"You hold an event and we turn up"
"You hold an event and we turn up"


A History by Paul Lamb

Chapter 1: The Beginning, Adventure 0 - Nashville

Ron Hamner holds the claim to being the Father of this organization, whether he wants to admit it or not. But there were several "fathers" and "mothers" who helped this unusual Club get going.

It all started because of one of those rare conditions: a weekend with no event within the Atlantic Region. A brand new Nashville, TN, club was offering its first event that weekend. Ron collected fourteen people into two vans to go on this "adventure," driving down to Nashville to do that club's walk. As planning developed, a visit to the Grand Old Opry was included as part of this two day, fourteen hundred mile trip. We left the South Parking lot of the Pentagon on Friday evening, August 9th, 1991, seven people packed into each of the two vans (and packed is the operative word). Ron Hamner was principal driver of one van with Sherri McNeil, Mary Lou Benzel, Sandi Cahill, Linda Bekemeier, Laurel Carlson, and Amy Fowler as passengers. Paul Lamb was principal driver of the other van with Nelson Cahill, Ken Wilson, Jim Pullum, Mary Seidl, Wendy Swanson, and Diane Harker as passengers. We drove all night and arrived early Saturday morning in Nashville and at the walk. All fourteen van riders walked the event, some did it twice, and all encouraged the new Nashville club's efforts. (It was event SE91/102.) Then it was off to the motel for a nap, then dinner and the Grand Old Opry show. During the show Roy Acoff introduced an up and coming young star named Garth Brooks; and we learned more than enough about Little Debbie cakes. Back to the motel for more rest for most, a night on the town for one [Sherri McNeil by name].

It was on the trip home on Sunday that the harem van (Ron driving) went wild and produced the concept of The Bad Pennies. Some post travel discussion in the parking lot and the idea only required being committed to action and paper to become a reality. Some of the ideas that were being bounced around the harem van, at least the printable ones, for this travel group were "Simple. Any time, any place, wherever there is an event," "If there's an event, we're likely to turn up," "Just like a bad penny," "Bad Pennies!" "You never know where you will find one,"

"It takes a bunch to have fun," "They're all cheap!" Before the week was out, the Application for a New Club and the sanction requests for the first TWO events were in the hands of our Regional Director, Mary Lou Benzel, and being processed (it didn't hurt that the Regional Director had been in the harem van).

The Charter says we became club number 725 on the 19th day of August in the year 1991; we all know that we became a club tendays earlier when the vans first left the parking lot of thePentagon.

The Club's bank account was established at the Second National Bank; it just seemed appropriate that our unusual Club would bank at an unusual Bank.

Approximately thirty people from the Atlantic Region had attended the Nashville event; all were offered the opportunity to become "charter" members of The Bad Pennies. And the Nashville trip became known as Adventure 0 (zero) as it occurred before the club officially existed.

It took a while for the club to settle into the slogan of "you hold an event and we turn up" ... just like a bad penny. It took longer to come up with the club emblem, a representation of the obverse side of a penny showing the Lincoln Memorial. If you look carefully, you can see the back side of Lincoln's head. This emblem came from the folklore that a penny found on the ground face up is good luck; thus, a penny found face down must be ... a bad penny, of course.

That parking lot meeting also produced the club's "official" meeting schedule as the fifty Friday of the month at one minutepast midnight in Aisle 6 of the South parking lot of the Pentagon. As far as I know, we never had an "official" meeting under these conditions. But it fit the style of the club. There was a conscious decision to have as little "organization" as possible. So, for the first year plus, there was no such thing as articles of organization or bylaws. Those rules that were needed were developed at the time of the need, but never recorded in the nature of permanent rules.

Chapter 2 - Adventure 1 - Northeast Six; Events 1 and 2, Connecticut and Rhode Island

With the Application for a New Club, we submitted sanction requests for the first two events of this new club. It had been decided in that parking lot meeting that our next adventure should be over the Columbus Day three-day weekend and include the six New England States. At that time there were no Year Round Events in Rhode Island and Connecticut, no club in Rhode Island, and only a small club in Connecticut. Thus, to provide for all six New England states, The Bad Pennies would have to hold an event in Rhode Island and an event in Connecticut.

Not everyone understands the process involved in having an event sanctioned, particularly if the event is in a Region other than your own. Our sanction requests had to be approved by our Atlantic Region Director, Mary Lou Benzel, and, in this case, the Northeast Region Director, Bill Jenkins.

