St. Albert Trekkers: 35 years of fun, fitness, and friendship

ST. ALBERT – As the St. Albert Trekkers Volkssport Club marks its 35th anniversary, its vibrant spirit of “Fun, Fitness, and Friendship” has never been more apparent.

Forged in the crucible of passion for walking and camaraderie in 1988, the club today stands as a testament to the power of community engagement and healthy living.

“The Trekkers initiated the special ‘Alberta Majesty’ September walks in 1989 and were the hosts for the first 11 years,” said Lorna Allen, an avid Trekker.

Volkssport, which is translated to ‘people’s sport’, was created over half a century ago in Europe when a need was recognized for healthy, organized, non-competitive activities, suitable for people of all ages. The concept came to Canada in 1983 when the first club was founded in Nova Scotia and quickly spread across the country. The first Alberta walk was held shortly thereafter.

“We’re a member of the Volkssport Association of Alberta (VAA), the Canadian Volkssport Federation (CVF), and the International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV).”

The motto “Fun, Fitness, and Friendship” aptly embodies the spirit of the St. Albert club and Allen said, approachability and amiability are key.

“We welcome new walkers and make them feel comfortable. One of our regular walkers will pair up with a new walker, introduce them to other walkers, and chat with them along the way.”

And the social dimension isn’t confined to the trails.

“We often have social visits after our walks. We have potluck dinners, we celebrate July 1st, and we have two walks with a bratwurst & sauerkraut lunch for Oktoberfest.”

The Trekkers have left their footprint by organizing notable events, such as the Alberta Walking Festival.

“We had an organizing committee that met several times over the year, choosing walks that we felt would best showcase our region to out-of-town walkers,” said Allen.

Their strategic planning ensured a memorable experience for all participants, with highlights including walks through Whitemud Creek, the North Saskatchewan River, Riverlot 56, and the ravines and paths in Oakmont and Erin Ridge.

To ensure inclusivity, the Trekkers went to great lengths to cater to all pace preferences, with group leaders for fast, moderate, and relaxed walkers.

“One of our main focuses was to ensure that a good number of people from our club were familiar with the routes that we were walking, and were able to lead groups of different speeds at the festival,” Allen adds.

The club prides itself on selecting picturesque walk routes that highlight local rivers, ponds, ravines, parks, and natural areas, while keeping safety paramount. Walk routes in St Albert, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Legal, Morinville, and Edmonton showcase scenic trails and notable places of interest.

“Besides scenic trails, we develop routes that highlight places of interest, such as the Alberta Legislature, the University of Alberta, the Muttart Conservatory, St. Albert Place, the Edmonton funicular, to name a few. In Spruce Grove the focus is on the urban forest. In Legal our route showcases the historic murals. In St. Albert, one of our routes which starts at the Lois Hole Provincial Day Use Area focuses on the John Poole Boardwalk, the BLESS observation platform, and the new Grey Nuns White Spruce Park.”

Since its inception, the St. Albert Trekkers have become an integral part of the local community, hosting walks, supporting local businesses, and even providing workshops on using Nordic poles.

Looking to the future, the Trekkers plan to celebrate their 35th Anniversary with a special event and continue hosting Alberta Majesty every September. But the ultimate goal remains consistent: to grow the club and attract new members.

Allen encourages everyone interested to get involved.

“We have a website – and all our walks are listed there under ‘Scheduled Walks’. Come out to a walk, talk to the host who will be wearing a yellow vest, and get signed in. They will have membership forms and new member packages available.”

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