Progress On Our Next Strategic Plan - June Town Hall Recaps

We've begun building 'Vision 2022' - our strategic plan to carry us forward through the next five years. In June we hosted three 'town hall' meetings to hear from members and leaders in our community. Learn what we discussed, and save the date for the next round of town hall meetings in the fall.
Tom Vogl Tom Vogl
Mountaineers CEO
July 12, 2017
Progress On Our Next Strategic Plan - June Town Hall Recaps
Photo by Mike Warren.

We've begun building 'Vision 2022' - our strategic plan to carry us forward through the next five years. For 111 years, we have welcomed people from all walks of life into a community that shares deep connections to the outdoors. We intend to carry forward this legacy for  111 more years and beyond, which is why we're working collaboratively to create Vision 2022, our next strategic plan. 

Town Hall Meetings: Goals & Agenda

In June we hosted three 'town hall' meetings to hear from members and leaders in our community in the south sound, north sound, and central sound. This followed two similar sessions with our program center and publishing staff. We've also had recent conversations about Vision 2022 with our Board of Directors, Advisory Council, and Vision 2022 Steering Committee to learn from the collective wisdom of our community.

The goal of the town halls was to share our staff insights, get feedback about potential actions we could take in the next five years, and add additional actions we might not have originally considered. 

This is just one of many feedback opportunities. Later this summer  we'll distribute an online survey and this fall we'll host another round of town hall meetings - please save the date and RSVP. Here's a reminder of where we are in the process (dark blue section, "Town Hall" below):


To help drive the conversation around strategic clarity, I encouraged attendees to complete a short pre-read about the framework we're using for the process. While we didn't spend too much time discussing this piece of "homework", we did unveil our Vision 2022 Framework, which included our 80% draft "Intended Impact & Theory of Change" statement, in the yellow box below. 


This Ultimate Outcome statement, in yellow, means we believe The Mountaineers exist for the purpose of welcoming all people to share deep personal connections to the outdoors. We do this through our courses, books, activities, conservation and stewardship efforts, and by engaging the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts with the natural world.

To dive deeper into these topics, we invited participants to break up into one of three groups: 

  • Innovators in Outdoor Education
  • Educators of the New Generation
  • Fierce Advocates for Public Lands

For the first 20-minute discussion, we invited folks to discuss the following two questions as they pertained to their chosen group:

  1. What opportunities do you see in this area?
  2. What threats are presented by this area?

Each group had 15-minutes to discuss, plus 5 minutes to decide on the most important opportunities and threats to report out to the larger group.

Next, we brought everyone together to discuss a draft of strategic priorities and proposed actions. One  note of caution I shared with everyone in attendance: as soon as you write things down in a formal, formatted way, the ideas may seem like they're final. I want to assure you this list we shared was in no way final and was the direct output from our staff meetings a few weeks prior. We invited any and all feedback about these potential actions and also asked if anything was missing. I was impressed by the productive and robust conversations we shared and we gained important insights in each of the three town halls.

The potential actions we shared (by category) were:

Innovators in Outdoor Education:

  • Leadership Development for Volunteers
  • Expand Physical Infrastructure Capacity
  • Leadership Progression
  • E-Learning for Support Courses
  • Streamline Website Tools
  • Integrate Books Content with Courses


Educators of the New Generation:

  • Expand Family Programs to Include “Gateways”
  • Deepen Partnerships & Support
    for Mountain Workshops
  • Build Stronger Cultural Competency
  • Develop a Summer Resident Camp at
    Meany Lodge
  • Expand Youth & Family Focused Publications


Fierce Advocates For Our Public Lands:

  • Conservation Advocacy Education
  • Publishing as a Conservation Centerpiece
  • Climate Change
  • Deepen Stewardship Partnerships


After sharing these priorities, we again asked participants to break up into groups (either the same group or a different group than the previous exercise), and discuss:

  • What do you like/dislike about the potential actions?
  • Are they any critical actions you feel are missing?

We came back together for one last time as a larger group to share the individual group feedback. Then it was time for everyone's favorite: the "dots" game - a visual way for each person to share his/her thoughts on priorities and areas of caution!

2017-07-07_1704.pngEach attendee received six dots: 1 gold star for the best idea, 3 green dots to note a priority, and 2 red stars to note an area where we should exercise caution moving forward. We prepared big white-sheets of paper at the front of the room and invited folks to use the dots however they saw fit.

At the end of our three town hall sessions, we counted the dots and will use that feedback as we begin the next phase of our process: developing an online survey.

The Results

These town halls overwhelming illustrated the desire of our community to continue to grow and evolve while striving to offer the best volunteer-led outdoor education available. I was inspired by the feedback from our attendees and am excited by the potential future directions of our great organization.


To understand our results, we took the feedback from the three sessions and worked them into circle charts by category to show areas of overlap between the three sessions. We also counted the dots  to help us prioritize for the next round of feedback gathering. 

You can view the full summary here. From a high level, the key takeaways are:

  • Across the board, our community identified a need to prioritize Leadership Development for Volunteers and Leadership Progression Programs.
  • The biggest threat to the future of our organization lies with competition in the outdoor marketplace: if we lose relevancy, other organizations may take our leadership position away. 
  • We have strong support for building stronger cultural competency to continue to better respond to the  needs of our community.
  • Folks feel we have an opportunity to expand our family programs to serve as gateways for our club, and that we can and should explore the development of a resident camp at a property such as Meany Lodge.
  • We are a leading voice in outdoor conservation and advocacy, and we still need to do more to grow our education programs in these areas to create a larger and more engaged group to steward for our public lands.
  • We have an opportunity to focus on partnerships as a way to help us further our mission in all areas.

As a next step, I will work with the Vision 2022 Steering Committee to stack-rank these priorities and flush them out a little, then we'll send the results in an online survey for more community feedback. And one thing I'd like to note: the Vision 2022 plan is going to be written to align best with our core values. Each of the priorities will fit within our values of Adventure, Advocacy, Community, Education, and Volunteerism, with a specific eye to providing opportunities for all because we know a diverse and inclusive outdoors inspires unity, respect, and passion for the places we love. 

As always, I appreciate your candid feedback and participation in this collaborative process.


We will be hosting a second round of town hall meetings in September. Please plan to join us on the following dates:

  • September 28: North Sound/Everett -  RSVP
  • October 2: South Sound/Tacoma - RSVP
  • October 4: Central Sound/Seattle - RSVP

See you there!

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Paul Thomsen
Paul Thomsen says:
Jul 13, 2017 06:35 PM

Just a thought (I'm sure you've heard many): It seems to me the last 100 years of the Mountaineers have been about our love of mountains. With strong doses of discovery and innovation. But science has advanced amazingly over that time, so maybe it's time to "understand" mountains. Geology especially but biology as well. Maybe psychology. Washington provides amazing opportunities in this regard and doing so could add new dimensions to our excursions and courses.