Article as featured in the April/May 2016 Pick & Shovel Gazette
By BRAD JONES
GPAA Managing Editor
The Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association has unveiled its 2016 GPAA-LDMA Gold Mining Outings schedule with some exciting changes. The outings are open to all Gold Prospectors Association of America and LDMA members, said GPAA Executive Director of Operations Dominic Ricci. A new twist this year is that all the outings are seven days and include a Meet ’n’ Greet Miners Barbecue at the beginning of the event and an Off the Grill Miners’ Dinner near the end of the events, Ricci said. And, all of the outings now run from Sunday to Saturday.
Why seven-day events?
In years past, the outings have been three-day or five-day outings, sometimes open to GPAA members and sometimes not.
“Over the years, the number of participants who would come for only three days has begun to diminish,” Ricci said.
Because these are national outings, many members travel long distances, so they want to extend their visit to make the trip more worthwhile, he said.
“As we’ve gotten into more education and running more material, people are coming out to the camps for longer stays,” Ricci said. “Participants want to spend more time at the camps, and sometimes with all the different activities we have going on, there’s not enough time even for people who’ve stayed for five days at past outings.”
Old-school social networking
LDMA Executive Director of Development and Gold Trails TV host Kevin Hoagland, who attends almost all of the outings is a longtime member, knew GPAA founder George “Buzzard” Massie and his wife, Wilma, as well as their sons Tom and Perry.
Hoagland often pines for the good ol’ days when people weren’t in such a rush and took the time to get together with other prospectors around a campfire. Nothing beats planning an adventure and getting out to one of the LDMA camps to rub elbows and mine with other members, he said.
“I remember when outings were educational and social events,” Hoagland said. “The idea of standing there all day throwing dirt into a highbankers was almost secondary. It was the social aspect of going to a camp and meeting old and new friends that made it fun.”
And, though the outings are focused around teaching people how to find their own gold, the real treasure is often found in the people themselves.
“The gold is sitting around that campfire — listening to the stories of the old-timers. And now, I am one of the old-timers,” said Hoagland, who turns 55 this June.
The Common Dig
While the Common Dig and Gold Split has always been the main draw, the outings also offer a hands-on learning experience that is invaluable for newcomers, and a social experience that just can’t be beat.
“For years, it seemed we got away from the social aspect,” said Hoagland, who wants to see outings return to less slinging dirt, more learning in a more enjoyable social atmosphere. “We want to keep it fun, but educational.”
Hoagland, who is an expert gold detectorist encourages members to bring their metal detectors to the outings.
“With metal detecting, it’s usually giving a talk and then helping people individually with their metal detectors,” Hoagland said.
He also enjoys showing newbies the finer points of gold recovery and panning.
“And another thing I like doing is the geology walk,” Hoagland said. “Last year at Loud Mine, for example, we found one helluva hole and we took a lot of gold out of it.”
Exploring the camps and the different layers of dirt and clay, and getting down to bedrock is what prospecting is all about — learning where to look for gold deposits.
“Let’s go look at why there is gold there,” he said. “We’re talking placer gold geology, so it’s ‘Why is the gold there and how did it get there?’ ”
Local GPAA-LDMA Gold Mining Outings
Both Ricci and Hoagland have been developing ways to make the outings more meaningful to members — an unforgettable, fun experience.
While the national GPAA-LDMA Gold Mining Outings are set for seven days, plans are underway to hold possibly shorter locally organized outings at the camps. For more information about how to organize a local outing, please call Dominic Ricci at 1-800-551-9707, ext. 163.
The all new seven-day GPAA-LDMA Outings schedule has been announced. Mark your calendar with the following dates for the remaining 2016 Outings:
• Stanton, Ariz. March 20-26
• Italian Bar, Calif. April 24-30
• Scott River, Calif. May 22-28
• Burnt River, Ore. May 29-June 4
• Loud Mine, Ga. Sept. 18-24
• Vein Mtn., N.C. Sept. 25-Oct.1
• Stanton, Ariz. Oct. 16-22
• Duisenburg, Calif. Oct. 23-29
For more information about the GPAA-LDMA Outings, go to www.facebook.com/LDMACamps or call (888) 465-3717.
The cost of admission to the 2016 GPAA-LDMA Gold Mining Outings is:
• GPAA members: $250
• LDMA member: $150
• Ask about our special rates if you plan to bring your spouse along!
Brad Jones is the Managing Editor/Communications Director for the Gold Prospectors Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org