Back to the events. There is a park which straddles the  border between Rhode Island and Connecticut with a bridge crossing from one State to the other. The park is known as thePulaski Memorial State Park on the Rhode Island side and The Quaddick State Forest on the Connecticut side. The bridge became the start point for each event, one State event started at oneend of the bridge and the other State event at the other end. These events set the pattern of The Bad Pennies away from home events: a start point staffed by one person and self service control points, truly a one person show.

Our Trailmaster (designate, there being no official appointment) was Paul Lamb. On September 13th (Friday), Paul took a late flight up to Providence, Rhode Island, rented a car and headed in the direction of the park, looking for a place to spend the night. One of the problems with being from the Washington, DC, area is that you expect the rest of the country to be like here. Paul figured that there would be at least one motel at the exit off the beltway around Providence which he needed to take to get to the park; not so in Rhode Island. And he wound up driving several miles before he found the first one, a small (9 unit) motel. The next day and a half, Paul spent wheeling the woods in and around the pond and the bridge, trying to find a reasonable route for these two walks.

The club agreed that we did not intend to be one of those tour groups, with a so called start-and-run find-us-if-you-can start point. So these two events were set up with a five hour start period.

An advance trail team of three people [Sandi Cahill, Ken Wilson, and Trailmaster Paul Lamb] traveled up on Friday, October llth, 1991, to mark the trails in the rain and into the night, and to be on hand at the announced beginning of the start period. Adventure 1, tagged as the "Northeast Six" adventure, started when the three vans, seventeen adventurists, left the Pentagon parking lot Friday evening to drive all night and arrive at the club's events on Saturday morning. After walking and working the club's events, these vans, now including two of the advance trail team [Sandi and Ken], headed off to Massachusetts to provide the opportunity to walk in the other four New England States.

The last participant on the Connecticut trail was a young lady who had flown into the area to partake in a "tour groups" walk in Connecticut. She had arrived at the designated start point too late, the "hit-and-run" had already occurred. Someone there remembered seeing our events advertised and provided her directions. She arrived at our start point about two in the afternoon, well after the advertised start window of 8 am to 1 pm. We let her walk with the trail sweep; and she got her Connecticut State stamp.

The two events were successful. We had 67 participants from Rhode Island (63 credit, 4 free; 1991 USA 13034) and 59 participants for Connecticut (56 credit and 3 free; 1991 USA 13035). The Club records show a NET of $77.64 for the two events.

As was expected, the adventure lost money; the NET for Adventure is carried as a MINUS $68.95. The accounting technique used by the Treasurer was that any income or expense which directly related to the events and that would have been incurred if the event had been in our backyard was accounted for in the event account.

The Adventurers paid for all the direct costs of the adventure itself, the vans, gasoline, rooms, meals, plus an "Adventure Fee" which was designed to help offset the other costs of the adventure. In this case, the cost of establishing the two walks including the Trailmaster's trip to the area to set up the trails. It was understood that the Club would be subsidizing the adventures, at least for a while.

Chapter 3 - We Actually Have a Meeting

The real first meeting of The Bad Pennies was held Saturday evening, November 30th, 1991, at the (compri) Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in association with the Hershey walks. [The meeting room was provided at no charge.] Ron Hamner, our organizing President, stated that he could not continue as he was slated to become the President of the Virginia Volkssport Association. The incumbents of the other three positions: Linda Bekermeier, Vice-President; Sandi Cahill, Secretary; and Paul Lamb, Treasurer, were elected for the following year. It was determined that the position of President could not be filled at this meeting, so Linda became the acting President. We never did get a President; Linda "acted" for the whole term. In January, 1992, the Club purchased an IVV Banner.

Chapter 4 - Adventure 2 - Going South; Events 3 & 4, South Carolina and Alabama

Adventure 2, tagged as the "Going South" adventure, was set for the Presidents Day three-day weekend; it would be heading south to find better weather. Walks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; somewhere in South Carolina; Roswell, Georgia; and Cheaha State Park, Alabama, were the plan. Once again, South Carolina did not have a Year Round Event and the club, located in Greenville, South Carolina, was not interested in putting on an event to match our schedule. But they had no objection to The Bad Pennies holding an event. So in went the sanction request, via our Regional Director and the Southeast Region Director, Duncan Brantly.

With the approval came the information that the Year Round Event in Alabama was not being renewed and would not be there when we came. So, an emergency sanction request was processed so that The Bad Pennies could hold an event in Alabama.

This adventure became expensive when the word of no Year Round Event in Alabama was received; our Trailmaster had already flown down to check out Greenville, South Carolina, and this required another trip to check out an Alabama trail.

