What Have You Done for the Hash Lately?

The hash, I believe, is unique in that it has no professional core or cadre. Somewhere within the structure of virtually every other “volunteer nonprofit” athletic, social, or charitable group – be it Road Runners USA, the national bike teams participating in the Tour de France, even Girl Scouts International – there’s a CEO, a CFO, a secretary, and a fund raising staff, all drawing salaries from the organization.

But the Hash House Harriers, with tens of thousands of members and well over 1,200 established clubs around the world, operates on a purely voluntary basis – no money, no salaries, no formal organization, not even much of a paper trail – and yet we manage to do many of the things our “nonprofit” cousins do: we plan, raise money for, and host regional, national, and international events; we keep records from those events and pass on surplus funds to the hosts of future events; we create and maintain national and international channels of communication between clubs and members; we even have our own magazines and web sites where we organize and announce future events.

That’s great, but if you’re like me, you appreciate all that in an academic way. To really understand how volunteerism makes the hash work, you have to look at a smaller, more comprehensible part of the picture – your own hash, for example. I’ll take as a given that you love the hash. You love the trails, the camaraderie, the whole hash experience. And you can take as a given that the other members of your hash feel the same way.

Who makes the good times happen, week after week, month after month? Volunteers, investing time and sweat because they love hashing. Someone has to lay the trail. Someone has to get the word out to members so they know where the start is. Someone has to schlepp the beer and bags. Someone has to get the snacks. Someone has to pull the circle together and lead us in down-downs and song. Volunteers make it all happen.

So, we finally get to the point of this rant: What have you done for the hash lately?

Most hash groups I’ve been part of have 30 to 60 regular members. Out of that, four or five can be counted on to volunteer for and fill mismanagement positions, as long as the duties aren’t too demanding. Maybe one or two others are willing to take on the really hard jobs, like beermaster or scribe. A larger group – ten to fifteen hashers, say – will be your regular hares, and another five or so will hare about once a year. The rest – the majority of hashers in most clubs – never offer to help. They’re there to enjoy the good times the volunteers create. Adjust these numbers if your hash is larger or smaller, but I bet you’ll find the ratios are about the same.

By now it should be obvious this rant is directed at non-volunteer slackers. Yeah, you . . . isn’t it about time you paid the hash back for some of the good times it’s given you? You know the answer to that question, and it’s Yes.

So what can you do for the hash? Not all of us are great orators, born to be grandmasters or religious advisors. Not all of us have the writing talent to be good scribes. Not all of us have the patience – or the junkyard car – needed to a beermaster. But one thing any of us can do, once in a while, is lay trail. And what’s the one thing every hash seems to be chronically short of? Hares! C’mon, you’ve been putting it off long enough. It’s time to hare a trail for your hash!

You don’t have to hare all by yourself, unless you want to – most hashes are more than happy to pair inexperienced hares with experienced hares. You don’t have to worry about not being a great runner – after you lay your first trail you’ll never worry about that again. You don’t have to sweat getting caught – the experienced hares will teach you the tricks you need to know. You don’t have to invest a lot of time scouting and practicing a trail – sure, it takes a certain amount of time and effort, but it really isn’t that hard. You don’t have to top every trail ever laid – but once you start thinking like a hare, you’ll start to get a lot of great trail ideas you can put into practice. You can find some good discussions on haring fundamentals and tricks here, but the best thing to do is to talk to the experienced hares in your hash.

Now here’s the best part (you’ll have to trust me on this for now, but after you hare you’ll know it’s true): haring adds a new dimension of fun to hashing. There’s nothing to beat the thrill of laying a good trail, then finding a high place where you can watch the pack flailing about in the shiggy, trying to find On-In. It’s a little like being Satan for a day. Try it – you’ll like it!

You owe it to the hash. We all owe it to the hash. You know it’s the right thing to do, and once you’ve done it you’ll not only feel good, you’ll want to do it again and again. And just think – once you hare, you too can walk up to the slackers and say, “So what have you done for the hash lately?”

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