We often hear about what you can do to help your snowmobile club—but here’s one rider’s take on how volunteering can plug you into a very useful new network, the “LinkedIn” of snowmobiling.
Organized snowmobiling in Ontario offers two very important networks, only one of which is on the snow. (The OFSC’s Interactive Trail Guide really puts it—the snowmobile trail network—into perspective, because none of us can actually ride all 30,000+ kilometres.) Take a look and you can see how this grid of routes connects communities across the province. Zooming in on each district and then the individual clubs lets us see each piece of trail that forms the foundation of this network. Purchasing a trail permit gets us access to this network and provides lifelong opportunities for exploration and creating connections between us snowmobilers and the province we call home.
The other important network within organized snowmobiling consists of its people. There’s a volunteer network throughout Ontario’s snowmobile clubs that’s just as impressive as the trails themselves and that offers equally limitless opportunities to open doors and connect with others.
Connecting with Local Leaders
Each club has a dedicated team, many of whom are local leaders in their respective communities, each with their own distinct set of connections. These volunteers are business owners, doctors, accountants, contractors, IT professionals, police officers, firefighters, mechanics, real estate agents, farmers, retirees, and a myriad of other professionals with unique personal and professional backgrounds—many of whom have decades of experience in their fields. They know the who’s who of the snowmobiling world and within their given industries. Their knowledge, influence, and connections are not only invaluable to our trail system, but also to team members; I know they have been for me.
These volunteer leaders share a drive to get things done that extends well beyond snowmobiling. They make great mentors who are quick to steer you in the right direction, put in a good word, or open a door for you in your personal and professional life. As you branch out in your own career or business ventures, you will find that these types of connections made through networking will become some of your most valuable. Having a professional interest in common is one thing, but sharing an outside hobby or passion too can really create solid, lasting connections.
It’s common for people to decide “it’s an old boys club” and let that stop them from joining the team. It’s not always as it seems, and it doesn’t ever have to be. Sometimes this is the perception because these volunteers are protecting decades of hard work invested in building community connections. This shouldn’t deter you so much as showcase these volunteers as dedicated to the things they care about. Reach out and show what you have to offer the team, even if it’s just a day or few hours of your time. You’ll be surprised at how much difference any contribution at all can make to the trails—and to your personal network. It certainly worked for me!
Personal Experience & Connections
I’ve been involved with various snowmobile clubs for more than 15 years. As a volunteer for the Timmins Snowmobile Club, I had the opportunity to join a ride with Bruce Robinson who was then president of the OFSC. During that ride from Timmins to Kirkland Lake, I learned that the OFSC was looking to fill the role at the corporate office in Barrie and soon found myself in the position. Mentored by Mike Farr, one of the most knowledgeable trails guys around, I had the opportunity to lead initiatives like the development of the new Interactive Trail Guide and iSnowmobile App. It was through both this job and continuing to volunteer for clubs that I met some of my best friends, mentors, and snowmobile buddies.
I’m proud to say I’m now connected with influencers all over Ontario—people from hundreds of communities and from all walks of life. I’m proud to be able to say that my network now includes Rick from Port Perry, Luc The Groomer Guy from Dubreuilville, Kenny from Cochrane, Audrey from Kenora, Graham from Kitchener, and George from Ottawa—and yes, I even know Bob from Muskoka. This list of snowmobile club friends goes on and on—name a city or town in Ontario, and odds are I have a sledding connection there.
Living the Dream
You can bet my winters are filled with awesome riding opportunities. Believe it or not, this has even extended to all seasons: motorcycling in the spring, boating in the summer, and ATVing in the fall (let's admit it—lots of these are multi-season, really). There are also many social events, because these folks do much more than snowmobiling. Whenever I’ve needed advice, an opinion, or support, this network of snowmobilers has always come through.
It has helped me tremendously in my career; connections with the likes of Claude Aumont of Ontario Tourism, the Lester’s from Supertrax Media, and of course, Craig Nicholson, The Intrepid Snowmobiler, to name a few, have all been tremendously important. I’ve been in countless snowmobiling videos and magazines, and now, at least partly because of my network, I work for Yamaha Motor Canada and I couldn’t be prouder! A snowmobiler’s dream… you bet!
None of this would have been possible without the networking, connections, mentorship, and friendship of countless OFSC club volunteers. And, as they have for me, you can leverage this powerful network today to make your dreams come true tomorrow, no matter what those may be.