The club's third event was held on Saturday, February 15th, 1992, in Greenville, South Carolina, and the fourth event was held on Sunday, February 16th, in Cheaha State Park, Alabama.  The official adventure party arrived in two vans, but several club members attended one or both events on their own. [The advance party for South Carolina was: Jim and Nancy Geith, and Trailmaster Paul Lamb. Advance party for Alabama: just Paul Lamb.] [In the vans were Matt Pernick, William Harris, Paul Redmer, Pat Astill, Yvonne Astill, Sandi Cahill, Carl Cordes, Jackie Spangler, Judy Floy, and Ingrid Rockett.]

The events made money; we had 34 participants in the steady light rain at South Carolina (1992 USA 1356) and 48 participants in the sun at Alabama (1992 USA 1387). The books show that the two events netted $23.08.

The adventure resulted in a loss of $286.92 due to the significance expense of two trips to establish the trails, an
expense which the Club accepted for this adventure but looked for ways to eliminate from future adventures.

Chapter 5 - Helping a New Club - Event 5

There was an interest in forming a club in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. The Bad Pennies' fifth sanction request was for the initial event of this new club, the West Penn Club. A van load of The Bad Pennies members drove up to help get this Saturday, May 2, 1992, event started out right, along with a handful of other club members who just "happened" to be in the neighborhood. It was sanctioned by us as AT92/141. Listed as The Bad Pennies members in attendance were: Sandi Cahill, Paul Lamb, Nelson Cahill, Ken Wilson, Madeline Chavis, Mary Lou Benzel, Lynette Reagan, Nancy McCabe, and friends: Steve Arnett, John Ehmer.

Chapter 6 - Adventure 3 - Holy Toledo; Event 6, Michigan

The plans for Adventure 3 for the 1992 Memorial Day three-day weekend (May 23-25) were being developed. The Year Round Events at Maumee (Toledo), Ohio; Muncie, Indiana; and Covington, Kentucky, made a workable travel route. Now, if we could work in Michigan, it would be a great adventure. Nothing to do but to hold a club event in Monroe, Michigan, just across the State line from Toledo. And we had the club's sixth event and Adventure 3. tagged the "Holy Toledo" adventure. The sanction request went through our Region Director and the Mid-America Region Director Elaine Holobough; it got lost and some emergency action was required to get this event made official.

Our Trailmaster drove up to check out the area and establish a trail; by driving, the cost of the adventure was significantly reduced. [Advance trail party: Yvonne Astill, Jan Roberson, and Trailmaster Paul Lamb.] Three vans of adventurists plus a few camp followers participated. [Adventure Coordinator: Judy Floy.] We had 61 participants (53 credit, 8 free; 1992 USA 3044) at our Michigan event, and it made $20.25. The adventure showed a plus of $147.70 to the Club's bank account.

Judy Floy made a significant contribution to the Club by putting together the "Interim Procedures for Setting Up Trips for The Bad Pennies," the first set of guidelines set down on paper for the Club's operation, at least for the adventures.

Chapter 7 - We're In the Papers

The American Wanderer - May-June, 1992 (page 19) The Bad Pennies are on a roll When a Club has the name "The Bad Pennies" a slogan that goes "you hold an event and we turn up" you just know that this is a fun group. The Club is organized on the basis that not only is participating in volkssport events suppose to be fun, getting together to go to and from the events should be part of the adventure of volkssporting.

And "adventure" is the key word in the operation of this Club. The Club was "minted" in the back seat of one of the two vans filled with volksmarchers who had just had an "adventure." Here's the story.

Six o'clock Friday night, August 9, fourteen people piled into two vans in the parking lot of the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., for a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, and the Nashville Volkssport Club's first walk. We arrived Saturday morning, participated in the event, discovered another dozen or so Atlantic Region walkers were there, took in the Grand Old Opry, a few minutes of sleep, and the trip back. Arriving at the Pentagon about 6 p.m. on Sunday, the concept of The Bad Pennies Club had been "coined". Something had to come out of a 48-hour 1,500 mile trip to attend ONE volksmarch. The Club was chartered on August 19, a short 10 days after the beginning of what we call Adventure #O. And we started to roll.

Plans for Adventure #1, to cover the six New England states over the Columbus Day holiday weekend were started; plans which included the Club's first and second events, walks in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Nineteen people started out on Friday night, October 11, traveled in three vans from the Pentagon parking lot to the Club's events, then on to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont and back to the Pentagon Monday evening. More than 30 other volksmarchers enjoyed the two walks from a single start point that the Club sponsored, set-up, and operated.

When you consider that we held our first two events less than two months after we were chartered and in a location 400 miles from home, having 67 participants in Rhode Island and 59 in Connecticut is not a bad start. Lots of people helped get us started; particularly our Regional Director Mary Lou Benzel (who participated in both Adventures) and Northeast Regional Director Bill Jenkins (who took part in our events).

