By the Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club
Wandering or volksmarching (people’s march) can be described as travelling without any clear destination, to ramble without a definite purpose or objective, to roam, rove or stray. Wandering in this context is about walking or hiking.
Volksmarching actually does have a goal or destination, although sometimes the marchers do find themselves lost or deviating from the path to visit a nearby castle, a waterfall, a Christmas market, or a beer or wine festival.
“On the Bad Rappenau-Grombach walk near Sinsheim, many of us happily spent time off the trail and in the Auto and Technik Museum, enjoying its collection of historical planes, trains and automobiles,” said Ann Kathy Reed, president, Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club (SGAWC).
Wandering is noncompetitive and one of the safest, most popular internationally recognized sports. The sport was founded in Germany in the 1960’s to meet the needs of a community event that required no special level of fitness and incorporated all ages.
By the end of the 1960s, the IVV (International Federation of Popular Sports) was formed, covering all volksports: walking, biking, swimming and cross-country skiing. In 1972, the SGAWC was formed. Since then, it has been trails all over the world. SGAWC is the oldest German-American wandering club in the country. Comprised of military and civilian Germans and Americans, it’s where participants always find themselves amongst a great social group of companions. The club offers a way to see Germany and other countries, meet new friends, and have a lot fun. SGAWC members range in age from 5 to 85 years old. This very social club takes part in events throughout the year all over Europe, including its own annual Wandertag (club sponsored hiking event) held in Stuttgart.
SGAWC second vice president Ron Jones said he and a friend were recently walking to a restaurant in a tiny town in the Swabian Alps. He was amazed when a couple drove up and said “Hi Dennis!” to his wandering friend. It was a chance encounter that led to lunch together.
Wandering is a great way to see the real Germany. Service members are encouraged to join early in their tour to take advantage of the club’s great members-only bus trips and to wander local walks with members every weekend. One of the biggest advantages of the club is German-American friendship. It’s a good vehicle for learning about our host nation. You don’t have to be a member to participate, although being an SGAWC member has many advantages: bus trips to IVV walks in and out of Germany at reduced prices, pre-registration at walks, group raffles at monthly meetings and purchases of club merchandise at reduced prices.
What to expect at a volksmarch
Volksmarches begin at the Starthalle (starting point). Depending on what time participants arrive (usually 7 – 9 a.m.), there may be cars parked on the streets; sometimes there are parking areas and sometimes parking is a little way off. It’s here participants check-in, meet friends, chat a while and eat and drink a bit. This is also the place where you usually end your walk (there are exceptions). The Starthalle can be small or huge with live music and a real party going on. Sometimes there are so many people you can actually get lost a little or find yourself just drifting with the crowd, so pay attention and look for the sign “Startkarten-Ausgabe.”
“A bunch of us were at a Starthalle once, schmoozing and eating after walking, when a couple arrived a bit late but still intending to walk,” Reed said. “However, they got into talking and eating as well, and they never did get out on the trail.”
If you belong to a club like SGAWC, let the organizers know that you are from Stuttgart (some clubs have SGAWC listed under A instead of S). The more people who show up to a march from a volkmarching club, the better chance for that club to win a group prize.
At this point you must pay for either an orange card or a yellow card. The regular card is without a prize (ohne Medaillen) and is about 2.00 euros. This card entitles you to get credit for the walk with the DVV/IVV and covers insurance and the free refreshments at the control points. Participants must fill out the card to ensure insurance coverage). The “Auszeichnung” card is about 4.00 Euros (may vary) but you get a prize or medallion (mit Medaillen). These prizes can be anything. If you do not see them on the table, just ask the person at the table and they will show you. Sometimes the prizes are mugs, plates, fuzzy bunny rabbits, model trucks … you just never know. Once you pay for your start card you can find your friends, eat/drink or just head out and hit the trail. You may want to take your camera as the scenery can be worth capturing.
Upcoming volksmarches in August and September
- Aug. 12: Weissach-Flacht / Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch, Trails: 6/10/15 km, starting 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., ending at 6 p.m.
- Aug. 13: Filderstadt-Plattenhardt (SGAWC) Pre-Walk, Trails: 20 km, starting at 9:30 a.m.
- Aug. 13: Weissach-Flacht/Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch, Trails: 6/10/15 km, starting 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., ending at 5 p.m.
- Aug. 13: St. Peter/Glottertal/Baden-Württemberg, Trails: 5/10/20 km, starting 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., ending at 5 p.m.
- Aug. 16: Stuttgart-Glemswald/Baden-Württemberg – guided volksmarch, Trails: 6/14 km, starting at 9 a.m.
- Aug. 19: Crailsheim/Baden-Württemberg, Trails: 5/10/21/30/42 km, starting at 5:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Aug. 20: Filderstadt-Plattenhardt (SGAWC) – Pre-Walk, Trails: 5 km – Start: 9:30 a.m.
- Aug. 20: Crailsheim/Baden-Württemberg, Trails: 5/10/21/30/42 km, starting at 5:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., ending at 5 p.m.
- Aug. 26: Renningen/ Baden-Württemberg – guided volksmarch, Trails: 14 km, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 2:30 p.m.
- Aug 26: Creglingen/Unterfranken, Trails: 5/10/20 km, starting 6 a.m. – 2 p.m., ending at 5 p.m.
- Aug. 27: Creglingen / Unterfranken, Trails: 5/10/20 km, starting 5 a.m. – 1 p.m., ending at 4 p.m.
- Sept. 2: Sinsheim-Waldangelloch/Baden-Württemberg
- Sept. 3: Sinsheim-Waldangelloch/Baden-Württemberg
- Sept. 9: Darmsheim / Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch
- Sept. 9: Östringen-Odenheim/Eichelberg/Baden-Württemberg, Trails: 5/10/20 km. starting 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., ending at 5 p.m.
- Sept. 9: Kitzingen/Unterfranken
- Sept. 9: Darmsheim/Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch
- Sept. 9: Östringen-Odenheim / Eichelberg / Baden-Württemberg, Trails: 5/10/20 km, starting 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., ending at 5 p.m.
- Sept. 10: Kitzingen/Unterfranken
- Sept. 16: Hildrizhausen/Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch
- Sept. 17: Hildrizhausen/Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch
- Sept. 23: Renningen/Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch, Trails: 7/13 km, starting at noon – 3 p.m., ending at 6 p.m.
- Sept. 23: Ittlingen/Baden-Württemberg
- Sept. 24: Renningen/Baden-Württemberg – Stammtisch, Trails: 7/13 km, starting 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., ending at 5 p.m
- Sept. 24: Ittlingen/Baden-Württemberg
- Sept. 30: Crailsheim-Tiefenbach / Baden-Württemberg
- Oct. 1: Filderstadt-Plattenhardt, the annual SGAWC/Baden-Württemberg walk, Trails: 6/10/20 km starting 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., ending at 5 p.m. – The starthalle is at Weilerhauhalle, Weilerhau 2, 70794 Filderstadt-Plattenhardt.
For detailed information about volksmarches, visit the club homepage at www.sgawc.org/us.
Editor’s note: Next month, learn some volksmarching vocabulary and read more about what to expect along the trail. Visit a story that was done last year about Volksmarching