Back in the late `80’s and early `90’s, several of the current members of the Middle Atlantic Four Wheel Drive Association were members of the East Coast Four Wheel Drive Association (EC4WDA), who were then members of the United Four Wheel Drive Associations. In fact, they were one of the founding member associations.
The administration of the EC4WDA felt it necessary to drop out of United. Mind you, that happened in 1993, which was one year after EC4WDA, through the Baltimore 4 Wheelers, Inc. host one of the most successful United Conventions ever. It featured a trip to DC. A very productive one. A week of Trail Riding on the George Washington National Forest by folks from all over the USA. One of the most heavily attended meetings ever. A banquet featuring Maryland Steamed Crabs and tons of food. Congresswoman Helen D. Bentley was a very popular speaker and the key note speaker was a National Forest Supervisor. The outcome of that was better than we could have hoped for. We had a 50/50 that featured an $800.00 take. 95% of the Convention was done by B4W members.
Next year the convention was in Arizona. EC4WDA was even more against United and its president. So, during their convention that fall, they voted to drop out of United. By that spring, several of us were laying the ground work for a new association; one whose primary focus would be on land use and promoting recreational four wheel drive, rather than competitive wheeling.
We started out with clubs from New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Right away, Middle Atlantic gained positive recognition from the rest of United. Even as Middle Atlantic went through difficult times for a variety of reasons, it has held on, while many associations and clubs have faded away.
Despite all of the ups and downs, Middle Atlantic and its membership have been involved in many ground breaking and note worthy four wheel drive related issues and events.
Middle Atlantic has had two members serve on the Board of Directors for the United Four Wheel Drive Associations. In fact, both members were on the Board for 10 years or longer. They came just as United was heading down a path of ruin. Yet, when the smoke cleared, United was in better shape than it had ever been. United even made the Sierra Clubs’ top ten enemies list. Then you know you have arrived.
One member has made the United 4×4 Awareness Program a model for others and the standard for 4 wheel drive safety and technique classes and programs.
Two Middle Atlantic members served at least 5 years each on the Jeep Environmental Advisory Council. One even helped to convince Jeep executives that developing a Jeep like the Rubicon would be a good idea.
A member was contact by Jill Smith one day about a concept, developed by Lou Botoni a Jeep Corporation V.P. Soon, Middle Atlantic was the first hosting association for Camp Jeep, in Virginia. The first year was difficult. The efforts by B4W/Middle Atlantic Members paid off, anyway. Now, that event has grown to over 2,700 Jeep Vehicles actually belonging to paying attendees. This event has also netted nice donations to United.
Another time, a member of Middle Atlantic was contacted by a man named Reid Block. He had this property and an idea. A pay for play four wheel drive park. So, a group of Middle Atlantic members met up with Reid. We discussed what was to come. We drove through a portion this property. Afterwards we told him, that this will work. One member encouraged Reid to stick with organized groups, like Middle Atlantic.
Well he did not at first. After quickly become frustrated with the general public, another member negotiated a deal for the members of Middle Atlantic and the discount program for our membership began. Other MAFWDA members developed an even stronger relationship with the own of what was Paragon Adventure Park and this transferred over to the new members.
A few years after that, a few members of Middle Atlantic stumbled on to the land that today we know as Rausch Creek. Members helped to cut and lay out trails, the rating system, bypasses, etc. A few very dedicated members managed to turn it into a corporation and into one of the most successful 4×4 parks in the United States. Since this was developed by true four wheel drive folks. The park delivers what four wheelers want.
Middle Atlantic has hosted a United Convention in Harrisburg.
Middle Atlantic has also had some successes in the world of public lands access. Middle Atlantic members worked hard and gained members access to some very nice 4×4 routes in some Maryland State Forests. One member even serves on the Citizens’ Advisory Panel for the Green Ridge State Forest.
Currently, Middle Atlantic Members are making head way with the Pennsylvania State Forest Management. While slow, as it always is. MAFWDA is getting their foot in the door due to some more dedicated members.
Middle Atlantic club, the PA Jeeps hold their annual Jeep show that has been list in the top 10 must attend events in the country, as stated in a national four wheel drive publication.
After weathering some very difficult odds, Middle Atlantic is at a turning point. The potential for MAFWDA becoming one of the most respected regional associations is just around the corner.
Right now, it has some major hurdles. While the pay for play areas are great. It has diverted much needed attention and energy away from Public land and organized four wheel drive. The E-Mail system has both helped and hurt regional associations, as folks simply talk online. Get together and wheel. This is with little or no regard why that have a place to go or that it can easily go away, like Paragon did and many miles of premium roads on the George Washington National Forest.
While there is little that we could have done to prevent what occurred at Paragon, unless the original owner had taken our advice. The GWNF has been hurt primarily out of default. We have not been involved since these pay for play places came along. Yet, we all OWN these National and State Forests. How ridiculous is that. Apathy has been a far more dangerous enemy than any Sierra Club or Earth First, etc.
I will hear, over and over again. Why join an association like Middle Atlantic? WHAT DOES MIDDLE ATLANTIC DO FOR ME? WHAT DO I GET OUT OF IT?
Now, that personally makes my blood boil. When someone says that to you, you reply: “ It is not what Middle Atlantic does for you. It is what you can make happen by being a member of Middle Atlantic.” Does the above text prove that or not?
But for those, what does it do for me’ers. Here are a few things below.
* MAFWDA gives you a strong, unified, regional voice.
* MAFWDA gives you a unique opportunity to meet other four wheelers
* MAFWDA gives its member clubs another means to promote and grow their clubs.
* MAFWDA gives its members opportunities to discover new unique places to wheel.
* MAFWDA is an informational clearing house. In other words, learn of news that will impact our sport.
* MAFWDA opens doors to new unique opportunities for its membership, as outlines in the above text.
Okay, here is your job. Think of at least two more reasons to become a member of Middle Atlantic.
Next, there are some open positions on the current Board of Directors. Step up. Make a difference.
Meet new people.
Go back. Look at just some of Middle Atlantic’s accomplishments. Why would you not want to be on the board? A part of a winning team.