On community collaboration efforts and the NENSA events held in Bethel, The Bethel Outing Club (BOC) is awarded NENSA’s 2017 Club of the Year. The Bethel Outing Club provides affordable access for all to cross-country skiing and people powered sports such as hiking, bicycling, running, paddling, swimming and roller skiing. This club in Bethel is made up of warm-hearted, community minded people from a beautiful area in Western Maine. The club has a Bill Koch League, year round programming, and annual events like the Flying Moose.
This past year alone, the club had volunteers at NENSA’s New England Women’s XC Ski Day in January, ran their annual Flying Moose race and hosted the New England Bill Koch League Festival (NEBKL Festival). All of these events rely on volunteers to organize and staff the events in sometimes varying snow and weather conditions like the very cold NEBKL Festival. Wade Kavanaugh, Bethel Outing Club Coach and 2017 NEBKL Festival Co-Chair, says that “the BOC has a tremendously committed corps of volunteers. Bethel is a town of 2,000 people, most of whom seem to volunteer most of their weekends to keep all of the events in town rolling. The Bill Koch Festival was a great example of people coming together to make an event happen in challenging and changing conditions. When I ask our volunteers what motivates them to keep coming out, I often hear that people just love seeing kids on skis!”
In December, the Bethel Outing Club also started a collaboration effort with Mahoosuc Pathways to create the Bethel Village Trails. Both of these non-profits worked together to keep the Nordic Center open at the Bethel Inn & Resort, maintain and groom the trails and provide programming, lessons and clinics. This effort took a lot of volunteer hours for club members over the winter. “The Bethel Outing Club is made of regular folks who are passionate about Nordic skiing and they will do whatever it takes to get more people on skis. This winter was so full of opportunities for the club, from jumping into a new collaborative to run a Nordic ski center to hosting the BKL Festival. Not once did I hear anyone say “we can’t, it was always “what needs to be done”. I love working with people who follow their passion to make things happen, it is very inspiring. The members of the BOC are so deserving of this NENSA award,” said Suzanne Pierce, Bethel Outing Club Coach and Central/Western Maine Bill Koch League District Chair.
“The winter of 2016-2017 was by far the busiest in the history of the Bethel Outing Club. From taking over the Bethel Village Trails operation along with Mahoosuc Pathways, the Bethel Inn and Gould Academy at Thanksgiving, to producing or helping to produce the NENSA Women’s Day, the Telstar Relays, the Veterans No Boundaries program, the Flying Moose, and last but not least, the Bill Koch Festival, our members were extremely busy from before the first snowflake to after the last. As a testament to our community, the volunteer spirit actually grew stronger as the season progressed, not weaker. We learned from each event to make the next even better. We drew strength from the adversity, and redoubled our efforts, something that came in handy when we had to move the venue for the BKF at the last minute due to the weather. Our club is growing and enthusiastic, and now that we see what we can actually accomplish, we are even more excited to host local, regional and NENSA events in the future.
We are very honored to receive the 2017 NENSA Club of the Year award. I’m happy to accept it on behalf of all of the Bethel Outing Club members, past and present. Having been in existence over 35 years, many, many people have contributed to the capacity of our organization. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants, and we are pleased to be able to represent them well.” said Norm Greenberg, BOC President.
NENSA is excited to work with the Bethel Village Trails and the Bethel Outing Club in 2019 when they will be hosting the NENSA U16 Championships!