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Discussion Forum - LDWA ideas forum - Barriers to recruitment!

Author: Louise Whittaker
Posted: Tue 17th May 2016, 23:00
Joined: 1994
Local Group: Staffordshire
Friendliness and being welcoming to new people is really important - and [where appropriate] encouragement - perhaps building their confidence in completing a challenge walk - or social inclusion on a social walk. Earlier this year I enjoyed the company of two 'newbies' on their first challenge walk - and [hopefully] helped them relax into it - rather than constantly fret about the time/mileage. Regarding social walks - many years ago when I was new - my first social walk was most horrible - so fast I did not think I would survive - and it is only in the last three years that I have dared venture out again!!! - and now really enjoy them. And then I remember my first 50 miler - felt very daunting - but benefited greatly from folks sharing tips and encouraging me to have a go. So - the distances we cover might seems impossible to some folks - and if we want new walkers - one aspect is about making the seemingly impossible - be possible.
Author: John Page
Posted: Mon 4th Apr 2016, 9:04
Joined: 2014
Local Group: High Peak

Thanks for your reply.

I ought to have made it clear in my original post the tremendous respect I have for Walk Leaders who give up so much of their time not only on the day but planning, recceeing etc to put walks together. Most of these individuals have tremendous knowledge of our 'great outdoors' and their willingness to share this with us enables our organisation to exist, providing us with the fun that we have!

The intention of my post was to perhaps debate how members, both new and existing, could be a little more selective, about which events they participated in, for the good of both themselves and others, which I feel would only be possible with a tad more pre walk info. Consistency would of course be an issue, hence I agree with you that a preset grid provided by the LDWA would assist walk leaders based perhaps on distance, terrain, elevation etc.

I note your comments regarding the fitness of younger members, but long distance walking (and I stress that I am a complete novice) seems to be a totally different discipline to, for example running. I never ceased to be amazed by the stamina and fitness of our more 'senior' members who are a great endorsement for the benefits of LD Walking.
Author: Iain Connell
Posted: Fri 1st Apr 2016, 11:38
Joined: 2010
Local Group: East Lancashire
The attachments that came with the AGM email featured a 'History Of' document whose data included that of Hundred entrants throughout the event's history. It showed that in 1972 the average age of Hundreders was just 31; in 2015 it had risen, along with the LDWA itself, to 59.

According to Steph Carter, membership numbers are increasing at around 3% per year. Whether this is enough to pull the majority age profile down is harder to determine, since (says Steph) ages are not recorded in members' data. What does seem clear is that there are a lot of us old(er) lifetime walkers whose experience runs (or, rather, walks at a pace not less than a national average) into decades. Just how many decades that is, and how many of them we have left, is a moot point.

Putting it baldly, a lot of us can't reasonably expect to be continuing for more than two or three further decades. Unless there are lot of young(er) lemmings coming up behind, by 2040 or thereabouts we'll have disappeared off the demographic cliff. By then it might, repeat MIGHT, need a replacement figure of a least 15% per annum in order for membership numbers to be maintained at current levels. We're all doomed, then ?

Maybe not. The new membership profile seems to contain a large number of runners or other endurance-discipline athletes wishing to 'downsize' to distance walking. If so, this is good news for the age demographic since such people will tend to be younger, perhaps less, even, than 40. I was slightly surprised to read from John's piece that walk 'difficulty' might be an issue for new members, since, perhaps by definition, they tend to be fitter than average for their age group.

However, I take the point that the more information is available about a walk the more likely it will be to attract new members who less sure of what to expect. For social walks (a first route to challenge events ?), perhaps an overall grade or rating which includes ascents and gradients. But it might be a good idea for social walk coordinators to remind new or returning members that their first point of contact is the walk leader. In my case, recent walks have been more successful (in terms of numbers) with less, rather than more, advance information - leaving plenty of room for any changes of circumstances, or just late route choices.

Author: John Page
Posted: Wed 30th Mar 2016, 11:41
Joined: 2014
Local Group: High Peak
I have been LD walking for c 6years now and have been a member of the LDWA for some 3 years.

Having walked with a number of local groups, it does seem a fact that the average age of the membership continually increases without new 'blood' being recruited. I have also noted that comment is occasionally made in 'Strider' regarding concerns re recruitment.

Until recently I was also secretary of a local running club and we found that to recruit new members it was vital that we made it clear what new members could expect when participating in Club activity.

Whilst I know that the LDWA describes what in general can be expected my experience is that even the 'advertised' distance of individual walks is quite often inaccurate. Not of course a problem for 'seasoned' walkers but for people new to the game this can be a make or break issue.

Additionally I am surprised that very little indication (beyond distance) is given regarding the difficulty of individual walks and surely at a time when there are endless websites to calculate elevation levels etc this would not pose too much of a problem for the leader. In general only the leader seems to know the route in advance of walks and would it not be possible for each walk to be graded against a preset LDWA standard based on distance,elevation,terrain etc.

The point of this note is that I feel that potential new members are deterred from joining because of this lack of information. If it existed it would allow 'beginners' to be selective regarding the walks that they initially participated in, without a fear of over committing themselves and spoiling the walk for others.

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