22 | Snowmobile VERMONT By William Thomas Sr. & Fellow Snowmobilers Why I Volunteer and Snowmobile At this time of year, many are busy with the holidays coming, making the transition to winter and getting ready for the upcoming snowmobile season. In clubs throughout the state, a handful of fine folks that seem to show up year after year are getting the trails ready for all to enjoy. That process for many clubs is not always easy and the work that should be shared by many is usually only shared by a few. Without the endless efforts of volunteers around the state, snowmobiling as we know it would not be the same. Taking part in your local club workload is not only needed, but greatly appreciated and there are all types of tasks that your helping hands can take part in. How many people reading this have ever attended a club meeting or given a few hours of your time to volunteer? Please spend a few hours with your club members and help make a difference in the sport you love and look forward to each year. Happy holidays to all VAST members and landowners! Shelley D’Amato – Island Pond, Vt. I volunteer because I want to play a part in keeping this sport that I have such a passion for alive. Not only for me, my family and future generations, but for all the volunteers that paved the way and worked arduously to start these clubs and build all those trails over 50 years ago. The foundation of this great family sport in Vermont was built solely on volunteers and generous landowners. Without them, we have no trails. We need to keep snowmobiling alive and thriving just as it’s always been. I also volunteer because our club (Brighton Snowmobile Club) reached out for help and I wanted to give back somehow. It is my way of saying “Thank you for all you do to make sure we continue to enjoy snowmobiling on a fantastic trail system year after year.” So, whatever they need me to do, I do. Having over 125 miles of trails and being one of the largest trail systems in the state, there’s plenty to do! Think about this for a minute: Every season, they put up and take down approximately 3,000 trail signs and flags, 1,200 stakes and around 5 miles of rope! That’s no small task, but it gets done by the same small group of volunteers every season. It doesn’t matter if I’m helping to redeck a bridge, painting stakes, riding in the groomer or doing website work, I truly enjoy every minute of it. I have learned a lot and met some great people along the way. Now that I’m a little more involved, I really have a profound appreciation for all the time the volunteers put in and the amount of work it takes to keep a club going. The work never really ends. It is a labor of love. We are a pretty dedicated and unique group! Please consider helping out your local club, even if it’s only one weekend or even a few hours. You can really make a difference and help those out that maybe can’t do as much as they once did. Many hands make for light work. We need more young people to step up and lighten the load on some of our older members and keep the spirit of volunteerism alive and well. It’s a pretty awesome feeling when you are enjoying those beautiful trails on your snowmobile, knowing you helped make it possible in some small way. The only regret I have is that I didn’t start volunteering sooner! Help a club, thank a landowner and enjoy the ride! Anthony Metz – Cavendish, Vt. My love for the sport of snowmobiling began at a very young age. Growing up in southern Connecticut didn’t offer much opportunity for the outdoors or snowmobiling, but I was a lucky boy. My mother’s first cousin Agnes Smith moved up to Cavendish from Conn. in 1973, buying 15 acres with her husband, Billy Smith, and building a life for themselves and their four children up there. My parents would often take us up to enjoy the nature, family and recreation. Luckily my “Uncle” Bill rode snowmobiles and I was hooked at a young age. I cut my teeth at a young age on a late 70s Polaris Electra 340. I remember riding that thing around the fields by their house and constantly getting stuck in deep snow or running out of gas and having to walk back to get help from my father or Bill or cousin Tommy. The thrills and emotions I felt as a young lad on that Electra can never be replaced or forgotten. In my early 20s, Uncle Billy passed away unexpectedly. I was done with college and wanted badly to buy my first snowmobile. I did and it was a 1996 Ski-Doo Mach z 800, a real knee and back breaker. I rode this for years with the Essex County Director Dave Page, Shelley D’Amato and Bobby Tower shared some smiles in the Brighton Snowmobile Club booth at the SAM show this year.