With the announcement of the Bolger Foundation Challenge to raise $1 million for the restoration of Darlington Schoolhouse by Nov. 1, 2013, the race to connect with as many Trail Conference members, Bergen County community members, outdoor enthusiasts, and supporters of access to open space is on! Our efforts took us to the Explorers Club International Headquarters in New York City. It was the perfect fit for the Trail Conference, with the Explorers Club’s like-minded mission: “Dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.”
Much like the Trail Conference, the Explorers Club is filled with adventurers and a similar rich history. The Explorers Club was founded in 1904 in New York City with a meeting of individuals who all had an interest in exploration. They formed an organization allowing like-minded adventurers to unite to cultivate and promote the work of exploration. It is famously known for its series of firsts from its members, such as: first to the North and South Poles, first to the deepest point in the ocean, and first to the surface of the moon. From a small meeting over dinner, the Club has now expanded to support the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space through continued research and education in the natural, biological, and physical sciences.
The reception was held in the Explorers Club library on May 21. It was well attended by loyal Trail Conference members, current and past board members, and guests who joined as friends of the Trail Conference. In between looking at “trophies” from explorers past and present, guests browsed with curiosity at the Darlington Schoolhouse site plans and the new rendering for our permanent headquarters.
Our hosts for the evening were former Trail Conference board member William (Bill) Gannett and current board member Skip Card, author of Moon Outdoors’ “Take a Hike New York City,” Chris Cox, and Andrew Wong. Bill welcomed everyone and spoke of his commitment and loyalty not only to the Trail Conference, but to the capital project for our new headquarters. His passion and enthusiasm could be felt by every person in the room.
What makes these events so worthwhile is both the conversation and opportunity to answer questions from our guests. The majority of the work that is done by our organization is found deep in the woods, and even then it is made to look and feel as though it was nature’s doing. By having open discussions, our members are able to ask serious questions about the building and project and to receive thorough, thoughtful, and candid answers from our staff and volunteers.
As our guests left, the excitement was palpable that they were on board to meet — and exceed — the Bolger Challenge by Nov. 1 so we can earn the $500,000 gift from the Foundation, end the campaign, and start construction.