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SPS BYLAWS (revised Dec, 2010): click here to download a copy


Section 1.0 - Peak List

Section 2.0 - Peak List Changes

Section 3.0 - Member Accomplishments

Section 4.0 - Committees

Section 5.0 - Trips and Leaders

Section 6.0 - Responsibilities of Trip Leaders

Section 7.0 - Safety and Training

Section 8.0 -Participant Qualification and Training for Restricted Trips

Section 9.0 - Mountain Records

Section 10.0 - Membership

Section 11.0 - Peak Registers

Section 12.0 - Echo Announcements and Advertising

Section 13.0 - Membership Recognition
Section 14.0 - Banquet Speaker Payment
Section 15.0 - Merchandise

Section 16.0 - Leadership Award


Each newly elected SPS Chairperson shall ensure that every member of the SPS Management Committee reviews these Policies and Procedures annually.  The SPS Secretary shall maintain a listing of the policies of the SPS Management Committee.  The purpose of this outline is to provide continuity between successive management committees.  Within the constraints of the Chapter policies and the Sierra Peaks Section (SPS) Bylaws, each management committee may set its own policies and procedures.




1.1 The Section shall maintain and publish a Peaks List which lists the Section qualifying peaks and which designates the emblem peaks and mountaineers peaks, as well as the geographical areas in which they are located.
1.2 Where peaks on the list have multiple or poorly defined summits, the Peaks List shall identify the correct summit by a six-digit Universal Transverse Mercator number, utilizing the North American Datum of 1927.
1.3 Any active member of the Section may propose a change in the Peaks List. Changes to the Peaks List must be approved by the Management Committee. Approved changes to the Peaks List shall be submitted to the membership for vote in the annual election mail ballot provided for in Section Bylaw 2, Section 2 a majority of the votes cast being required for passage. A change to the Peaks List may also be authorized for inclusion on the annual ballot by following the process of petition in Bylaw 1, Section 1.6.
1.4 Proposed additions to the Peaks List must have previously been scheduled and climbed by the Section within five years prior to the vote.

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2.1 Peak Addition Criteria - peaks considered for addition to the list will be evaluated with respect to elevation, dominance of an area, view, climbing interest, proximity to other listed peaks, potential for accidents, and other factors as deemed appropriate.
2.2 Exploratory Climbs - a peak must be scheduled and climbed by the SPS before it can be considered for Peak List addition.  Such a climb is termed an "exploratory climb", with the understanding that the peak may be recommended for addition to the list. 
2.3 Peak Additions - After an exploratory climb, a member may recommend addition of a peak in, in writing, to the SPS Management Committee and furnish an evaluation of the peak in terms of the peak-addition criteria.  A letter or an abstract will be published in the Echo and the SPS website.  The SPS Management Committee will consider the recommendation and decide whether to place the question on the September/October ballot.  Pro and Con statements will be posted on the website and printed in the Echo, if any are submitted.
2.4 Deletion - A member wishing to delete a peak, or to change the designation of emblem peaks or mountaineer peaks, will furnish the SPS Management Committee with a recommendation and reasons such as elevation, dominance of an area, view, climbing interest, proximity to other listed peaks . A letter or an abstract will be published.  The SPS Management Committee will consider the recommendation and will decide on bringing it to the members for decision on the September/October on ballot.

