An Open Letter to Members of the Old Pueblo Chapter of APOC

It was easy to get caught up in the excitement of being the founding member of the Old Pueblo Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino, but life is too short to spend so much time working to promote the Camino de Santiago de Compostela that I so love when circumstances and certain people create an atmosphere whereby the enjoyment dies.

Often times during my tenure, I asked myself whether or not I respect those involved in the chapter, is the group cohesive and respectful of each other, do we bring to each monthly meeting knowledge and experiences to share with others without promoting our own agendas, and do I trust them?

My answers to those questions were “YES”, a resounding YES for the first year and one half of my tenure.

As Chapter founder and the officiator of the meetings, I was responsible for all administrative work of the chapter, scheduling presenters, leading each meeting, greeting the members, welcoming the new comers and basically getting information out to the group.  Because of my co-coordinator’s other responsibilities, I found myself doing everything most of the time, which was not ever a problem.  Founding and leading the Old Pueblo Chapter was a labor of love.

However, for the past 18 months or so, it was becoming evident to me one particular member had begun launching his own campaign to grasp control of the group.

With the passing of each month, this member’s rude interruptions of my greetings, his frequent comments regarding his dislike of the widely used John Brierley guidebooks and his attempts to bring others into his camp became obvious to all.  Other chapter members began making comments to me regarding his rudeness and the stance he took of being the only ‘veteran member’ who has the correct information on how to approach the Camino.

Truthfully, I did not, nor do I now possess the skills to tactfully put him on notice.  His outbursts became more frequent and his attitude of being in charge became exacerbated until finally I no longer wished to be part of the leadership of the Old Pueblo Chapter. I have since learned his actions of subterfuge were greater than I had imagined.  He has placed himself in the position of sending out private, password protected documents of how the ongoing meetings should be run.  Needless to say, I was not included on the distribution list.

He had warned me and I quote “Just please don’t assume your singular decision matches the wishes of the group at large.”  I hope he is reading this blog as I would like to say to him “Just please don’t assume your decisions on how the Chapter should be run, match the wishes of the group at large.”

His actions over the past 18 months, his stand on the mentioning of the tours I run (even though I have permission and was told there is not a conflict of interest by the National Board of APOC to do so) and his recent bullying attempts via email with me have changed the answers to the questions I have asked myself from “YES” to a very loud “NO”.

As a result of the recent events, I have resigned from my position as Chapter Coordinator.  After consultation with the Board of APOC, I have been assured they will be soliciting nominations and members who might be interested in filling the coordinator positions that are now vacant.  I have been assured that during the process of establishing new leadership, the chapter will continue as before with ongoing meetings.

I wish all the readers from the Old Pueblo Chapter the best of luck going forward and to the pilgrims who will be embarking on their Caminos this year I wish them all the blessings and magic the Camino bestows.

Ultreïa et Suseïa ~ Arlène