Report From the 2024 AMC Annual Summit

February 21, 2024

Contributors: Andrew Ricci (Facilties Chair), Ed Spirko (Chapter Chair), Greg Kanhai (DEI Chair)

AMC’s Annual Summit is held each January. This year’s Summit, held on January 20th in
Norwood, MA, included the Annual Business Meeting, AMC Board elections and many sessions
on The AMC organization, Volunteer Leadership, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and
Conservation and Research activities.

This one-day event includes a full schedule of learning opportunities in addition to award
presentations and social time to meet with members of AMC Staff and members of the other
10 AMC chapters.  15 Members from the NY-NoJ chapter attended this year.

Below are highlights from three of us who attended.

A major takeaway I have from the weekend is gaining a much better overall understanding of
the scope, complexity and structure of the organization.  While I have been an AMC member
for 24 years, I never had a good grasp of all the various (11) chapters, committees,
subcommittees, publications, conservation programs and services offered by the club and how
they are interrelated to each other.

It was a busy and engaging day. The Business Meeting on Saturday was a welcome introduction to the directors and folks who are at the core of the organization.

From the morning sessions, I learned about all the various ways members can volunteer their
time, skills and energy with the AMC – and there is much to choose from and contribute to!  I
also learned about the dizzying array of items that are found in a leader’s pack to ensure a safe
expedition into the wild backcountry areas and how best to assess, address and make
decisions under pressure during various emergency situations that can arise.

The lunch program honored the many unsung heroes who dedicate their time and expertise to
the AMC.
A session with Crystal Mandler, VP of Technology, introduced new and fresh thinking about the
Outdoor Connector project which will replace the current data base for events.

The evening happy hour was a great opportunity to meet and mingle with members of other
chapters, get to know our own NY-NoJ ExComm members better, and meet and become
acquainted with AMC President Nicole Zussman and even get a photo with Nicole and some of
the NY-NoJ participants.

AMC facilities have new energetic and energizing leadership. Helmut Rueckert sat down with
us and introduced himself as the new Executive Vice President of Lodging & Hospitality for the
AMC.  It was fascinating hearing about how he grew up in Germany working at the inns owned
and operated by his family, then emigrating to the US as a young man and taking that
experience to start a long and successful career in the hospitality industry.  It quickly became
apparent his years working for both international hotel conglomerates and Hostelling
International USA combined with his ebullient enthusiasm for the AMC will inject vigor into the
numerous AMC lodges, camps and huts for the benefit of staff and guests alike.  As Helmut
plans to visit every destination in the upcoming year, under his oversight, I expect we’ll hear
about tremendous improvement in the service offered at these locations.

All in all, I left with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm to begin my new role as the Facilities
and Services Chair along with a clearer understanding of the greater organization and with a
clearer vision about how I can utilize my skills, strengths and interests to contribute to its
growth and success for our Chapter and the AMC as a whole.

Summaries from two Sessions:
Unpacking Your DEI Toolbox:
1. Stages of Belonging (awareness, inclusion, equity, belonging, empowerment). This is the
process that one wants to go through in growth of awareness.
2. There has to be a culture of willingness to make mistakes in order to learn (ground rules,
alignment not agreement, avoid generalizations, no judgements, create a brave space)
3. The process that works is fun to get buy-in, then effort to induce change and then fun
through belonging.
4. Psychological safety: Manage ourselves as facilitators (stop, look, choose, box breathing,
what channel are we on i.e listen or solve) and manage others through questions
(interventions: distract (distract both to assume good intention of both), direct: telling
person that their behavior is bad, delegate (asking a fourth party to intervene) or delay).
5. The apology: sincerity, understanding, acknowledgment of impact, sustain change,
6. De-escalation training: Avoid promises, give options towards solutions, Explain roles,
Commit to a time frame).

Leader Skill Building: Decision-Making Under Pressure
1. Trip plan with trailhead plan (discuss route and considerations), evacuation route and
emergency action plan and trip debrief after trip (to identify blindspots and unused
2. Practice emergency responses to understand your own stress response (fight, flight,
freeze or fawn) and make contingency plans around them.
3. Continue your education on trip planning and emergency responding.