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The Section Secretary shall maintain records for the following member accomplishments and shall also maintain records of accomplishments beyond List Completion, such as List Completion plus Emblem, multiple List Completion, etc.
3.1 Geographical Emblem: A member of the Section who has climbed two peaks from each of the twenty four (24) geographical areas identified on the Peaks List, who has been a Section member for at least one year, and who applies to the Secretary in writing, listing the peaks and the dates climbed shall be awarded Geographical Emblem Status.
3.2 Emblem: A member of the Section who has climbed ten emblem peaks and fifteen additional peaks on the Peaks List, who has is a Section member in good standing, and who applies to the Secretary in writing, listing the peaks and the dates climbed shall be awarded Emblem Status and shall be entitled to wear the Section Emblem pin.
3.3 Senior Emblem: A member who has been an Emblem holder for at least one year, who has climbed one hundred peaks on the Peaks List and who applies to the Secretary in writing, listing the peaks and the dates climbed, shall be awarded Senior Emblem status and shall be entitled to wear the Section Senior Emblem pin. The one hundred peaks must include all of the emblem peaks, 15 of the Mountaineers Peaks and at least two peaks from each of the geographical areas identified on the Peaks List.
3.4 Master Emblem: A member who is a Senior Emblem holder, who has climbed one hundred seventy-five (175) peaks on the Peaks List, and who applies to the Secretary in writing, listing the peaks and the dates climbed, shall be awarded Master Emblem status and shall be entitled to wear the Section Master Emblem pin. The 175 peaks must include four (4) peaks from each of the geographical areas designated on the Peaks List, and twenty-five (25) of the Mountaineers Peaks.
3.5 List Completion: A two-year member who has climbed all of the peaks on the Peaks List as of the date of list completion and who notifies the Secretary in writing, listing the dates climbed shall be awarded List Completion status and shall be entitled to wear the Section List Completion pin.
3.6 Members attaining List Completion status, who are not on the Emblem, Senior Emblem, and Master Emblem lists, shall be added to these lists.
3.7 Andy Smatko Explorer Emblem: A member of the Section who has climbed 50 peaks not on the Sierra Peaks List, who has been a Section member for at least one year, and who applies to the Secretary in writing, listing the peaks, their elevation, map source and quadrant, nearest Sierra Peaks List peak, and the dates climbed, shall be awarded Andy Smatko Explorer Emblem Status.  The peaks must be located in the Sierra Nevada and north of Hwy 178 and south of Hwy 36, and named on either on USGS 7.5 minute or 15 minute maps, or in the GNIS database, or listed as a named peak in R. J. Secor's book "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails", and be 7000' elevation or more.  HPS peaks are not allowed (to avoid overlap).

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         The Management Committee shall appoint standing and special committees for such objectives as it may designate consistent with the purposes of the Club, Chapter and Section. Members of a committee shall be appointed by the Section Chair from among the active members of the Section and  approved by the Management Committee, and shall serve until discharged. Committee Chairs shall be designated by the Section Chair at the time the committee is appointed. The Chair of the Section or another member of the Management Committee shall be an ex-officio member of each Committee (except the Nominating and Elections Committees) with the right to vote.

4.1 Conservation Committee. The Conservation Committee of the Section shall further the conservation objectives of the Club, Chapter and Section, and assist national, regional and Chapter Club actions, and supervise specific conservation action programs as authorized by the Management Committee.
The primary objective of the Section Conservation Committee is to promote conservation in the Sierra Nevada Range.
The Conservation Committee, or the Management Committee, may create issue and action sub-committees which report to the Conservation Committee, and to the Management Committee as requested.
The Chair of the Conservation Committee shall represent the Section on the Chapter Conservation Committee. The Section Chair will serve as the alternate to the Committee unless another member of the Section is appointed.
4.2 Membership Committee. The Section Secretary shall chair the Membership Committee. The Membership Committee of the Section shall maintain a roll the newsletter subscription and membership list of current members, shall assist in efforts to recruit and retain members, and shall be responsible, under the direction of the Management Committee, for recruiting new members and encouraging them to participate in Club, Chapter and Section activities.
4.3  The Safety and Training Committee shall serve as a liaison between the Chapter Safety Committee and the Section, assuring that the Section observes Chapter Safety Procedures. The Committee shall schedule Section training practice sessions as needed. It shall establish the criteria for and maintain a list of qualified climbers.
4.4 The Outings Committee shall plan the mountaineering activity of the Section. These activities shall include but not be restricted to climbs of the qualifying peaks. Including Sierra Peaks not on the qualifying list is encouraged. The Outings Committee shall distribute a sign-in form and emergency form along with safety regulations to outings leaders before each trip. The Chair of the committee shall function as the Section Outings Chair.

