Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
It’s that time of year again.
The SUV is loaded to the gills with archery gear and pointed towards Michigan. The annual Compton Traditional Bowhunters Rendezvous takes place over Father’s Day weekend each year. For the past five years, my boy and I have headed North to the event. Three days filled with shooting our bows, shopping the vendors’ booths and catching up with old friends from all across the nation.
The rendezvous is one of the largest traditional shoots of its kind in the country with an average attendance somewhere in the neighborhood of five to six thousand visitors. But, until this year, I had never really given a thought to how much work goes into putting on such an event. I was excited, a little nervous and honored to have been elected as one of the board members for this organization, but being a newbie, I didn’t have a solid idea of just what was involved with my new found position - I knew I’d get a couple of really nice shirts to wear, but beyond that?
Thrown into the mix, right into the frying pan. What had been in the past a relaxing three day weekend slinging arrows, had turned into a baptism by fire over five days. Setting up tables and chairs, helping coordinate vendors, answering questions, helping make sure everyone had what they needed for the event, running errands, opening and closing booths, selling tickets and probably a dozen other things I’m forgetting – needless to say, I didn’t get much of a chance to shoot my recurve or shop the vendors, but that was alright.
Being an elected “volunteer” for the CTB has given me a new appreciation, not just for all the work that the Compton board of directors puts in, but for the volunteer leaders in all sorts of not for profit groups. There are several other outdoor organizations out there, most much larger than the niche group of traditional bowhunters that Compton caters too, but many of those larger organizations have paid staff and several can afford to hire professional event planners and hands to make sure things are done. Its those small, close knit groups led by folks willing to step up and lead, to step up and volunteer their time, experience and expertise that I really admire the most.
So, was I disappointed in my Father’s Day weekend?
Sure, I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off at times and being the “new kid on the block”, it took me a while to catch on to how the event ran, but once I figured out the groove, things ran smoothly. I was able to chat with lots of friends, meet new fellas from all across the country that shared the same passion I do for traditional bowhunting, shake a lot of hands, share some laughs and spend some quality time with my son that has grown up far too fast and to witness him working hard, laughing, talking and suddenly appearing to be much more mature than I had given him credit for.
I’m not much of a joiner or a club type guy and I’ve never been a big volunteer, but after this past weekend, I get why folks volunteer and give of their time freely. There is no question in my mind that the giver is the one that is truly blessed.
So, for all of our local volunteers out there, whether they’re fire fighters, 4-H Fair help, coaches, EMT’s, scout leaders, Wine Festival helpers, etc., my hat is off to you. And if any of the readers out there were like me, a “non-volunteer”, but you enjoy visiting events, think about pitching in and helping out. Large scale festivals, fairs and in my case, traditional archery shoots don’t just magically happen.
- David Hewitt