Freedom Luxembourg was born to provide options at a time when there weren’t many. So we are all about freedom and choices. The more the better. You are encouraged to organise whatever you like the way you like it. Your event, your rules.
What follows applies mostly to events, primarily hikes, organised by me (Ed). Other organisers may have different criteria. Other organisers may also be more consistent with the types of events they propose and therefore there could be less confusion. As for me, I like variety, which, understandably, may sometimes disorient some participants.
Which is why I figured that these guidelines might be useful, namely for newcomers. This is not meant to discourage anyone from participating in the activities proposed within the group. On the contrary, it is intended to raise awareness in order to ensure that everyone will enjoy them to the full.
From now onwards, I will try to be a bit more explicitly descriptive regarding the type of activity proposed on a given date. But, ultimately, it is going to be up to you to read the description carefully and to evaluate whether or not it is something you should be able to do and enjoy.
- WE DON’T ORGANISE, WE PROPOSE. We are not a tourist agency. Not even a club or society. This works more like a group of friends. Somebody may propose something and say, “hey, I am going to do this, would you like to join me?”. Therefore, the “organiser” is not responsible for anything that may happen to you during the course of the event. You are responsible for whatever you do, including arranging your own insurance. Likewise, we cannot evaluate your suitability to participate in any given event. It is up to you to do it. We work on a self-evaluation, self-responsibility and self-discipline basis.
- OVERLAPPING? NOT A PROBLEM. I personally don’t care if someone organises an event that overlaps with one of mine. The more the merrier.
- BE KIND AND RESPECTFUL. Working in a group requires a certain degree of adaptation and compromise. You might prefer going about things in a certain way, but you are not alone. So respect other people’s choices. Namely those of the “organiser”. Again, if you wish to do things your way, become an organiser. Be empathic and considerate with those who may be having a hard time. Systematic lack of respect towards others won’t be tolerated. We aim at creating a space of psychological safety where everyone can feel comfortable enough.
- BE CONSIDERATE. If you cannot make it, cancel the reservation as soon as possible. If it is a last minute cancellation, dropping a line to the organiser would also be very kind of you. This is specially important when not doing so may prevent others from participating. For instance, on events with a limited number of places or for the carpooling. Likewise, try to be on time. If you can’t, report as soon as possible a realistic estimation of your arrival time.
- DO NOT COMPLAIN. Please, refrain from spoiling other people’s experience. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but constant whining over the whole duration of the event doesn’t help anyone and ends up being extremely annoying for everyone. As stated earlier, everybody is encouraged to become an organiser. Then you can do things your way.
- LEARN TO ENJOY YOURSELF. No matter what. Some activities may end up being challenging. You may suffer. Not everything may be of your liking. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. So what? Once we are there, let’s try to make the best out of it. Later on you can decide whether or not you want to participate in other similar activities.
- SELF-EVALUATE. Are you physically and mentally suitable to participate in a given activity? Do you have the required physical condition? Are you resilient enough? Will you be able to cope with the situation should something unexpected happen? Are you going to be able to enjoy yourself? Really? Please, be realistic.
SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR THE HIKES ORGANISED BY ME
My hikes are very diverse. Some may be easy and even family-friendly (yes, believe it or not, we have had families with children) others can be tough and demanding. And everything in between. So you may wish to ponder carefully if that particular hike you are considering joining is adequate for you. Some aspects to consider:
- WE WAIT. Some people like to go faster whereas others walk more slowly. That’s fine. We typically wait and regroup at every intersection. If you hate waiting, that’s your problem, but keep in mind that no one is interested in hearing you complaining about it. We just don’t leave people behind in the middle of the forest. Get over it. Worst case scenario, we’ll drop them at the nearest bus stop. Likewise, if you get lost, we won’t stop until we find you. I have run many kilometres to find lost hikers. If you are facing difficulties, DO YOUR BEST and do not despair.
- LENGTH. My hikes are typically longer than the average of those proposed by other Meetup groups in the Luxembourg region. These days we are doing around 20 km per day. But we have been known to do 30 or more. People not used to walk these distances may end up suffering and not enjoying themselves during the last kilometres. If that’s the case, you need to learn to be alright with that. Use our hikes to build up your resilience. Humans are evolutionary designed to walk and run long distances. So, typically, everyone makes it. That said, if you are not used to walk, it is probably best if you start with shorter hikes or if you otherwise train yourself a bit prior to joining a longer one.
- SPEED. We are NOT the fastest hikers in the region. That’s not our purpose. But if we are not able to keep a reasonable pace, the hikes end up feeling endless and people get tired of waiting or of being painfully slow. So we need to find a compromise. It has been estimated that 4.65 km/hour is a comfortable pace for a 65-year-old lady on a flat even surface. This means you should be able to walk 10 km in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes. Test yourself. If you are not able to do that, please, train until you are.
- ELEVATION GAIN. Whereas it is true that there are no mountains in this region, it is actually pretty hilly. On an average 20 km hike we can climb the equivalent of five or more floors a number of times (say, anywhere from two to seven times). If you are not able to do that without ending absolutely breathless, then train yourself until you are. Refraining from taking the lift at home and/or work may be sufficient in many cases.
- INCERTITUDE. Many things can happen during a hike. For instance, somebody may twist an ankle or a wrist. We need to be psychologically prepared to deal with those sorts of situations without despairing or complaining. Yes, the activity may be ruined. So what? What is more important? To me what is more important is that everyone returns home safely. We need to be prepared to deal with incertitude. If you are not comfortable with that, stay home. We have found ourselves in situations where a bridge had been washed away by the floods and we had to do a few extra kilometres until the next one or in situations where we were not able to wade a river across any of three designated spots. Rather often, paths that go across private property are (illegally) blocked and we need to improvise. In such situations, mutual trust and a constructive attitude may be the key to finding a more or less satisfactory solution. Typically the expected arrival time is based on an average speed of 4 km/h all going well. However, if we say 15:30 and you have a funeral at 17:00, I’m sorry, we cannot guarantee you are going to make it on time.
- EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY. That’s what I personally enjoy the most. Both referring to the places and to the people. So if there is anything interesting, I like to take the time to explore it. May it be a flower, a cave, a beautiful view. I cannot help myself (within reason). To me, it is never about walking fast from point A to point B. If this exploration of the surroundings or an eventual detour makes us arrive half an hour behind schedule, too bad. It is precisely the exploration and the discovery what makes the hike interesting and worthy for me. For the physical exercise, I can just go and run alone.
- THE ADVENTURE. My hikes tend to be a bit adventurous. The reason is that they are not your typical trails with codes and signposts. They may greatly overlap with some of those but, more often than not, we also take some unmarked paths we have never explored before. This adds to the aforementioned incertitude, as some of those unmarked paths may have not been used by humans in a while and may be covered by vegetation or may even not be visible at all. Quite often, we end up going cross-country at some point. This makes the hikes absolutely unique, but, at the same time, I understand that not everybody is comfortable with that. Should you decide to come anyway, you will need to be OK with this sort of unexpected situations. You will need to be a bit adventurous, otherwise, I am afraid you are not going to enjoy yourself very much.