4.5 The Mountaineering Records Committee shall maintain a record of mountaineering activities of the Section, including a record of persons participating in those activities; and maintain any records of a mountaineering nature (e.g. condition of Sierra summit registers and those placed by the Section) as may be required by the activities of the Section.
4.6 The Peaks List Committee shall maintaining the list of qualifying peaks, including recommending additions to or deletions from such list subject to the provisions of these Bylaws; For Chair (i.e., the Keeper of the List), preference shall be given to a Section member who has attained List Completion status.
4.7 The Publications Committee shall publish, or cause to be published, the Sierra Echo -- the Section newsletter; and annually a list of all members, and their emblems and leader status for distribution within an issue of the newsletter. The Publications Committee may be assisted by a Mailer sub-committee appointed by the Chair.
4.8 The Archive Committee shall maintain records of the Section. Section Archives include copies of the Section newsletter, membership lists, and accomplishments of members such as emblem and list completion status, including associated records.
4.9 The Facilities/Programs Committee shall be responsible for arranging for a meeting facility and for programs to be presented at the regular meetings; and also for refreshments, if deemed necessary.
4.10 The Banquet Committee shall make arrangements for a facility and speaker (approved by the Management Committee) for an annual installation banquet/meeting to be held during December or January.


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5.1 *All SPS trips will be conducted pursuant to the Angeles Chapter Outings Impact Rules, Angeles Chapter Safety Policy and the SPS Safety Regulations in Sections One through Four below.
5.2  SPS trips: a)  *must be announced in either the Chapter Schedule, Southern Sierran, the Echo or the SPS Website.
            b) *must be rated as to technical difficulty.
c) *must have two certified leaders, each with a Chapter rating to at least the level of the trip. Under certain circumstances, the leader may be a provisionally rated leader.
d) Leaders and assistants must be current in First Aid for “O”, “I” and “M” rated trips. At least one of the leaders or assistants must be “current” in Wilderness First Aid, while the other must at least be “current” in First Aid or more advanced training for “MR” and “E” rated trips.  “Current” means having passed a course within the last four years
e) One of the leaders may have a one-time rating granted by the Chapter Safety Chair (typically a person who is judged to be qualified for the trip, but is not certified at the trip level).
f) *If two rated leaders are not available at the start of the outing, the event must be canceled. Trips canceled for this reason may not be lead as "private" outings unless participants are notified of the cancellation prior to leaving for the event.
g) must have leaders who are capable of leading the trip, (i.e., must have experience commensurate with the nature of the trip).
h) must be led by a member of the SPS (assistant leader may be a non-member of the SPS, but must be a Sierra Club member).

i) will be scheduled to peaks of the SPS list and to other peaks of interest within and outside the Sierra Nevada.
j) will not be scheduled to peaks on the HPS or DPS lists (except for joint sponsorship) unless for the specific purpose of rock or ice axe practice or certification for the Mountaineer's List.
k) will require participants to sign a Sierra Club Sign-In Sheet and Liability Waiver or Mountaineering Sign-In Sheet and Liability Waiver, as appropriate, for the Outing.
l) will restrict participation on trips involving the use of ropes and/or ice axes to Sierra Club members whose names are on the Mountaineers' List or who have received the special permission of the leader. These are referred to as Restricted Trips.
m) will submit a medical disclosure form in duplicate, one for the leader, the other for the National Sierra Club.
n) helmets must be worn on restricted outings for all rock climbing and descending and for snow travel when ice axes are necessary. Helmets are advised on non-restricted trips involving 3rd class rock not usually climbed roped or any travel where rock fall is a concern. 5.3 Proposed trip write-ups:
            a) must be submitted to the SPS Outings Chair
b) will be submitted by the SPS Outings Chair to the SPS Management Committee with a recommendation for approval or non-approval.
            c) will be announced after approval by the SPS Management Committee.
d) In addition, restricted Trips need approval by the National Sierra Club’s Mountaineering Oversight Committee (MOC). For these trips, supplementary write-ups such as a Mountaineering Application Form and updated (every 2 years) leaders' resumes are required. Current requirements for such information are posted on the website (
5.4 The SPS Outings Chair will establish a “Leader Kit” with all necessary forms and regulations on the website.
5.5 Changes in trip leadership may occur if a leader of an approved trip is unable to go on the trip. That leader and/or the remaining leader should contact the SPS Outings Chair or the SPS Chairperson, if time permits, for assistance in obtaining a replacement and for approval of a substitute leader.


