Impact Giving | We Go Beyond Fun

The outdoor community in the PNW is stronger because of the activities Mountaineers volunteers lead and the perspectives they foster. With the generosity of donors and volunteers, our community provides a hub for hard-earned expertise, a connection to each other and to the natural world, and a way to protect the future of outdoor recreation. We go beyond fun; we adventure with purpose.
Mckenzie Campbell Davies Mckenzie Campbell Davies
Annual Giving Manager
January 01, 2023
Impact Giving | We Go Beyond Fun
Tom Bancroft (center) and two fellow naturalists on the Baker River Trail. Photo by Gary Brill.

Like all Mountaineers, our Super Volunteers delight in small moments of frivolity. A cold beverage shared between a paddler and a powerboat. Playing lighthearted pranks during an Urban Walk. Watching the magnificent, performative hunt of a short-eared owl. Community-based fun is the heartbeat of The Mountaineers.

Peel back the layers of fun and you find something more profound. The outdoor community in the PNW is stronger because of the activities Mountaineers volunteers lead and the perspectives they foster. Volunteers share best practices in growing sports. They invite people into an inclusive outdoors. They steward our lands and waters. And they invest in a more connected, more compassionate community. This is all made possible by the generosity and passion of volunteers and donors.

Joel Guay

Sea Kayaker, 6-year member

For people like Joel, sea kayaking is a year-round activity. For
others, it rounds out a slower season and provides valuable
cross training. And there always seem to be folks who are
new to the activity. “Many paddlers start just hoping not to
tip over,” Joel shares, “but very quickly begin to relax and tap
into the fluidity and artistry that makes kayaking increasingly
fun.” Joel loves when people discover joy in perfecting a good
forward stroke, crossing an eddy line, or rolling back up. As
the sport becomes more accessible and more popular, there
is a growing need for seasoned paddlers to lead the way. “Bad
outcomes are increasing as less experienced folks get on the
water. We do what we can to try to affect that trend. We do a
good job of modeling a risk-reasonable approach to what can
be a high-consequence activity.”

Through volunteers like Joel, The Mountaineers creates a
place for expertise to incubate. “As the popularity of kayaking
explodes locally, I’ve noticed that the cross-pollination
of technical and route knowledge is an opportunity to
connect outside The Mountaineers. This can be to the larger
community, or to professionals who work in this sport and can
offer additional training. There is also a fair bit of cross-branch
participation, so it's fun to see both familiar and less familiar
faces. And every year there is a new group coming in through
the Basic courses.”

P5231260.jpgSea kayakers practice on Lake Washington. Photo by Will Wade. 

Peter Hendrickson and Nancy Temkin

Urban Walkers, 17-year members

Many people face barriers to accessing the outdoors, but
through urban walking, volunteers like Peter and Nancy
create a gateway. “We're older, in general, than the Wilderness
Navigation students I've instructed for many years,” Peter says.
“Many have decades of experience on and off trail, but may be
travel or health-restricted and looking for accessible activities
closer to home. Urban walkers show up at the ‘trailhead’ on
foot, just off the bus, by bicycle, and by car. For some,
urban walks are the first point of contact for newcomers. I'm fascinated by the diversity of nationalities, genders, ages, occupations, life experiences, and outdoor skills routinely encountered.”

Peter Hendricks copy.PNGUrban walkers at Seattle Chinese Garden. Photo by Peter Hendrickson.

Peter and Nancy encourage curiosity about both the natural and built environment. People are sometimes surprised that their “curiosity about cityscapes is welcomed in the same
spirit as, say, bird call identification,” Peter relates. By offering accessible and unassuming activities, Peter and Nancy are helping people from all walks of life engage with a vibrant outdoor community.

Jim French

Stewardship, 24-year member

As a stewardship leader Jim’s work brings profound benefit to
the greater community, but he also helps participants realize
the unexpected personal benefits of volunteering.

“Our crew members are always interested in learning more.
They want to learn more about leadership, trail maintenance,
and techniques for restoring nature. One enduring benefit we
all appreciate is getting to know more about each one of our
crew members, old and new. Looking back at various projects,
I can remember more about what I learned from the trail crew
member next to me than I know about most of my neighbors.”Winter is a valuable season for building relationships with land
managers and park staff. When Jim shares that he is from The
Mountaineers, he typically gets an enthusiastic response. “Their reactions tell us that members of The Mountaineers have done a magnificent job of earning and maintaining a distinguished image. At the same time, it gives us a goal to live up to.”

Enjoying the natural world and helping to conserve it go
hand-in-hand at The Mountaineers. Like many members,
Jim participates in advocacy by writing letters and emails
to policymakers, but sometimes this feels inadequate. “I am
naturally drawn to the causes of conservation,” Jim shares, “and at the same time the relentless waves of earth’s new calamities are just too vast, intertwined, and apparently undefeatable. Stewardship activities give me the opportunity for hands-on actions like habitat restoration, salmon enhancement, and outreach. I’m reassured in my understanding that even the care and repair of our outdoor recreation facilities such as trails and campgrounds contributes to a healthy environment.”

Tom Bancroft

Naturalist, 6-year member

Admiring the athleticism of a flock of snow geese, brushing up on moss identification, seeing someone’s eyes light up when they learn something unexpected: these are a few of the things that delight and rejuvenate Tom Bancroft. “When I accepted a job in Seattle and moved from the east coast, a close friend said, ‘How are you going to take that rain, those overcast, dark days?’ I didn’t know then, but nature has been the mechanism. Survival is about slowing down, helping others take the time to look, finding beauty and wonder in new places.” 

After spending most of the pandemic with only the birds in his backyard for company, Tom remembers scheduling his first birding trip of the year in February 2021. “The activity filled within one minute of opening; others were hungry for nature and community.” The naturalist community knows something that we can all learn from: sometimes our best connections with each other, with the natural world, and with ourselves, happen in the moments when we slow down and look closely.

Naturalists - Okanogan 2022b Winter from Donna Hahn.jpeg
Naturalists enjoying a winter excursion at Okanogan. Photo courtesy of Donna Hahn.

“Our western society is so focused on ‘me’ and what is good
for ‘me, me, me.’ Looking at nature can build an appreciation
for the life of wild things, whether they are plant or animal,”
Tom shares. “It is so wonderful that The Mountaineers offer
various classes and activities. It provides an opportunity for
friendship, as well as building relationships with humans,
animals, and plant life. Joint learning contributes to the
resiliency we all need.”

Generosity strengthens our community

Not many regions can compete with the Pacific Northwest for
our dark and depressive winter season. But not many regions
are home to a community like The Mountaineers. We are a
force of inspiration, self-realization, and connection. With the
generosity of donors and volunteers, our community provides a
hub for hard-earned expertise, a connection to each other and
to the natural world, and a way to protect the future of outdoor
recreation. We go beyond fun; we adventure with purpose.

The Mountaineers® is a 501(c)(3) organization supported through earned revenue and elevated through charitable contributions. Tax ID:27-3009280. 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.

Donations strengthen our outdoors community through volunteer recognition, leadership development, need-based scholarships, conservation & advocacy work, and more. If you are inspired to make a gift, please visit

This article originally appeared in our winter 2023 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, click here.