About 10 years ago, I joined Meetup in hopes of finding others with whom to enjoy hiking and the outdoors. In those days there were no Meetup groups like CVT, but the closest was a group called Avid Hikers & Outdoor Enthusiasts. I went on a few of their hikes, but the calendar was pretty sparse, and at some point I was asked by the organizer to help out by leading some hikes. Being an introvert, naturally I was reluctant, but I knew there was a demand and I saw the tremendous potential the group had. Unfortunately it was somewhat hampered by an organizer who had inherited the group from someone else and did not have the time to devote to it. So in 2011 I made the decision to start Central Virginia Trailblazers.
The idea was simple…build a community of like-minded people by luring them in with a calendar filled with a variety of hikes from easy to strenuous. Members would get to know each other, refer their friends, and hopefully be inspired to plan and lead their own hikes. Fortunately I met some great people early on – people like Karl, George, Sandra, Keith H., Mike, and Ginny – who volunteered their time and talents to give back. With their help we expanded the calendar to include camping, kayaking, backpacking, biking, social events, park cleanups, and more. Nowadays, folks like Steve, Leigh, and Keith K. have raised the bar by organizing entire series of events, some lasting a year or more. And we have Lori, Tom, and Annie, who organize elaborate, multi-day trips to cool places like Carvin’s Cove in Roanoke and our annual CVT Beach Week at the Outer Banks. And then there’s Kim…the heart and soul of CVT who does it all. I cannot begin to say how thankful I am for her friendship, loyalty, and support over the years. Kim has been with CVT since day one, and I am extremely fortunate to have her as my partner in crime. And finally, we are especially grateful to all of you who come out to the events, laugh with us, and make lifelong memories. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.
Currently Meetup is saturated with copycat hiking groups, many of which are poorly run or have organizers with egos or hidden agendas. This is one of the reasons we left Meetup in 2017. We don’t begrudge anyone for trying out those groups – after all, we didn’t invent hiking. But if you want to go so far as to start your own hiking group, at least have some integrity and do the work. Unfortunately all too many take the easy route – they look to successful groups like ours to find event ideas and people to organize them. Some groups brag about not having any rules or event fees. Yes, CVT does have a few common-sense rules pertaining to safety, attendance, and Leave No Trace principles. And yes, we do collect fees, but we are certainly not profiting from it. The Trail Bucks exist for three reasons: to pay for the events, cover expenses, and discourage no-shows. And you don’t always hear about it, but over the years we have donated thousands of dollars to worthwhile causes. I’d be happy to show you the bank statements anytime.
Now you can subscribe to the Meetup philosophy of drifting from group to group and hanging out with relative strangers, or you can commit to one group, get to know the people, and really get involved. We hope you will choose the latter and commit to CVT. We aren’t perfect, but we’re family, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better group of people to spend time with. So come out to the events and consider giving back in some way. Lead some hikes or host some social events. Teach a class. Write an article for our blog. Lead a cleanup effort. Everybody can do something. You can have a tremendous impact on people’s lives, and you’ll find the experience much more rewarding.
Thanks for reading…and as always, Happy Trails!