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6.1 Prior to the trip the leader is responsible for preparing write-ups of the proposed trip for the schedule, Echo or website and for potential trip participants.  The latter should describe the trip, equipment needs, requests for participant information (e.g. experience resumes, Sierra Club membership certification, etc.), and other information the leader feels is needed for trip-screening purposes.  Obtain parental medical releases for any minor unaccompanied by an adult. Carefully study the participant’s medical disclosure forms to judge whether the participant is qualified for the trip. If the leader is uncertain he should consult the National Sierra Club’s Medical Advisory Board or the participant’s personal doctor. If participants with medical conditions or physical impairments are accepted on a trip, the leader must have developed a plan to allow safe travel and climbing for all participants.  A leader prerogative is to screen potential participants before acceptance.  This is a requirement for Restricted Trips and is encouraged for all SPS trips.

6.2 At the road head, at the beginning of the trip, the leader will brief all participants on plans for the outing. Inform every one of his/her responsibilities.  Ensure that names, addresses and phone numbers of all participants are entered on the sign-in sheet and that the entries are legible, and that participants understand the meaning of the waiver. Anyone unwilling to sign the waiver CANNOT join the trip. Ensure that all participants are aware of the technical requirements of the trip and have the equipment necessary for the trip.  It is the leader's prerogative to refuse anyone who, in the opinion of the leader, does not meet the qualifications of the outing (even though the participant is on the Mountaineer's List).

6.3 Liability waivers are required to be signed by all participants and leaders and to be returned to the leader when signing in at the trailhead. The leader should bring along spare copies. The leader must safe-guard the collected waivers (preferably left in the car) and should not dispose of them until, at least 12-months after the trip. In the event of an incident, the waivers should be turned over to the SPS Safety Chair.
For restricted outings the leader has to return the original Sign-in Sheet and Liability Waiver, the Medical Screening Forms and in the case of an incident, the Incident Form to Sierra Club Outings, 85 Second Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441, Attn: Regional Outings, Fax: 415.977.5795.

6.4 Leaders are encouraged to carry a first aid kit suitable for handling situations likely to be encountered on the trip.     

6.5 Discipline - maintain effective control over the group during the trip. Make decisions based on the welfare of the group and enforce them.  Report incidents and refusals to cooperate with the Leader to the Management Committee when returning the sign-in sheets.

6.6 Pace - set a reasonable pace geared to the abilities of the group.

6.7 Rear leader will remain with the slow members of the group.  The rear leader's responsibility for the slow participants takes precedence over making the peak. However, it is the prerogative of any leader to turn back participants who might not reach the trip's destination without seriously hampering the rest of the party. Communication with hand-held radios for reasons of safety is permitted.

6.8 Leaving the group - ensure that those who wish to leave the main group are qualified for what they plan to do. Such a group, if it does not have two qualified and certified leaders, will no longer be considered part of the official party and its members must check off their names on the sign-in sheet.

6.9 Base camp - never abandon participants under any circumstances on a trip.  Do not leave base camp until all participants have returned from the mountain.  Do not leave the road head until all participants have returned. Make sure that all cars start.

6.10 Conservation - ensure that good conservation practices are followed.  Stress that litter must be carried out of the wilderness.  Enforce Chapter policy with regard to campfires and use of stoves.  In every way, set an example of which the SPS can be proud.

6.11 Publicity -- after the trip the leader is strongly encouraged to write a trip report with pictures for the website and Echo. The purpose is to describe the route and to advertise our activities to interested newcomers and readers.

