Individuals interested in joining the Belle Meade Hunt (GA) quickly learn what they need to know in the hunting field, and they also learn what is expected of them as members. The hunt holds an annual Foxhunting Seminar that all new members are required to attend, whether or not they have hunted elsewhere.
New members learn that they are expected to have fun and to be contributors. “Mandatory Volunteerism” is the principle, and every member must subscribe to it. From that institutional expectation, the unique Belle Meade culture has developed.
It all began with the hunt’s founder, the late Master James Wilson, an inspirational leader who believed in teamwork. According to the seminar handout explaining the principle of mandatory volunteerism, “Master James knew that it took every member chipping in to make Belle Meade the place we have all come to love. As a member you were expected to respond with a willing, ‘Yes, sir,’ to anything you were asked to do. Most of us would have jumped through hoops of fire if the man asked us to! One of the unique things about our hunt that drew all of you here was the tradition of working as a family for the good of the hunt.”