The Bad Pennies are on a roll; where's the next stop? Adventure #2 included the states of North Carolina with one of the year-round events in Winston-Salem; South Carolina with a TBP Club event at Greenville; Georgia with the year-round event at Roswell and Alabama with a TBP Club event at Cheaha State Park. This happened over the President's Day holiday weekend, February 15-17. Our thanks to Duncan Brantley, Southeast Regional Director, for his help and attendance at the two The Bad Pennies events.

Where to next? Well, The Bad Pennies are helping get a Club started in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and worked the first event there on May 2nd.

Then there is Adventure #3 which will cover Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Set for the Memorial Day weekend, this adventure will use year round events at Muncie, IN; Dayton, OH; and Covington, KY. And we are working with the Maumee Valley Volkssporters in Toledo, Ohio, for an event in Monroe, Michigan. As with all events sponsored by The Bad Pennies, the event at Monroe will operate as a standard volksmarch: start time is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., finish by 4 p.m. This will be a credit only event but "B" awards from the Toledo Club will be available.

Our future plans include an event in the Washington, D.C., area (with an "A" award). And Adventure #4 will take us to Niagara Falls in October.

So the next time you hold an event, look out: The Bad Pennies just might turn up.

The June, 1992, issue of the Peninsula Pathfinder's newsletter carried the following article:

THE BAD PENNIES KEEP ROLLIN' AND STROLLIN': Did you read the article about the "Bad Pennies" Volksmarching Club in the last issue of the WANDERER? Sounded like a neat Club. Well our very own Jim and Nancy Geith are also members of that very same Club and they participated in the Clubs 4th 'adventure'. The Geiths, along with our esteemed Club Vice President, Jan Roberson, drove up to Washington DC on May 22 where they met up with 20 other equally wobbly pennies (I mean club members). Then they drove to Maumee, Ohio (that's almost as neat a sounding name as Paduka Ky) where they walked Saturday morning, then on to Monroe, Michigan for a Saturday afternoon walk (that's two states). They stayed overnight in Ft Wayne, Indiana so they could walk in Muncie, Indiana Sunday morning (three states), next it was off to Covenington, KY for the fourth walk - fourth state. Then finally back to the Pentagon parking lot and then home to Hampton. What a great weekend - would you like to go on the next "adventure"? Talk to Jim and Nancy - they'll convince you it's the only way to roll (along by car) and stroll (on foot). [This is exactly how it appeared, spelling, punctuation, and all.]

Chapter 8 - Event 7 at Fairlakes, Virginia

The club had been started on a loan and it seemed to the officers and members that our debt should be eliminated. The best way to do that was to hold an event in the northern Virginia area, the home area of the club.

So, August 1st and 2nd, 1992, found most of the club members working an event held in the Fair Lakes development off of Interstate 66 just outside [west] of the City of Fairfax, Virginia.

This two-day, rather standard event, did include its own mini-adventure. Two of our female participants arrived at the finish table carrying a dainty pair of black lace panties which they, reportedly, found on the trail.

This was the club's seventh event, the first that was held in our home area, and was the club's first with an "A" award. The circular hat pin depicted the backside of the Lincoln Memorial [of course] set beside one of the lakes of Fair Lakes, the lake with the fountains.

Over fifty percent of the Club members provided their time as workers at this event.

The event was successful with 498 participants (151 took the "A"-award, 271 were credit only, and 76 walked free) and the club was able to become debt free. The books show a NET of $471.82. In addition, the club made a significant donation ($350.00) to the National Headquarters. We were informed by David Stewart, Executive Director, that our donation was used to help furnish his office; and that our help was recognized on a plaque in that room.

Sandi Cahill evaluated the start cards from the event and found the following:

  • Category Free Credit Award Total only
  • Live within 5 miles of start 15 23 19 57
  • Live 5 to 20 miles away 43 140 72 255
  • Live 20 to 50 miles away 9 50 20 79
  • Live 50 to 100 miles away 6 44 24 74
  • Live more than 100 miles away 3 14 16 33

By the end of this first year, The Bad Pennies had held or sponsored seven events, five located more than four hundred miles from the club's home; coordinated four adventures (counting Adventure 0); and provided a new element of volkssport fun to the sport.

Chapter 9 - Adventure 4 - To the Falls

The Niagara Frontier Volkssport Club had plans for two one- day events over the Columbus Day, 1992, weekend. These plus the Year Round Event at the falls formed the basis for Adventure 4, tagged the "To the Falls" adventure. As the plans developed, there was a van-load of adventurists who wanted to and could leave earlier in the week and travel to the Niagara Falls area vis Ottawa, Canada; there were at that time five Year Round Events in the Ottawa area.

