Starting a Rambling club
The first steps
Forming a rambling club is often seen as rather daunting, but it needn’t be. If you already have a set of walkers that have met regularly it might involve as little as setting up a virtual or in-person meeting to choose a committee of may be three people and deciding on issues such as annual contributions, a walk programme, affiliation to the Federation, insurance, outings etc.
If you want to set up a new local rambling group and or expand your membership with like-minded people a few of the following suggestions might help.
- Organise a suitable venue, date and time for a meeting. Virtual meetings on Zoom or Microsoft-Teams are a useful alternative and save people transport costs and time.
- A few weeks before, leave some leaflets giving details of venue, date and time in the local Library / Town Hall / Tourist Centre / Sports Centre/ shops. In fact, anywhere where people are likely to glance at it and perhaps pick it up. Setting up a QR code may help.
- Advertise the meeting in local papers if there is one. They may be helpful and defray costs.
At your meeting
- Have a brief introductory talk from someone with experience of rambling and rambling groups outlining necessary equipment, fitness levels, and health benefits.
- Produce a brief questionnaire for immediate completion by those attending.
- Useful headings for completion might include details of Rambling/Hill-Walking or rambling experience, knowledge or interests possessed which might be useful to a rambling group, contact telephone 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 rambling would be suitable for the age ranges and experience of those present.
For future meetings of the committee
- Draw up a Walks Programme incorporating dates, starting point grid references, starting times and approximate routes. Indicting the length in time and distance and level of ascent may be helpful for members to evaluate whether their fitness level is up to them completing the walk
- Appoint a walk leader(s), if possible, for each walk. Look at programmes of member clubs on the Federation’s 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 responsibilities of the leaders and more importantly the personal responsibilities of the members.
- Discuss club membership fee and insurance – joining the UFRC is a useful first step here.
- Aspects of training and possible grants might be considered.
- 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
- Produce ideas for the constitution for your club. Many existing clubs will be happy to share their one as a template to help drawing one up.
- Produce a database with details of members e.g. names, addresses, telephone numbers (landline or 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.