6.12 Additional responsibilities:
a) On 3rd and 4th class trips make certain of the route before the scheduled ascent, limit the group size and have equipment suitable for the trip.
b) on snow and ice trips exercise extreme caution to avoid avalanche areas and dangerously steep, icy slopes. Do not hesitate to turn back or change route if conditions are judged to involve too great a risk. Never glissade on icy slopes but use a belay.  Helmets are mandatory on restricted trips.
c) If an accident or an emergency should occur, where additional aid beyond the capability of the party is required, the leader must do the following:

1) Contact the Sheriff in the county where the accident has occurred or the Park Ranger if in a National Park or Monument. For this purpose you are encouraged to bring a cell phone with suitable service, but be aware that it may not work in many backcountry locations.  Otherwise, send two people for help with COMPLETE, WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS, use EMERGENCY REPORT form (send one copy, keep one copy).
2) Contact the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team at 818/355-1414 (24 hour service) for Sierra Club Search and Rescue Coordination.
3) * All accidents, illnesses, or other serious incidents that require medical treatment, evacuation, other emergency response, or that compromise outings objectives shall be reported to the SPS Outings Chair and the chairperson of the Chapter Safety Committee as soon as possible, using the Angeles Chapter Accident/Incident form.  A copy of the Emergency Report (if used) should be attached.
4) Contact the SPS Chairperson and/or the SPS Safety Chair.
5) Keep notes and do not release information to other than the authorities listed above. If further assistance is needed contact Angeles Chapter Mountain Rescue Committee.

d) if a participant has a physical impairment (deafness, limited vision etc.) that the leader believes can be accommodated without compromising the safety of the individual and the group, the leader should have specific plans about how to travel and climb safely with that individual.  Signals for rope work, rock fall or other hazards; positioning of this participant in the group while climbing (away from others to avoid rock fall, for instance); and teaming that person with a buddy are some possible considerations.
(These considerations must be written up in the Restricted Trip Application form and included as part of the leader’s packet for each trip along with sign-in sheets and other materials.  The outings chair shall include a reminder of this policy in the request for trip submissions.)


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7.1 Under the overall supervision of the SPS Management Committee, the SPS Safety Chair, an "E" rated leader appointed by the SPS Management Committee, establishes and enforces safety standards for the climbing activities of the Section and formulates training and testing procedures to implement them.

7.2 The qualified safety instructors list is established by the SPS Management Committee upon recommendation of the SPS Safety Chair.  It is reviewed periodically by the SPS Safety Chair.

7.3 The SPS co-sponsors rock and ice axe practice seminars and Mountaineer's List certification sessions, which are limited to Sierra Club Members only.  These activities are conducted mainly in conjunction with the Leadership Training Committee.

7.4 Training equipment (ropes, etc.) belong to the Section is in the custody of the SPS Safety Chair.


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8.1 Restricted Trips are those requiring the use of ropes and/or ice axes and crampons for safety.  Participants on these trips must be qualified technically and must be members of the Sierra Club.  Potential participants can formally satisfy the technical requirement by:
            a) Being on the SPS Mountaineers' List
            b) Be qualified "M" or "E" Angeles Chapter Leader
c) Sign off for items I (Climbing on Rock) and II (Snow and Ice Climbing) on the SPS Mountaineer's List
            d) Sign off for the rock and snow requirements for "M" level leader

8.2 The potential participant may also be accepted for the trip if, in the opinion of the leader, the participant's experience and skill level is adequate to meet the requirements of the trip.

8.3 A Mountaineer's List Application Form is available for downloading from the SPS website.  In addition to obtaining "sign off" in the three skills and endurance areas, the Mountaineer candidate must pass the subjective evaluation of both the SPS Safety Chair and the SPS Management Committee as to judgment, maturity, and overall mountaineering capability.

8.4 Testing of applicants for Mountaineer's List status may be performed on a scheduled Section trip by any “M” or “E” rated leader or assistant leader. Applicants must be active members of the SPS.

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9.1 The SPS Mountain Records Chair maintains:
            a) a list of qualifying peaks;
b) a record of peaks scheduled and climbed by the Section;
            c) a record of persons participating in the Section's mountaineering activities; and
d) a record of the condition of summit registers and register containers on qualifying peaks.

