Appalachian Mountain Club and Atlantique

 By Kirsten Corssen

AMC volunteers

It’s human nature to want to explore this beautiful planet.Whether it’s the open ocean or the silent woods, these landscapes mesmerize us and leave us wanting more. The Appalachian Mountain Club is a group started for those craving the outdoor experience among some of the best places in the nation left to explore.

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) was founded in 1876. This club quickly became a matter of devotion in many members’ lives, giving them refuge from congested urban settings for a spell of time. Room and board in their rustic lodges, huts, and cabins continues to be a benefit of their membership. AMC’s Northeast chapter has more than 2,000 outdoor recreation activities per year, and more than 12,000 members that reside in the New York City metro area, Southeastern New York, and Northeastern New Jersey.

AMC’s Fire Island compound right here in Atlantique has been a fixture since 1928. Keeping a modest profile, one can forget it’s in our own backyard. While AMC may be more famous for their remote mountain retreats, the Atlantique cabin standing on lush grounds provides an uplifting beach going experience.

After having the pleasure of visiting and talking with volunteers and guests at the Fire Island location, I was able to see what the club was all about. It’s like a hostel on Fire Island. Inside the clubhouse there are two shared rooms with many bunk beds, a communal kitchen, and bathrooms. Outside you’ll find a selection of small sailboats, kayaks, beach chairs and umbrellas. On the weekends you’ll see their activities in action including various game nights, bird watching, and just relaxing on Fire Island’s world-class beaches. This location is also open to non-members of the AMC that can pay per night, with sign-ups online, making this a favorite AMC location.

One of the volunteers is John Maier. He has many roles at the AMC. He teaches sailing, does maintenance work, and cooks delicious food for the members on the weekends, so it is safe to say he stays busy. “It is truly the perfect place to spend a summer volunteering,” says John. “And the perfect place for members or non-members to visit with many activities.”

Unfortunately, this summer just might be the last for the beloved AMC Fire Island cabin. In early March 2018, the Boston-based AMC executive board proposed shutting down and selling the facility. An increasingly residential nature to Fire Island over time, as well as climate change were among their cited concerns.

Regulars who frequent the cabin cried foul, saying the board made assumptions without visiting the location, or consulting the member constituency. A resistance movement quickly organized. The backlash prompted the executive committee to give the matter a second look. A site visit to Fire Island took place just a few weeks ago. Regulars to AMC Fire Island are hopeful their evaluation went well, but final decisions on the matter have yet to be made.

Fire Island too gentrified? Let’s hear what the neighbors have to say. Sue (who you met in my last column) expressed only positive feelings for the AMC presence here. “I think the best thing about the AMC is that it gives people who might not otherwise be able to experience our beautiful beach a chance to do so,” said Sue. “We are more than happy to share our little slice of heaven with them.”

If the Atlantique facility is sold, some prime virgin real estate will be on the market, and subject to development. The AMC executive board’s vision of gentrification will be that much closer to the truth.

Until next summer … be well Atlantique!

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