Tales from the Cabin
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Cabinitis: My Lake Association was Calling

Should I serve?

By Lars F
Published: May 1, 2005
Photo by dreamstime.com
About four years ago I was approached by a small delegation of my lakeside neighbors who asked me to head our lake association for a two-year term. To be honest, I had never even thought about it.
Sure, I had gone to all the meetings and found them useful to keep track of things going on in our area and to get to know all my neighbors better. But to head the association?
My first inclination was to say “No.” But the delegation was persistent and quite persuasive.
So I finally agreed – on one condition. (As Clint Eastwood said, “A man needs to know his limitations”!)
The condition was that the person who had functioned as secretary for the past two years would also agree to serve another two years. (This was my true stroke of genius!)
The best people. As secretary, Leanne had always done an impressive job, knew where everything was and recalled everything that had happened in the last 10 years. I knew that with her around, the job would be relatively easy. In my life, I’ve always followed the principle of trying to hire the best people available. In this case, I succeeded extremely well.
It also gave me a thought that volunteer organizations such as lake and landowners associations would be well advised to overlap the terms of their officers like this. Doing so would supply continuity and reduce the learning curve for new officers.
In any event, I was now the president of my lake association. The two-year term was not extremely difficult, even though it could have been. Our two lakes lie right on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a heavily regulated federal wilderness area. That means we have more than the normal complement of regulations to deal with.    
Taking care of business. Our association meets only twice a year: in June for a business meeting and in August for a picnic or barbeque. Between and after these meetings, however, is when most of the work is actually conducted.
Our association was very active in donating money to the local fire department and rescue squad. Contact with our congressman also was necessary from time to time. For example, we intervened in a lawsuit in support of a Forest Service ruling (and lost). Other issues that came up were forest fire precautions, support of an annual canoe race, garbage handling problems, and the like.
Conducting the meetings was actually always fun for me. I just applied the same formula I’ve always used in business, i.e., to use as much humor as possible. Even the best financial report in the world can use a little brightening to make it interesting.     
The best thing. In retrospect, it was a great experience. I got to know the affairs of the lakes in our area well. I became acquainted with local politicians, federal regulations, state regulations, forest service regulations, etc. Did you know, for example, that you should keep trees at least 100 feet away from your cabin to reduce the risk of losing your cabin in a forest fire?  
Best of all, however, I became much better acquainted with my friends and neighbors on the lakes. There is no better way to get to know everybody than to attend the meetings regularly and to accept leadership if it’s asked of you. I recommend it highly.
If you need help, just find a good joke book. And a good secretary.

Lars F. has refused the 12-step plan to control his cabinitis. Only his first name is used to protect his identity.
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