There have been some excellent conversations going on about the AMGA, the IFMGA, and the CGC – this is going to be a long post, but I wanted to put it out there in FB world: I would like to add to the discussion and (I hope) address several of the issues with the AMGA, the IFMGA, and the CGC.
As you all know, the conversations about how to work together seem to digress all too quickly into a fight about who should support whom, and which one is good and which one is bad.
But take a long breath and ponder this: If you strip away all the politics, and the history, and the emotions, and the battles, I think the following statements are true:
1. Training and certification for mountain guides to a professional standard is a Good Idea
2. Active promotion and support of the profession of mountain guiding – an Access Director actively lobbying on behalf of credentialed guiding – is a Good Idea.
3. A cooperative structure to hold permits and insurance for mountain guides is a Good Idea.
There is a need for all three pieces of the puzzle, and the existence of the three together is necessary for the success of any single one of them. At our very core, we need training and certification of mountain guides to a professional standard. The AMGA has been working since 1979 to achieve this goal, and this continues to be the heart and soul of our organization.
We need an Access Director to educate the public and land managers about guiding and the value of AMGA technical standards and credentials (Certified Guides and Accredited guide services). We need to build and promote the profession, and to quickly and professionally respond to issues that come up in the national arena.
We need an additional structure for guides to get permits and insurance – the permit system in the US is not going to go away, and you must have a business license and an insurance policy in order to participate in that system. Guide services are an integral part of our community, and we all need to work together. But to have every certified guide in the US start their own business and compete for permits would be helpful to no one. A cooperative structure fits in the existing system and supports the whole profession.
The future vision goes something like this: AMGA programs train and certify mountain guides with programs designed to the international standard and to meet the particular needs of american guides. The Access Director develops and implements a strategic plan to prioritize and then work – consistently and continuously, 5 days a week – on the issues that we have to deal with in this country. The AMGA Accreditation program links guide services to certification and the work being done to promote access. The Certified Guides Cooperative holds permits and insurance for certified guides, easing the pressure valve created by the permit system and providing the possibility of growth for AMGA certified guides and an outlet for reciprocal access for foreign IFMGA guides. All three together work change and grow the way guiding happens in the US. THAT is what we are really after. THAT is why all three pieces of the puzzle exist.
The AMGA is an educational non-profit – it cannot hold permits for commercial use. But it can train and certify guides and define the national standard in doing so. And it can create and implement a strategic vision for access. The CGC is a not-for-profit cooperative. It can hold permits and insurance, but it does not have the resources to train and certify guides, or to lobby for and promote the profession. And why should it? The AMGA is doing that work.
Finally, to offer an update from the IFMGA meeting in Sulden, Italy: after Boulder, the IFMGA understands what the AMGA is dealing with, and supports the work of BOTH the AMGA and the CGC. And the IFMGA is not going to kick us out. But the IFMGA does want to know what – and how – the US is working on reciprocal access. Luckily, we have two organizations that, when they work together, have the resources to solve the access puzzle.
This June 3 at the BOD meeting in Boulder, we will be reviewing and discussing the Access Director’s Strategic Plan for Access. We will be reviewing and discussing a proposal from the CGC regarding the cooperation between the two organizations. I hope that you will come to the meeting and listen. Listen to the reports of the work being done. Listen to the proposals. Listen to the discussions. And participate in YOUR organizations. Both of them.
United we stand…
All the best,