The North Country Men’s Club was founded in 1980 by three friends in Buffalo, New York who regularly enjoyed the outdoors together in the Northeastern United States, particularly New York’s Adirondack Mountains (see map), and the neighboring Canadian provinces. The three founders, Tom Conroy, Jack Semler and Bill Webster, believed a formal association would increase the frequency with which they engaged in outdoor pursuits and add to their knowledge about camping, paddling, hiking and skiing.
The founding members also believed formation of the NCMC would encourage others to join them, if only because others would incorrectly assume that the founders actually knew what they were doing when they ventured into the woods. Despite its name, the NCMC is open to men, women (and dogs) of all ages.
The NCMC does not have a formal mission statement, or rules and regulations other than its open membership criteria. In general, NCMCers pursuing their outdoor activities aspire to the standard of conduct personified by Deets in Lonsesome Dove, whose epitaph, in part, read:
Never shirked a task
Cheerful in all weathers
It is also safe to say that the membership generally believes that mankind has been an exceedingly poor steward of the earth’s natural resources and ought to start doing a better job so that people who come after us have a chance to enjoy the natural world. And don’t get us started about jet skis and ATVs!
The NCMC also thinks Edward Abbey is on to something here:
“One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast… a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.”
Members of the NCMC whose names are “in caps” have gone on an NCMC-sponsored backcountry trip, competed in the 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic or gone on an NCMC-sponsored ski trip in the western United States.
The elite group of NCMC members who have gone winter camping, competed in the “90-Miler” and gone on a western ski trip are: Jack Semler, Bill Webster (who skied out west prior to formation of NCMC), Tom Conroy, Dylan Semler, and John Conroy.
Jay Tillotson has gone winter camping, canoe camping, and competed in the “90-Miler.” Conor Semler and Bob Goger have canoe camped, winter camped and gone on a western ski trip.
Gallery: The Membership