An open letter from the President’s desk, in response to a rant. Written September 2018

First, I've been a member of this association for 14 years. I joined with certain expectations and ideas of what I wanted from the club and my membership. I wanted to get better at metal detecting and find new places to hunt, find silver, gold and other hidden treasures. I listened, asked questions, found the person or resources, I thought I needed to get better. I stumbled, got the not quite right machine first then found the "best" detector ever made, just my opinion. I got rejected by some, made new friends that were / are willing to share and generally enjoy the people in the club.

I found out early that all detectorists struggle with the same things. Hunting spots are tough to come by and tough to hunt especially the areas that the club goes back to. Chicago parks and beaches are trashy, hunted hard but there are some good things left. Tell us your secert spots! "Secret spots" aren't all that secret, someone had to do the research, make a connection, get permission and some of these spots are great. I have a couple spots that over the years have been productive. They are under an acre in size, private property, and not appropriate for a group activity. Those spots are available because of a lot of "door knocking".  I may share with some but I did the work, I get to pick who. Sometimes a different venue brings different people to an event, I've been to several regional events, talked to a bunch of folks, yet to hear back from anyone inviting me to a spot they said was so great. I've asked.

When I joined, I sat at the same table with the same people for a couple of years, didn't mingle much and didn't get much. Same type of thing with church, found my spot, sit there and listen to the service. Realized that we are all the same when we join anything, not quite scared, a bit shy, worried about being foolish. I started mingling, intruding in on conversations, things got more interesting, asking questions, generally talking to more people. Found people to approach and asked questions, got answers, things started getting better. Some talked, some said don't bother me and some were downright rude. I found and asked some members that helped me out, a lot. Did I mention I started the process?

If asked, I will offer to help anyone to get better with the hobby. I make the offer to all members old or new. We all have schedules and things that we are doing. These are what we primarily focus on. This year has been relatively good for me work wise, being self-employed is not all it's cracked up to be, “gotta” work when it's available. Yet I control my schedule and I can usually find time to do fun things or help someone out, if asked.

Did I mention that all organizations have IDIOTS that I will not associate with? Any group will have at least a couple of obnoxious types, they are the ones that crab, rant and make comments, yet never seem to step up or volunteer. FOR ANYTHING!

Last point, I enjoy this club for all of its warts and farts. Being the president is a volunteer position as are all of the other officers and chairs. Once I got over the new kid syndrome, I started volunteering for stuff, greeter, ambassador, web master, helping with the picnic, and finally club president, 10 years now.  As with most organizations of this kind, the same few people do the majority of the work to keep the club running. We have several dedicated members that stand up and do what needs to be done. We all know who they are. They seem to keep doing what needs to be done year after year, time and time again. We compliment them, praise them, tell them what a great job they do... (Then the crabs ninety second rant starts, done usually behind our back). Things go awry or it's not what's expected, bad choice for an event, wrong place, too far, too near, too crowded, too trashy, not enough talks, wrong prizes, poor choice of prizes, contest not run right, fees too high, costs too much, why don't we have a big event, where's the manufacturer reps, etc. It's YOUR fault for not getting it done, it's your fault for not finishing, why didn't I get notified, why isn't it posted, why isn't there a report, you made the wrong choice, etc., etc., etc.  (Rant finished.) (Pick your favorite rant line.)

There are usually 3 or 4 people doing 90% of the regular work, filling multiple regular positions, 2 volunteers taking care of yearly events and 3 volunteers taking care monthly events. In case you're curious there are 15 positions or chairs, do the math.

I have always said this is OUR CLUB! Get involved! Old timer, newbie, experienced, so new that the epoxy on the coil is still wet, man, woman, crumudgeon, VOLUNTEER for a position, get on a committee, find a speaker for a talk or seminar, look for hunt sites we can go to as a club, DO SOMETHING! As one of my mentors said a long time ago, you're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem. I've watched organizations wither away because no one wanted to do ANYTHING. This is a good club; I enjoy the people and the hobby. I have left other clubs because they were so stuck in one place or so cliquish, that there was no changing their culture for the better.

From the President's Desk Written March 2019

Occasionally an email, a post, a commentary, an anonymous note from some place, strikes a chord. Is it a serious statement, a criticism, just a whine or a bit of humor, I don't really know? I find that for whatever reason, it has become an irritating itch that demands to be scratched. Here's one of those.

The Member Who Never Came Back

It amuses me now to think that your organization spends so much time looking for new members when I was there all the time. Do you remember me? I'm the fellow who came to every meeting, but nobody paid attention to me. I tried several times to be friendly, but everyone seemed to have his own friends to talk to and sit with. I sat down among some unfamiliar faces several times, but they didn't pay much attention to me. I hoped somebody would ask me to join one of the committees or somehow participate and contribute, but no one did. Finally, because of illness, I missed a meeting. The next month, no one asked where I had been. I guess it didn't matter very much whether I was there or not. On the next meeting date, I decided to stay home and watch a good television program. When I attended the next meeting, no one asked me where I was the month before. You might say I'm a good guy, a good family man, that I hold down a responsible job and love my community. 'You know who else I am? I am the member who never came back.
(from an anonymous source)

A Reply from the President's desk.
The Member Who Persisted

Looking for members is part what an organization needs to do to grow and stay healthy. New members sometimes bring new ideas and ways of doing things. I try to remember new members and greet them when they come the next meeting. I try to be friendly, answer questions and talk with them, introduce them to people. Sometimes I’m busy with club business, sometimes more than one person wants to talk, sometimes distraction of all kinds stops me from being socially accessible. I’ve introduced you to the club and tried to get people talking with the "new kid" in the club. I’ve sat where you are today. Didn’t have a warm feeling, A few times I too have missed a meeting or two due to health or work. Nobody asked what happened. I sat in meetings where no asked me to join a committee. Gee, couldn’t they see I wanted to join, I’m sitting here, hello. I tried talking to someone at the table, I butted in and they looked at me funny. I tried to be friendly but the connection didn’t click. I persisted and soon I made one friend, then another and so on. I sat and listened and then an opportunity to do something for the club came up, I raised my hand and they picked me. I volunteered again and I got picked again. I persisted some more. I started talking at the meeting, asking questions, sharing experiences, offering suggestions. They are looking and listening to me, Wow. The circle of friends starting growing, new adventures happened. Look at me I am now at the executive’s table. I persisted.

CK (a response to anonymous)