Leader Spotlight: Barbara Folmer

Leader Spotlight is a monthly blog to showcase our incredible volunteer leadership at The Mountaineers. Meet this month's featured leader: Barbara Folmer. She is 13-year member with the Foothills Branch who has simple advice for fellow leaders - lead trips you're excited about and communicate clear expectations. People have a good trip when they've into the plan!
Sara Ramsay Sara Ramsay
Volunteer Development Manager
November 29, 2020

For our Leader Spotlight this month we talked to Barbara Folmer, a volunteer leader with the Foothills Branch who first got involved with The Mountaineers to go snowshoeing, and who stayed involved because of the community!

Name: Barbara Folmer
Branch: Foothills
Where do you live? Renton, WA
How long have you been a leader? 10 years (member since 2007)
What activities do you lead? Hiking, snowshoeing, and backpacking trips.

Leadership Questions

What inspired you to lead trips for The Mountaineers?

I had fun in the Conditioning Hiking Series. The committee was recruiting new leaders and they were a great team, so I volunteered. Not long afterward, Chris Caviezel invited me to the first Foothills Hiking Committee meeting. There in the room were so many of my favorite leaders - Lawrence Landauer, Monty Pratt, and more. I knew it was where I belonged.

WHAT IS THE BEST, FAVORITE, OR MOST MEMORABLE TRIP YOU'VE HAD WITH THE CLUB?

I have had so many great trips. Summerland/Indian Bar/Cowlitz Divide stands out because even years later, people who were on that trip would tell me it was their greatest hike ever. It feels good to be part of people's favorite memories. We did have it all, in just one day: perfect weather, great views, flowers, goats, elk, and bear.

How has your leadership style evolved as you've gained experience?

Early on, I decided that I wanted to have just as much fun hiking when leading as I do when I am hiking with friends and family. Relaxing while staying alert to group dynamics and safety is a balancing act, but it got easier over time.

IT'S OFTEN SAID: "GOOD JUDGEMENT COMES FROM EXPERIENCE; EXPERIENCE COMES FROM BAD JUDGEMENT." ANY LEARNING EXPERIENCES YOU CAN SHARE TO HELP OUR COMMUNITY BUILD THEIR GOOD JUDGEMENT?

Most trips and spills happen in the last few miles. Take a break on the way down. Don't let a few people pressure the group into a rush to the cars. You are still in the wilderness with lots to enjoy.

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in The Mountaineers community?

Only lead trips you are excited to do. The group will know if you want to be there or not and catch your spirit. It is also important to clearly communicate the pace, level of difficulty, and your expectations in the trip posting and pre-tip welcome message. Let people know they can ask you questions. Everyone will have a good trip if everyone has bought into the trip plan beforehand.

Is there aNYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I began hiking as a child, backpacking as a teenager, and took a mountain climbing course when I was 17. When my children were growing up, I led hikes and outdoor activities as a Camp Fire leader and Assistant Scout Master. But I had never been snowshoeing. I wanted to try it and decided the safest starting point was to join The Mountaineers and take a class. I saw lots of activities on the club website to try while waiting for the Snowshoeing class to open. I quickly became hooked. The Mountaineers is a great place to learn new skills and get out and have fun.

Lightning Round

What's your go-to place for a post-trip meal? The Train Wreck in Burlington, if hiking that far north. I prefer pizza to burgers. 
How about your best trail snack? GORP, of course.
What's your favorite close-to-home adventure? Neighborhood beach walks with my grandson.
Who is your Mountaineers hero? There are so many! If I have to pick one - Maureen Corlas. She knows more about the natural world than anyone I know. Plus we both like to scout new trails. As long as we are somewhere new, we don't mind if the trip hasn't gone quite as planned.
What "luxury item" do you bring on most trips? Fruit and veggie pouches for backpacking trips. It's a delightful break from dehydrated food. Easier to find in the baby food aisle, but some are aimed for adults.
What's next on your bucket list? The Portuguese Camino was scheduled pre-pandemic. If borders are still closed next year, perhaps the Rockies.

is there Someone that you'd like to see in the spotlight?

Send an email to Sara Ramsay to make a recommendation for one of our upcoming Leader Spotlights!