Thinking Outside of OUR Box

October 2017

Have you ever done something repeatedly for so long now that you’ve never stopped to consider that there might be a better way to accomplish the same task? A new fresh approach and outlook may result in a faster, more efficient, cheaper, and less demanding way of accomplishing the same thing. You might even be able to do more with less, who knows. I think that all of us are susceptible to just settling in and enjoying, or at least accepting the status quo for now.

Recently, our good friends with the Iowa State Snowmobile Association (ISSA) reached a “historic point” as Chris Willey, president of ISSA shared with us recently. In early 2017, the ISSA worked with Iowa Legislatures and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to basically allow the ISSA to take over the administration and grooming of the Iowa snowmobile trails.

This effort was motivated by the need, much like our own; to insure that the snowmobile registration and trail permit user fees are getting to where they are needed most — to maintain their local snowmobile trails. Special committees have been assembled and approved to administer club grants, groomer placement and repairs, groomer operator training and licensing, and general administration of the program. The Iowa DNR will continue to provide registration, law enforcement, and safety education oversight. The ISSA and its subcommittees will manage the rest of the Iowa Snowmobile Program, including ownership and operation of the groomer fleet placed with the Iowa snowmobile clubs.

Time to Try Some New Ideas

The ISSA and Review and Selection Committee (RSC) are now fully responsible for the administration and grooming of Iowa snowmobile trails. MSA would like to congratulate ISSA President Chris Willey and all those volunteers who made this restructuring a reality. Iowa was thinking outside of the box!

As you get more involved in non-profit organizations and clubs such as MSA, you quickly learn that a very small percentage of the membership actually does most of the work. It takes volunteers to tackle what Iowa just did. If you remember in the years past, MSA hosted some really fun and memorable Ride Ins that attracted hundreds of snowmobilers. It was a big event for MSA and very well attended. My wife and I went to our first MSA Ride In when it was held in Sault St. Marie more than 10 years ago. It was during this Ride In that we realized we want to get involved in organized snowmobiling.

We met some friends that weekend from our own hometown, and to this day we see them at our local snowmobile club meetings and rides. It was fun back then and can be again today, with some fresh ideas. Of course we have had some dismal winters that definitely put a damper on our plans, and caused poor attendance and cancellations. We need to make things fun again!

After talking to our Indiana friends to the south, plans are being made for the 1st Annual ISA-MSA Ride  In to be held in our state after the New Year. Tentative dates are Jan 18-20 at Bay Mills. Plans are being finalized, so stay tuned for more information. The ISA has some great ideas. They have had many successful events — with great reviews. I’m really looking forward to hearing their ideas and meeting new friends with this joint venture. I think that it’s healthy to take a break once in a while, and watch and learn from others.

One of the many pleasures of attending the International Snowmobile Congress (ISC) every year is renewing old friendships and gaining new friends. My hope is that this event will be similar, and by combining efforts, this will be a great experience for all of us! Again, we need to think outside of the box and try some new ideas if we want to be successful!

Always Open to Suggestions

One of our challenges in MSA, like other organizations I guess, is being open to new ideas and suggestions. It’s no secret that the majority of our membership is either retired or nearing retirement age. I don’t know if we have ever done a demographic survey or not, but I think it would be interesting to see what the age break downs look like of our membership and see where everyone is from. Of course we have the addresses of our members, but it would be interesting to plot the residences and businesses of our members on a map of Michigan and surrounding states of those who support MSA. Sounds like a project, any volunteers?

It’s really up to all of us to continue to bring fresh ideas to the table and discuss solutions to our challenges by thinking outside of the box. Tunnel Vision is the enemy! The younger generation always has new ideas, if we are brave enough to embrace them. Let’s encourage our newer and younger generation to get involved. Invite them to some of the projects that you are doing. Let them help with trail signing, groomer maintenance, brushing, etc. But remember when we were younger? Keep it fun and engaging and remind yourself that the attention span of a younger person is sometimes shorter than ours, or maybe it’s the other way around for some of you like me. Anyway, I’d like to encourage you to give us your ideas this season.

Try and Try Again

One thing that I heard when I got involved in the MSA arena that I have to admit was and still is frustrating at times; “We have tried that before and it just didn’t work.” Not only does that response shut down the one who is going out on a limb to share his/her ideas. It is narrow minded as well. Hey, if it sounds like I’m preaching here, I’m not. As your MSA president, I’m looking directly in the mirror as I write this. Maybe the first attempt was poorly executed, or the timing was not perfect. Maybe it wasn’t a great idea to begin with, but we all need to be encouraged to get involved and try new ideas. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

Later this year our treasurer John Houk will be stepping down as treasurer. He has competed his term and has volunteered for eight years as treasurer! John, on behalf of all who are reading this — thank you!  Fortunately, we already have nominees for the new treasurer position and again, I’m looking for new ideas on how we can better manage our finances. We again are facing challenging times and need to find ways to increase our membership/revenue and also control our spending. Unlike Iowa, we still are somewhat at the mercy of our state legislatures and have little control of how we would like things to be managed differently. It seems like a broken record when you thumb through years of past issues of this magazine, but here we again. We need additional revenue to remain solvent. We have been here for too long now, struggling with the same issues. It’s time for change. It takes a collective effort to change the course of an organization as large as ours.

MSA — let’s think outside of the box, and let’s start moving forward together!