Ladies and Gentlemen of the ANU Mountaineering Club AGM of 2014: Wear Sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the outdoors, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my speech has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience, and words stolen from various famous speeches. I will dispense this now.
In the Beginning, which was around March last year, I moved to Canberra to start my PhD. Office life was void, formless and empty, so I said “Let there be outdoor sports!”, and I joined the Mountaineering Club, for I saw that it was good. I threw myself into every activity, attending more than fifty trips before the end of the year.
Yet something was missing. I had to ask myself not what my club could do for me, but what I could do for my club!
As such, this year I was the one of the Kayaking Officers of the Club. Under my dictatorship, the number of trips rose from 38 to 72. I personally led dozens of new members on their first kayaking Come and Try session, and I personally encouraged all of them to submerse themselves in the sticky, carp-ridden embrace of Lake Burley Griffin.
This role gave me experience of the politics and meetings of the Mountaineering Club, and let me learn a lot about the complicated processes of Ordering Gear, Approving Trips, and Deciding How Much To Charge For Sausages At Barbecues. Yet although I love kayaking, I wanted to encourage all sports in the club.
You see, I have a dream. I have a dream that little kayakers and skiiers will be able to join hands with little climbers and canyoners as brothers and sisters of the Mountaineering Club. I have a dream that beginners will always have opportunity to attend trips of all sports, and that trip leaders will always have encouragement to progress their skills and teach others in turn.
In pursuit of this dream, I say Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more! I nominate myself as your President, knowing that I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king. I say that we join forces with the rowers in fighting for a better boat shed, and I say that we fight for longer climbing wall hours. We shall fight this battle on the beaches, and fight it in the Sport and Rec, and we shall never surrender. We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I nominate myself as your President, knowing that in this role I would continue the great legacy of outdoor pursuits of this club, and continue to encourage people to go into the woods to live deliberately, to live deep and suck the marrow of life. I do not know what will happen at the end of my PhD in 2016, and whether I will remain in Canberra. But this distant future is not for me to decide. All I have to decide is what to do with the time that is given me.
Post Script: Unfortunately, the last paragraph of this speech was missing at the actual recitation of it at the AGM, since I’d only written this speech two hours prior to giving it, and once I got interrupted I couldn’t remember the rest of it…
Post Post Script: And for those who weren’t there: yes, I am now the President of the Australian National University Mountaineering Club for 2015. The Presidential event, Cocktails on the Castle, was a successful celebration of everything ginger and red in my honour.