Friday, March 22, 2013

Volunteer Sherpas (desperately) needed

I have been spoiled where Sherpas are concerned. My young, fit, healthy and above all generous family have taken me to some extraordinary places. So this week in the Grampians, with total access to their TrailRider but only two "uprights" has been a novel experience. We have really, really needed to be able to tap into some kind of volunteer network.

All dressed up and nowhere to go. Bellfield Reservoir
with Sam,and Rachel taking the picture! For interesting
TrailRiding you need more than two Sherpas

In this region it turns out that Gilda McKechnie, the local Rural Access Worker has been putting up posters to solicit helpers but we didn't know in advance and there have only been three offers solicited anyway. We considered sneakily hijacking the crew who take Kelly out one a week (to her great delight!) and in the end have a generous offer from Blake at the Brambuk Cafe but it is all happenstance.

What is needed, statewide, is a network of fit outdoorsy types who love the idea of sometimes being a Sherpa, do it from time to time, learn the ropes, and who, above all can  be contacted in advance by someone who is contemplating an outing.

This sounds like it needs a co-ordinator. Someone who would register volunteers, hook them up with some training and be a clearing house for Sherpa requests and availabilities. Is a day a week too little? Answering the phone or the email would be an always-open kind of thing. 

Thoughts from readers on this topic would be incredibly valued


  1. I think it needs an organisation to be the central hub for making dates with sherpas. Really hard for a volunteer to take on such a big job. Needs a central office with a permanent phone number/email address and spread sheet - and above all, someone who is paid. (IMHO)

    1. I agree. I'm hoping this post, and the discussion, is being read by John Kenwright.

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  3. Gilda McKechnie - RuralAccessApril 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I would love to be able to generate more enthusiasm in the community around the Sherpa program. I have put up flyers, approached walking clubs, advertised in local newsletters, neighborhood houses, advocacy news letters etc. RuralAccess feels that they could assist with a roster if we could get the sherpas. John Kenwright is willing to support the program and has been terrific. Let us know a couple of weeks before the next time you are up David and I will try to get more people on board to take you out.

    1. I think you have done more Gilda than anyone else, anywhere in this regard.

      Had I known before I saw your flyer I would certainly have called ahead and therein is at least a small part of the problem. How to let potential riders know who to contact and when.

      There is also a motivation issue that would vary a lot from place to place. How to get people fired up about being sherpas. In Lysterfield Park for example the chair is made available at the Trail Mix cafe/bike shop so the cycling connections might be crucial. At Bacchus Marsh it is the library - library user?

      I think it will come good. Publicity, like at Trailwalker this weekend, can only help.


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