The Troutsmen have a busy weekend coming up. On Saturday night they're helping to facilitate "La Illuminacion Fashion Show" at the GLC, which will raise funds for the WAG animal shelter. On Sunday night they're donating auction items and supporting a fundraiser for earthquake-stricken Japan at the Hilton Resort and Spa. On Tuesday night, Mar. 29, they're facilitating another fundraiser for Japan at Sushi Village, creating a VIP area in the back with live DJs providing entertainment.
It's a lot to take on, some of it with very little notice, but the Troutsmen were relaxed and at ease when I sat down with them on Sunday afternoon. Very leisurely in fact, which is fitting for a non-profit society that is officially registered as the Troutsmen International Club of Leisure. There are now chapters in Vernon and Mt. Baker, which makes the group international.
To date the society has helped to raise roughly $21,000 for various causes, including sending 12 low income Whistler kids to summer camp and cash donations to the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program. By the end of this weekend their total will be closing in on $30,000 with both the fashion show and Japan fundraiser expected to sell out. If you're keeping score, they've passed out around 10,000 cheeseburgers at their barbecue social events.
The club meets at midnight every third Saturday of the month. It's men only, as implied by the name. And while there's no moustache requirement, sporting leisurely facial hair "shows total commitment" and can help secure an invite to join the Troutsmen's inner circle.
They have hundreds of friends and supporters, but the number of actual Troutsmen is small - about 25 in Whistler, roughly 15 in Vernon and another small group at Mt. Baker.
And how exactly does one join the Troutsmen? You have to be invited.
"It's more about attitude and presence," says Myles Ricketts.
"It's showing up at events and showing interest," adds current president Sheldon Steckman.
"It's about showing that you're going to be dedicated, before you're in it and dedicated," put in Cam Archer. "It's a full commitment."
Most of all it's about being leisurely. It didn't start out as a charitable organization but rather as a group of friends hosting fun, social events that brought together different social circles. At one of their self-funded cheeseburger picnics the group asked people to bring a donation to the Food Bank, which is when the Troutsmen had their Zeitgeist moment: they could have fun AND raise money for worthy causes. It wasn't long after that when the society discovered that they could leverage sponsorship and partnerships to create bigger events and raise more money. If someone hosts an event - like the fashion show - they make it a Troutsmen event by bringing the entertainment and the people.