About Us

The Freestate Happy Wanderers Walking Club is dedicated to offering quality, non-competitive walking, cycling and other sports events throughout the State of Maryland. As a member of the American Volkssport Association (AVA), we promote fun, fitness and friendship for all ages. Recognized by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports, AVA is continually updating and expanding its program of stress-free activities. The Volkssport movement began in southern Germany in the 1960s. In 1968, the International Volkssport Verband (IVV) was formed. The IVV has continued to grow and now includes more than 25 countries worldwide. The American Volkssport Association (AVA) became part of the IVV in 1979.

Freestate Happy Wanderers was founded in 1983 by Ed and Mavis Benningfield. The club's first walk was on September 17, 1983, near Fort Meade, Maryland. A total of 652 participated in the two-day event. Since then, the club has held over 300 events spanning virtually the entire breadth and height of Maryland, from Ocean City to the east, St. Mary’s City in the south, to Hancock and New Market to the west and north. By so doing, we promote the Maryland State Exercise … WALKING!

Our walks are usually 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) and 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long, and take about one or two hours to complete. We also sponsor social events, bus trips, picnics, and baseball outings. Our members come from all walks of life, including government, nonprofit, small and large business, students, retirees, and professionals. We share a love of fun, fitness and friendship.

A volksmarch, literally translated "people's walk," is a leisurely walk through a scenic, historic, or otherwise interesting area over a pre-determined route that can be done with your friends, with your family, with your dogs or simply done by yourself. You may participate as often or as seldom as your schedule allows. Walks are non-competitive and participants proceed at their own pace. Bring the whole family and a few friends, or if you’d like some new friends you’re sure to meet them at our events. Many events are suitable for those in wheelchairs or strollers. Check the descriptions in the brochures or web site links for the events you’re interested in. Dogs are welcomed on many trails as long as they’re kept on a leash and you clean-up behind them.

Everyone is a winner at FHW and other AVA events. Meet friends, walk scenic trails and improve your physical and mental health with our natural, accessible, and low-stress activities. FHW is one of about 300 AVA clubs nationwide with over 3,000 non-competitive events per year in all 50 states. Events take place on pre-marked trails with checkpoints located along the route to ensure your safety. Designated start points are open for several hours to allow you to enjoy your journey at your own pace. Walking with FHW is your passport to adventure in parks, historic places, natural areas and neighborhoods. While the greatest reward for exercise is good health and fitness, the FHW offers a unique way to record your adventures through an international awards program. Our club and other AVV and IVV clubs offer special awards such as medals, patches and other mementos, that commemorate your participation in events and distance completed. Join us and discover why everyone is a winner at FHW events.

Why do we walk? Volkssporting is a great way to exercise with family, friends and other like-minded people (or to exercise in solitude if desired), and see new and exciting parts of Maryland you may never have known existed. If you need more reasons, check out these lists: Click for first list Click for second list

Once you've located a volkssport event you're interested in through the internet, newspaper, or by attending another volkssport event, simply show up at the event location and you're on your way to an exciting volkssport adventure. Click on these links to find out what to expect: Scheduled event or Year-Round Event.

We meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month at the Faith Ministry Center, 9050 Baltimore Street, Savage MD.  The General Club Meetings begin at 7:30 PM (some arrive around 7:15 PM to socialize). Meetings are postponed when Howard County schools are closed for inclement weather.

Click here to download our most recent newsletter


Click to hear "The Happy Wanderer" sung in English

....................................................gesungen in Deutsch

German and English Lyrics for "The Happy Wanderer"

Club Contacts

Club Officers:
Office Person Phone Email
President Bob Wolfe 301-879-6898 Rwwolfe61@comcast.net
Vice-President Tom Mosely 301-367-3654 Themose7999@comcast.net
Treasurer Sue Barna 410-960-7450 sebarna@verizon.net
Secretary Linda Hassell 410-437-2164 wahasse1798@verizon.net

Other Club Functions:
Responsibility Person Phone Email
Membership, Renewal & New Linda Hassell 410-437-2164 wahasse1798@verizon.net
Newsletter Phill Wilder 301-717-3604 kindfellow1@gmail.com
Brochures Bev DiMenna 443-463-5513 Bjdimenna@verizon.net
Website Darrell Neily 301-937-9659 dneily333@gmail.com
Events Phill Wilder 301-717-3604 kindfellow1@gmail.com
Publicity Linda Hassell 410-437-2164 wahasse1798@verizon.net
Specialty Sales Joyce Conway 301-572-5574 donjoy5@comcast.net
501(c)(3) Donations Joyce Conway 301-572-5574 donjoy5@comcast.net

"Walking will get us where we want to be!"

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