Exec reports - Useful Person

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Current Exec Report

Exec report - Useful Person 2003 - 2013

Anybody discovering the true awesomeness of the Varsity Outdoor Club, couldn't help but want to be involved. But the VOC is a “student run club” and by the time I realized I wanted to be involved, I was no longer a student. I wasn't eligible to be on the Exec. No problem, I just made up an unofficial Exec position for myself. There's lots of things that can be done to make the Club run more smoothly, from helping people to join and welcoming new members, to leading trips (everybody wants to be entertained), to helping out with gear, to working on our real estate arm, the VOC Huts.

I attended Exec Meetings, but I was there not to change the direction of the Club, but to find out where it was going so I could tell the Members. Often I could provide a bit of historical perspective, because the Club has no memory. I could talk about things that happened in the ancient past, things that nobody knew about. If anybody wanted my opinion, I tried to have one available.

Why would I want to be a Useful Person, anyway? I have only begun to understand this recently. Most of us have a need, weak or strong, to be needed. Sometimes this need seems to be satisfied by raising a family. It seems that my need was unusually strong. Maybe my parents told me that I was useless, and I've been trying to prove them wrong. Anyways, once I retired (UBC told me I wasn't useful any more), my need to be useful increased. The Brew Hut got built around then. Of course this is not an official explanation, but it sounds to me like it might be true.

This year has been a challenge. I am getting less tough, unlike most of our Members. I have been known to propose some pretty good trips and then bail on them, so that somebody else had to lead. And I can't even remember the names of most of the ladies in the club, and I'm totally hopeless with the men, so I'm not very useful with membership and gear any more. My skiing isn't graceful, my skis aren't very fat. I'm not good for carrying heavy things like windows up to our Huts, but at least I can still find the huts. And I get bored at Exec meetings.

The Club seems to be evolving at a fast pace as well. Looking at the fall schedule it appeared that we have become basically a merchandising outlet, though this may just be a passing fad. The other nasty which took a lot of rearranging of our lives, was the AMS telling us that we no longer had liability insurance.

How long is the term of office of a Useful Person? Not being elected, I don't expire at the end of the year. But I am becoming a lot less useful. Anybody else want to take on this job? Should have a strong sense of insecurity and poor social skills. Must have been around for a while.

Past Exec Reports

Exec report - Useful Person 2011 - 2012

I've taken to wondering why I would want to be a Useful Person; I guess it's better than being a Useless Person. Giving back is a simple explanation. Here's some of the things I've been doing.

Membership application seems to be responding well to the new software that Marius has created. If I don't spend hours trying to decode handwriting and email addresses, that's OK with me. We have yet to see how the new system copes with the stress of Clubs Days.

I am realizing that I may be warping the Club and misleading people by answering INFO and implying that we are beginner-friendly and we do lots of trips for beginners. For various reasons (liability issues, and the desire to provide more for the non-beginner), we may be getting less beginner-friendly. I hope we won't go back to the "just lead your own trips" approach, but we probably will. Perhaps I should try harder to get others to answer INFO, perhaps by forwarding queries rather than trying to answer them myself.

I find that Exec meetings are no longer fun. I often feel that nothing is accomplished, and we spend way too much time putting out fires and not enough making policy that can be remembered at least to the next meeting. Often problems are discussed, and solutions are proposed, but we didn't need proposed solutions, we need somebody to just do it, somebody other than the President. Seems that we waste a lot of each others time either by not figuring out what we want to say, or by not listening to each other, or by entertaining with personal stories. This is a feature of people who aren't used to running meetings efficiently, and we get a new batch of them every year.

The new thing this year is selling stuff to Members for less than what they would pay elsewhere. My approach is to just get by with spending less, but this does not seem to be popular at the moment. I'm not sure why we suddenly need all this expensive stuff, or whether it appeals to the average Member, or only to the "club-within-a-club" which is active.

So for various reasons, the Club should be looking for more "Useful Persons".

Exec report - Useful Person 2010 - 2011

The Trip Signup Tool may go a long way to deal with my comments above. Various other changes to the Club have made me less useful and I guess that's OK.

Often people come to the Clubroom with specific questions about the Club and it helps if I know everything that is happening, such as where the first aid course is being held, or whether you really need avalanche gear for this trip, or whether signing up for a Brew trip that already has 22 people on it, is a good idea. Fortunately I have the time to try and know everything that is happening.

Answering INFO is just more of the previous paragraph.

I sometimes wonder if by entering new members in the database I am depriving somebody of their elected opportunity, and likewise by answering INFO maybe I am depriving others of the opportunity to learn the answers to some obscure questions, and how to be polite to strangers. But I still enjoy doing it, so I guess I'll keep on.

Exec report - Useful Person 2009 - 2010

Useful Person: Roland Burton

Same old. Trying to make sure that people who want to join, can do so. Trying to be honest with people when they think they want to join, but they aren't sure. With way more members this year, the task of keeping the computer up to date is getting really annoying. Sure would be nice if people could enter their own information.

If we claim that there will be lots of beginner-friendly trips throughout the year, then we have to make sure there are trips, by leading them. This has been frustrating because there is no incentive to not sign up for a trip, whether or not you will actually go on it. This results in, paradoxically, small trips and lots of people bailing. We need to somehow penalize people for bailing; maybe charge them $20 to sign up for a trip and they get it back if they actually go on the trip; otherwise their driver gets the $20.

Hut renovation activities at Phelix took up a lot of time this year, but were rewarding as the finished product looks good, and apparently works.

Finally, we should stop claiming that we can find Brew in all weather, or somebody's going to get killed.

Once again it has been a great pleasure to share the enthusiasm, the challenges, and the successes, of other members of the Exec, and to a lesser extent, of the Club.

Exec report - Useful Person 2008 - 2009
Exec report - Useful Person 2007 - 2008
Exec report - Useful Person 2006 - 2007

Exec report - Useful Person 2003 - 2004

Useful Person has it good. He is responsible only to himself, and tries to fill in the slack from some of the other Exec. Typical tasks from the past year have included:

  • Making sure that people who want to join the Club can do so; making sure they know what they need to do to join, and helping where possible; taking their money and, important, entering their membership information in the computer. Members have a right to have their membership application processed in a timely manner.
  • Making sure gear is available to members who wish to take it out. This has included purchase of gear and building of backcountry skis. This past year 2003/4 we bought three shovels and asembled five pairs of B/C skis, and bought several pairs of leather boots. (And a Coleman Catalytic Heater for Sphinx)
  • Making sure that at least a few hikes or other outdoor trips are available to the average member, not just my friends (though my friends are more fun usually).
  • Offering encouragement for anybody who would like to either maintain our Huts, or replace Brew, though so far this has met with very little results.

Though anyone who is so inclined can be a Useful Person, this position is ideally suited to Staff, ie non-student Members, as only Students may run for the usual Exec positions.