Many walking clubs begin with a few experienced walkers or a small group who have decided to take a new interest further. The step of actually forming a walking club is often seen as a rather daunting one, but it needn’t be.
Initiating some publicity is the first step, a few of the following ideas might help.
- Organise a suitable venue, date and time for a meeting.
- A few weeks before, leave some leaflets giving details of venue, date and time in the local Library / Town Hall / Tourist Centre / Sports Centre. In fact anywhere where people are likely to glance at it and perhaps pick it up.
- Produce a poster with some details and place in local shops.
- Advertise the meeting in local papers.
At your meeting
- Have a brief introductory talk from someone with experience of walking and walking groups outlining necessary equipment , fitness levels , health benefits , OS maps etc
- Produce a brief questionnaire for immediate completion by those who have come to the meeting.
- Useful headings for completion might include details of Rambling/Hill-Walking or rambling experience / Equipment owned. eg walking boots / waterproof clothing /backpacks / knowledge or interests possessed which might be useful to a walking group / contact numbers and e-mail addresses.
- Appoint if possible on the night, a Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer with a small committee of perhaps three.
- Discuss and arrange a few walks immediately, this gets the club moving and into the countryside. Use your experience to gauge what kind of walking would be suitable for the age ranges and experience of those present.
Arrange a committee meeting :
- Draw up a Walks Programme incorporating dates, starting point grid references , starting times and approximate routes.
- Appoint a walk leader(s),if possible, for each walk . Look at programmes of member clubs on UFRC website. This will suggest many possible walks.
- Produce a set of club rules e.g. minimum age / dogs or no dogs / Leave No Trace / Country Code / personal gear and equipment required etc.#
- Set out some group responsibilities.
- Discuss club membership fee and insurance – joining the UFRC is a useful first step here.
- Aspects of training and possible grants might be considered.
- Produce ideas for the constitution for your club.
After your committee meeting :
- Get your programme published or printed . If you are lucky a local sports or outdoor shop might sponsor it. If not there will always be someone who can produce an initial programme cheaply on a computer.
- Publicise your future walks in local papers – perhaps send in a report after your first walk. You will be surprised at how many inquiries will result from this.
For the future :
- Draw up a Club Constitution
- Produce a database with details of members e.g. names , addresses , telephone numbers (home and mobile ) , a contact number for emergencies , e-mail addresses.
- Think about producing a club newsletter or factsheet, perhaps quarterly . In the future you might have a straightforward member orientated website built and as your club grows this will be useful for communication and attraction of new members.