In your zeal to “Do It Right”, You are doing it all wrong!

Since before I joined the American Mountain Men I have heard the phrase “Do it right”.  I was somewhat taken by that line, because I am a stickler for authenticity and historical correctness.  I have since come to understand that this phrase means different things to different people.  To some, “Doing it right” means masochism.  Intentionally experiencing the life of suffering and privation of the mountain men.  Mr. G and Mr. B seem to think this the high point of the AMM experience.  Mr. G told me once he went out without any char cloth so he could learn other ways of starting a fire.  This is laudable and a valuable lesson.  I appreciate him sharing his experience.  However, when he begins to insist we all have to try his brand of masochism, I have to resist.  Even Mr. G has to draw the line when Mr. B decides to trump him by only using one blanket for his winter camps.  Mr. B apparently enjoys shivering through the night with one baby blanket and has bragged on it to the point of badgering others into trying it.  Mr. G was not going to participate and told him so.  Not until he protested did Mr. B take back some of his bragging and explain “This is just what I do.  I’m not saying anyone else has to do it like this.”  The problem is, that is exactly what he was saying!  Mr. B is a phenomenal publicity hound.  He is constantly bragging on himself and his “accomplishments”.  I am sure there are many, many brothers in the AMM who put him to shame as far as individual accomplishment goes, but they are properly humble and don’t shout every little thing they do from the roof top.  For Mr. B, Facebook, Email, Google groups and his website are constantly filled with his latest exploits showing him to be the best American Mountain Man!

Recently we have been having some discussion on the AMM forum regarding what the AMM is all about.  A brother from Kentucky named Larry Mayes offered this pearl:

To quote from our founding fathers “The American Mountain Men’s primary characteristic is, first and foremost, to be a Brotherhood of Men. In this fraternal concept is embedded the desire of all its members to teach, share, and learn the arts and skills of the original American mountain men, but deeper still, is the desire to be upon the trail, on lake or river, in mountains, plains or woods, as brothers, sharing this great experience. The sense of camaraderie and the shared endeavor are more important, always, than individual gain. These are the goals and the founding wisdom of A.M.M. To keep alive the skills of the freest men our great nation ever birthed; to preserve his abilities and emulate his way of life as historically accurately as possible.”

This quote stuck me as needing to be more widely spread.  “The sense of camaraderie and the shared endeavor are more important, always, than individual gain.”  Mr. G and especially Mr. B do not seem to agree with this aspect of AMM Brotherhood.  During the past few years when I had contact with Mr. B, he constantly complained of no one calling seasonal camps.  Yet, when people did call those camps, he would rarely attend.  He was usually too busy attending a private camp with one or two of his hand picked cronies.  Mr. B is all about individual gain and nothing about camaraderie.

In the Code of the AMM is the following; During any survival situation, I shall be willing to divide any food and water I have and give any other assistance to people found in need.  I am going to assume this would include a called camp.  I have seen Mr. B withhold food from other members of his camp.  I can not really explain why I saw him do this but I certainly saw it happen.

Another pearl that came out of our recent discussion came from Richard James, Hiverano #79.  Richard wrote: “Gentlemen: I find it very disturbing when I read of things like you have seen written (NOT authored) in this line of messages. At first I wondered if I had tuned in on conversation of another group. The behavior you have described on the part of some unnamed person is wrong, wrong, wrong! and not in accord with the original purposes of this organization. Purposes? To learn, to share, to teach, and to save this new knowledge with those to follow. What happens – and I saw this from the early days of AMM is: There are some persons who, when joining a group, begin to explore with their political ambitions. Group #2 are those who want to command either from an elevated political position or on an individual or group basis. Simply put – take away another persons decision making processes and force their own on that/those person(s). In any case this kind of thinking is immediate evidence such persons miss the intent of this organization. At the same time they would rob themselves and others of the higher delights that can come from the initially intended principles. Of course I am just describing reality and human nature. The best thing, it would seem, would be to not pay heed to the behavior of those in Group 2. Rather – keep aware of the intents listed in describing Group 1 personalities and build your own personal codes from this. Sounds easy? wrong? too complicated?? Try it if you are curious. Ignore it if you would rather. You have free agency to serve yourself. You ask WHY does this writer presume to qualify to give such information? Because I have recognized it from the very earliest days of AMM and seen it in action as it tore apart this fine organization not too many years ago. Maybe if the mood inspires to learn from past mistakes and not repeat them we may find ourselves to be a happier more positive achieving bunch of little chipmunks.

Good be ye
Richard James
Hvrno #79

The point he makes here about political ambition is stunning.  “Group #2 are those who want to command either from an elevated political position or on an individual or group basis. Simply put – take away another persons decision making processes and force their own on that/those person(s). In any case this kind of thinking is immediate evidence such persons miss the intent of this organization. At the same time they would rob themselves and others of the higher delights that can come from the initially intended principles.” This is exactly what has happened here in Colorado.  When I was party clerk, I was asked to complete an annual report.  Mr. B wanted this report before year end.  His request included this line: “At a bare minimum, I at least need the volunteer hours reported for the parties.”  I gave him the volunteer hours he asked for and as complete of a report as I was able.  Yet in exercising his “power”, Brigade Booshway, Mr. B took away my decision making process and shorted our volunteer hours by 50 hours!

Although I have seen some problems within the American Mountain Men as noted above, I still feel the AMM are the finest group of men I have ever called my brothers.  I have made many, many friends and I will join Richard James in ignoring those of Group #2.

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One Response to In your zeal to “Do It Right”, You are doing it all wrong!

  1. Kirk REad says:

    Hi Gabe, I am enjoying reading from your page. I am a recent pilgrim in Utah, so there is a lot that is still new to me as I research the AMM and its members. You mentioned “some discussions on the AMM forum”. I have not found a link yet to access this forum, and would really like to get further information on it, if possible. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciate. Thanks! -Kirk Read

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