9.2 The SPS Mountain Records Chair maintains and preserves, as required, registers and register containers on summits of qualifying peaks. He should provide new register books and cylinders to climbers to replace old and missing ones on SPS peaks and other qualifying peaks.

9.3 From time to time, SPS Mountain Records Chair reminds leaders and/or outings participants to report via the Echo, website or at membership meetings, on the condition of the summit registers.

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10.1 The SPS Secretary shall acknowledge new members by letter.  The original member application forms and letters will be filed.  New members should be welcomed by acknowledgements in the Echo and website.

10.2 New membership applications received after October 1st are credited for Echo subscriptions for the next calendar year.  A maximum of two years of renewals will be accepted in any given year.

10.3 The SPS Membership Records keeper gathers all membership information and prepares the Membership Report which is published in the Echo after March 31st of each year.

10.4 Information regarding new members and new emblem holders, name and address changes and reinstated member applications are to be sent to the SPS Secretary. Renewals and Echo-only subscriptions are to be sent to the SPS Treasurer.

10.5 Members who wish to provide additional support to the Section may become Sustaining Members.  A Sustaining Membership costs $25.00 per year, receives the benefits of a regular member, and will be specially recognized in the Echo.  Sustaining Members will also receive their Echo via first-class mail.  A sustaining Member may renew for a maximum of four years in any given year.

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A register should not be removed, even if full, when less than 40 years old, unless it is seriously weather damaged and in danger of loss.  A register may be removed for preservation if it is 40 years old or older and full.  Illegible scraps of paper, business cards, etc. may be removed from a register container if, in the judgment of the leader, they have no particular significance.  However, if such notes are records of early Sierra Club climbs or SPS climbs, they should be left.  Scraps removed should be returned to the SPS Mountain Records Chair.  Notebooks with historical significance shall be preserved by copying with a digital camera in place. Another notebook must be left on the peak when the original is removed.  Removal should be coordinated with the SPS Mountain Records Chair.  Copies thus made will be retained by the SPS Mountain Records Chair.

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A fee of $1.00 per line will be charged for advertisements.

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13.1 In accordance with the SPS Bylaws, recognition will be given to members who have achieved geographical emblem status, emblem status, senior emblem status, master emblem status, and list completion status.  Such recognition will be published in the Echo and on the SPS website.

13.2 Members who have achieved list completion status will be recognized and at an SPS meeting for achievement of emblem status, senior emblem status, master emblem status, and list completion status after their initial completion of the list.

13.3 ACTIVE LEADER RECOGNITION - Leaders who lead trips in the last two years will be acknowledged as “active” at the highest rated trip they lead. If a leader does not lead for two years he/she will be acknowledged as “emeritus” at his highest rating. The Section tries to recognize our active leadership while recognizing past accomplishments.

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The banquet speaker will be paid a minimum honorarium of $250 and be given two banquet tickets.

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The SPS Merchandise Chair will be appointed by the SPS Chair and is responsible for fund raising through the sale of items such as T-shirts, pins, hats, books, etc.  All proposals must be approved by the SPS Management Committee prior to placing any orders for merchandise.  All merchandise is the property of the SPS until sold.  No gifts of merchandise may be made without approval of the SPS Management Committee.

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From time to time the Management Committee may choose to honor a leader for extraordinary service to the SPS.  The award shall be given at the annual banquet with an article in the banquet issue of The Sierra Echo, to honor the leader.  The award may be given posthumously.  By submitting a letter to the Management Committee indicating why the leader should be so honored, members may nominate possible recipients.  Management Committee members may also nominate recipients and should draw up a list of qualifications to be mentioned in an Echo article published each year in a mid-year issue along with a solicitation for nominees.  Factors that may contribute to the selection of recipients should include leadership on numerous trips over a period of at least ten years, fostering new members and leaders, achievement of at least an “M” leadership rating, and setting the example of well-planned and safe trips.  The Management Committee shall vote whether each nominee is to receive the award.  More than one person may receive the award each year, but it need not be given every year.

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 * Angeles Chapter Requirement

 Approved December, 2014:


Alexander Smirnoff, Chair, 2014 Management Committee.

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Updated: February 22, 2015