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China Four Seasons Club: Non-profit Spotlight

Four Seasons clubhouse

Their Mission, Their Goals

by Steve Ball

Founded in 1970, the China Four Seasons Club is a growing nonprofit club organized to bring together enthusiasts of outdoor activities of all sorts. The club was organized after a merger between the China Lake Association and the China Regional Snowmobilers organizations. While most of their activities revolve around snowmobiling and ATV riding, the club, in fact, offers more to the community and its families.

In speaking with Tom Rumpf, club president, and Gail Tibbetts, past club president, it is obvious they see the club as a focal point for China and its surrounding towns’ people to get outside and enjoy the local area.

“This is really a four seasons club with events for everyone,” Rumpf said. There’s obviously snowmobiling and ATV riding, but in addition, the club has tried to broaden the offerings of the club. Recently the Four Seasons Club partnered with the China Village Volunteer Fire Department to sponsor and manage the China Lake Annual Ice Fishing Derby.

The club’s work during the year involves managing 34 miles of snowmobile trails and 21 miles of ATV trails in the China Lake region. All of the manpower for trail maintenance, grooming and upkeep is done by volunteers. According to Rumpf, the trails managed by the club are very popular, attracting riders and enthusiasts from throughout the state and New England. It’s busy work of which the club is rightly proud.

It is the work on the trails that keeps the attention of most members. Aside from the cost of building bridges, clearing storm and wind damage, and running the grooming vehicles, Rumpf and his team spend a lot of time talking with landowners to gain approval for trail access. Additionally, Rumpf is in contact with the Maine State Department of Conservation to assure that all the trails are in compliance and ask for guidance on major repair work. “These trails,” Rumpf said, “are more than just for snowmobilers and ATV riders. They get used by horseback riders, bikers, hikers, snowshoers and cross country skiers.”

The club, according to Rumpf, is really there to serve both the membership, numbering approximately 200, and the community. This is seen in the varied activities the club either sponsors or is involved in with other organizations. Over the Christmas holiday season the club donated money for families in need and then sponsored a raffle for four decorated Christmas trees stocked with presents underneath. Rumpf and his team are also partnering to assist with promoting the China School Forest.

The clubhouse is located on seven acres along Lakeview Drive, across from the China Town Office, with a beach and lake access. There’s a kitchen and main hall that serves the social needs of the club and is available to anyone to rent for private functions. The beach is remarkable in its somewhat secluded and protected setting. In the summer, docks are laid out to provide for swimming, fishing and boating, and the area is set-up for picnicking. In fact, according to Gail Tibbetts, the beach is increasingly becoming a prime attraction for families.

It is apparent the club is striving for ways to better serve the community. “I would like to organize a winter carnival around the ice fishing derby, with different activities for children and non-fishermen,” said Rumpf. This might include sledding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

The club would be a remarkable organization just because of its location and available space, but it’s the leaders and membership that are visibly shaping this nonprofit into a valuable community asset. It is apparent the China Lake community would be a much different place if not for the impact of the China Four Seasons Club.

The Town Line will continue with a series of articles on local nonprofit groups and their work in their respective communities. To include your group, contact The Town Line at townline@townline.org.