up, you confront them head on. Let folks know how you feel and what you expect. Only then can a group or club decide if they want to make changes to accommodate your wishes. But to me, it is such a shame to see someone drop out of a group without letting folks know what's up. It's similar to telling a boss at work what's wrong from your perspective so the problem can be fixed. Many times bosses don't know what the employees know. So by letting someone know there's a problem, at least you give them a chance to fix it.

There's an old saying I use a lot: *A complaint is never legitimate until it's voiced to someone who can fix it.* If personalities are ruling your recreation, then I suggest you speak up and clear the air. Get to the *peace table* and talk it out. Find solutions or compromises that all the parties can live with. But whatever you do, give it a shot before you give up.

When I help folks get past personalities issues, I always remind them that we are not out to change who someone is, only how they behave in our group. If a certain behavior is alienating other club members, then we need to find a way to change that behavior. It can be done, but only through communications that are pretty open and honest.

In the leadership training I give folks, I drive home the point that we must let folks know our expectations -- those things that make us smile and enjoy our sport (or our job or anything else). The same holds true for a club. If you have expectations that are not being fulfilled, then let someone know. By doing so you increase your chances of staying in the game and helping us to punch holes in that big block of cheese.


Del Albright, internationally published columnist, Environmental Affairs Coordinator for CA4WDC and BlueRibbon Coalition Ambassador, has authored volumes over the last 20 years on land use, outdoor recreation, and access. Contact BRC at 800.258.3742 or; or visit Del's Web Site at

Del Albright
BlueRibbon Ambassador, BlueRibbon Coalition Life Member
State Environmental Affairs Coordinator, CA4WDC
Trail Boss, Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR)
Del's Web Site:
Ph: (209) 304-7693 (Cell/Pager)
Ph/FAX: (209) 286-1009 (Office)
8024 S. Main, Mokelumne Hill, CA 95245
Sponsored by: ARB 4x4 Accessories; Rubicon4x4.Com; and the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA).
Jan 12, 2004
Great words from Del.

It's funny because I think I'm coming from a different perspective these days....I was VERY involved in the New England scene, but not "officially."

As of two years ago, I wasn't a member of any clubs, but I was wheeling TONS with clubs and groups because of my side business, AV4X4. I was either holding runs or getting invited along because customers were going. I remained unaffiliated with clubs for a long time because I really didn't want to alienate any one club by not joining (kind of silly in hindsight), but it worked for a while. As a small business I try to do group buys where the profits benefit local trails and other causes that are under the chopping block here in New England.

As of Now, I am a member of Vermont Expedition Society and TLCA (as of 1/20/04) After joining VTXS things just got better (I was on the trail 32 times between May and Sept in '03!!!!)....I had many more opportunities to wheel and to donate time and money to some great groups...I feel TLCA will offer the same opportunities for me.

Now with the clout and camaraderie of the Clubs, I hope to become more and more involved (my Wife and I just found out that we are going to be bringing a new baby into the world at the end of this summer, so there will be plenty to juggle!!!)

Enough of my rambling!

Again great words from Del, thanks for sharing them Tony.

RJ Clayton
Sep 8, 2003
[quote author=Junk link=board=10;threadid=8648;start=msg84170#msg84170 date=1073181719]
Great post Tony. Gets the point across real well.

Looks like you will have afew people signing up to ih8mud and taking you on head on after reading that Del Albright story Junk....... :flipoff2:
Dec 13, 2002
buggerville nj
Gee Shed Guy, I only sent the link around to that post about a month ago. Glad you finally got to it. :flipoff2: yes, though I think there's more than one or two people that have seen enough of my ramblings though.

TOZOVR - congrats on the bun. :beer:
Jun 13, 2003
Funny, I fall into this category myself. My inability to get over some personality caused me to remove myself from all orginized events, clubs etc... for a number of years. I missed a lot. Through the direct intervention of Tony and Shiner I was brought back into the fold
Dec 23, 2002
I often take the greatest pride or enjoyment from the strangest types of compliments...

and this is certainly one of them.

David, if you had not gotten back into the fold and not attended the Round Up, I would have missed meeting one of the more 'colorful' personalities in this sport.

Many thanks!

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