As the membership director for the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) it is part of my job to answer the question, “Why should I be a member of ADK?” It might be helpful for me to share my story.

Way back in the late 1980’s, I purchased an ADK guide book and dabbled in hiking a few of the high peaks in the Adirondacks. A glorious fall day on Big Slide, the autumn colors deep and brilliant, hooked me in, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.  There was a lag of 5 or 6 years, but after a life-changing event I felt the need to reconnect with the mountains. I joined ADK in 1997 primarily because I wanted to hike and none of my friends did. It took me a couple of years to muster the courage to actually sign up for a hike though. I was initially a bit nervous. Can I do the hike? Will I be too slow? Will anybody talk to me? I shouldn’t have worried! ADKers are a great bunch of folks. They made me feel instantly comfortable. I got all sorts of great information about what gear to buy, what to wear, and what to put in my pack. From that moment on I was off and running (or should I say hiking)!

Spending time sitting on a mountain top surrounded by the incomparable beauty of the wilderness made me realize how important it is to preserve these areas. Whether it’s your local state park, the Catskills, or the Adirondacks, having wild lands and waters available to both people and wildlife is so crucial. I’m grateful and I appreciate that my membership dues help protect these areas.

And then there’s the companionship of others who share how I feel about the mountain lakes and peaks. ADK provided me the opportunity to be with people who also loved the outdoors. I have forged wonderful relationships and life-long friendships because of this. I am a much richer and fuller person because of ADK.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s even more that hooked me in! Over the years, I’ve also taken advantage of other benefits ADK offers. There are discounts on ADK merchandise, programs, lodging, and parking (the parking discount adds up pretty quickly when you hike every weekend). Another benefit I absolutely love is the exclusive access to adventure trips to nearly all corners of the world. I’ve traveled with ADK to Europe, Canada, and domestically. I’ve visited the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, Glacier National Park, the Canadian Rockies and Switzerland.  All of these trips provided incredible scenery, with the company of incredible people.

Four years ago, I had the opportunity to join ADK’s staff and manage the membership program. It’s been wonderful to go from being a member and volunteer, to being responsible for encouraging folks to join ADK on a daily basis. Now putting on my membership director boots for a minute, I need to add that membership dues help ADK fund a broad range of diverse programs. Membership support contributes to programs such as maintaining and improving trails, lobbying for the protection of our precious resources, gaining access to spectacular recreational opportunities, teaching children about natural resources, and coordinating the summit steward program. We’ve adopted the slogan ADK CARES(Conservation, Advocacy, Recreation, Education, and Stewardship) to embody the work that ADK does. Your membership shows you care too!

I would love to hear why you joined ADK! Or even why you haven’t joined ADK. And if you aren’t a member and would like to be, you can join here.

See you on the trails!

Laurie Schweighardt

Laurie Schweighardt is the Adirondack Mountain Club’s  Membership Director. She has worked for ADK since 2009 and previously was a volunteer for the Albany Chapter. Laurie has a B.S. in Marketing from Seton Hall University and a M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Laurie is a winter 46er and a Catskill winter 35er. In addition to being an avid hiker, Laurie enjoys cross country skiing, playing guitar, and traveling.