Today I received a note from Dena Nisenfeld Forster, a fellow alumna from the Philadelphia High School for Girls, and also a fellow grandmother. She sent some wonderful information about a great activity to do with your grandkids. I'm copying her note here with hopes that some of you will be inspired to take up volksmarching (a word derived from the German term for "people's walking").
>>My husband Stan and I have been actively involved with the American Volkssport Association for seventeen years. Volksmarching is for the most part a planned 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) or 10 km (6.2 miles) walk. Local clubs all over the world organize these walks and advertise them, giving the level of difficulty, the type of terrain, location, dates and times the walks are offered and other pertinent information. There are approximately 400 clubs in the United States hosting these walks. Many special programs have been developed in conjunction with the walks such as walking all fifty states (which my husband and I have done), walking all state capitals (which we have also done), walking all of the counties in a particular state (Maryland is ours.), and programs such as walking in all of the original colonies.
>>When we became active in the organization, we began to involve our children and grandchildren. At first we and/or their parents would walk pushing the kids in strollers. Later the grandkids would proudly walk the 6.2 miles on their own two feet. Our five oldest grandchildren walked with us in each of the original thirteen colonies. This feat not only exercised their bodies, but their minds as well. Each of them now knows with a certainty the names of the original colonies. In addition, as we motored with them from place to place we would teach them the names of all fifty states and their capitals. They were very proud at our oldest son's 40th birthday party to quiz the adults on the colonies and state capitals and show that they knew this information, especially when an adult did not.
>>Thanksgiving weekends are especially memorable for them because a Pennsylvania volksmarch club hosted walks in Hershey, Pennsylvania every year. The walks would begin on Friday afternoon and continue through Sunday noon. There were specific times during which one could walk, i.e. 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday afternoon, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday. For many years we traveled as a family, our three children, their spouses and our grandchildren, and spent Friday night and Saturday in Hershey walking and the kids' enjoying the park and, of course, the chocolate.
>>These walks are remembered with enthusiasm and fondness by every one of the grandchildren--we have nine. It is also gratifying that when their parents ask who they would like to invite on a trip that will include hiking, our names immediately surface as the only grandparents able to do so.
Anyone interested in this activity should refer to the very informative website <