If you spend a lot of time hiking and camping throughout the year just try and imagine how much it costs to keep all the paths clear and in a good enough state to give everybody safe passage. Groups of passionate volunteers have always formed to work alongside paid services no matter what the cause and the outdoor community is no different.
Anything you can do will help and it doesn’t require a lot of commitment in time and energy. Below are just some examples of how you could give a little bit of your time this year outdoor volunteering.
Local Volunteer Groups
Many local and national park authorities work in conjunction with local groups of people who give up their time to improve the outdoors for everybody where ever you choose to spend time.
Ive seen volunteers maintaining the towpaths and keeping routes open by dredging the canals on the UK’s extensive network to groups looking after small patches of local woodland. The last example is something Ive experience recently as there is one such group who do a great job of repairing and clearing the paths that weave around one of my favorite local woodland walks.
In the UK the Ramblers Association has fought for years to protect and conserve the countryside so we can all enjoy it. They offer different ways that you can help depending on your particular skill set, fitness level and how much time you have to spare.
Helping out at Charity Events
Running any walking or hiking event to raise money for charity can involve a lot of man power with marshals needed lining the route to make sure hikers are safe (and going in the right direction), right down to the basic tasks like preparing food and drink for participants and other volunteers.
An example of this is the Peak Distract Challenge that is now in its second year and looking for volunteers to help out at one of there events in August 2014 and beyond.
Helping Without Knowing it
As the ramblers association are happy to point out just walking a path makes a difference from simply showing its actively being used to the natural way that humans have of keeping the grass and any overgrowing vegetation clear as we push through it. You could go one step further and get yourself a big stick to take swipes at any vegetation that gets in your way.
A path that’s easy to use will ultimately attract more walkers who by themselves will keep the vegetation down without purposely going out of their way. Lets face it no one wants to be battling with walls of nettles (and the insects they house) while out for a summers day stroll.
If not us then Who?
Budgets for maintenance on the very paths we dragged ourselves along every year are being cut back all the time leaving those whose job it is to perform their upkeep with tough decisions about what actually gets done. I know its been said many times but without some active community action will the places we enjoy now still be there for our children’s children?
From actively campaigning or fundraising to keep access to the countryside for all, simply keeping paths clear or picking up any rubbish you see there is always something we can do to improve the outdoor experience for everybody.