So Adventure 4 became two adventures: the long-trip van adventure which left the Washington, DC, area on Wednesday, October 7th, made stops at a couple of New York Year Round Events, included all five Year Round Events in the Ottawa area, participated in the two club events and the Year Round Event at the falls, and managed to get another walk in [at West Point] on the way home. The short-trip van left Friday morning, October 9th, and took in the three events at the falls. Each van carried six adventurists. [Long-Trip: Ken Wilson, Sandi Cahill, Mary Horner, Shirley Ponse, Nelson Cahill, and Paul Lamb. Short-trip: Ron and Fran Looper, Diane Harker, Madeline Chavis, Mary Seidel, Judy Floy.][Adventure Coordinator: Linda Bekermeier, who didn't get to go because of her work schedule.]

This adventure added to the Club's checking account the amount of $268.02.

Chapter 10 - Another Meeting
The Financial Statement of November 14, 1992, showed a Checking Account Balance of $1,154.77 with NO DEBT. November 22, 1992, the club held its annual meeting in association with the Seneca Valley Club's event at Glen Echo. We met at the end of the room used for the start/finish; and we elected officers. Linda Bekermeier was very pleased to past the baton to Matt Pernick as President and Paul Redmer as Vice- President. Sandi Cahill remained as Secretary and Paul Lamb continued as Treasurer.

Articles of Organization for The Bad Pennies were written and signed on January 1, 1993; this was to allow the Club to come under the IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt, not for profit, umbrella. This was only the second piece of paper giving any appearance of the Club having some organization.

Chapter 11 - Adventure 5 - All 'Round VA

The February, 1993, adventure, Adventure 5, tagged the "All 'Round VA" adventure, was planned to cover the six Year Round Events in the Tidewater area of Virginia, specifically the walks at Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Yorktown (both the short and the long trails), Jamestown, and Williamsburg. The van load of seven adventurists [Ken Wilson, Carl Cordes, Matt Pernick, Paul Redmer, Judy Floy, Sandi Cahill, Paul Lamb] not only had the opportunity to participate in these six events, one did the Williamsburg Volksswim [Judy Floy], and all enjoyed a play by the Williamsburg Players [Don't Shoot the Tenor(?)] as part of this adventure. [Adventure Coordinator: Paul Lamb.]


This adventure added to the Club's bank balance $46.05.

Chapter 12 - Event 8 at Fairlakes, Virginia

The club officers decided it would be useful to have a treasury large enough for the club to finance the adventures, and that another event in the northern Virginia area would be appropriate. So, August 7th and 8th, 1993, found the club members staffing another event in the Fair Lakes development. This event, the club's eight, was the second with an "A" award. This time the circular hat pin depicted the backside of the Lincoln Memorial [of course] nestled in the trees which are plentiful in Fair Lakes.

The event [1993 USA 2285] was successful, with 399 participants (106 purchased the "A"-award, 7 took a "B"-award, 213 walked for credit only and 73 walked for free), and provided the club with the funds to support another venture, the banquet. [The Treasurer's report indicates a NET of $488.23.]

Chapter 13 - The Banquet

The banquet was set for Saturday, August 7, 1993, at 6 pm, following the Volksmarch at Fair Lakes. Paul Lamb had arranged for the AFCEA meeting room which was only a couple of blocks from the Start/Finish point of the walk. The catered menu was: German and Italian Sausages, Brotchen, Sauerkraut, Potato, vegetable, and pasta salads, Homemade applesauce, Chocolate Cake and Carrot Cake. There was enough food to serve far more than the few who attended.

Paul Lamb takes the blame for the idea of a volkssport banquet, an opportunity for the volkssport community of the Washington, DC, area to get together for fellowship over a catered buffet. The banquet did not get the publicity needed to attract enough people to break even. The few who attended enjoyed the company and the food, but the idea was a bust. Oh, well. [The Treasurer's report indicates a LOSS of $204.00.]

Chapter 14 - Adventure 6 - Atlantic City or Bust

It had been in the minds of several members that there should be a way to walk the boardwalk in Atlantic City. In discussions with the New Jersey club, a way to do it was devised and that event became the center-piece of Adventure 6, tagged the "Atlantic City or Bust" adventure. The Bad Pennies would help the Garden State Happy Wanderers by using the vans to shuttle people from one point on the boardwalk to the finish table at this Sunday, October 10th, 1993, event. Adding in events in Baltimore, Maryland; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and the Year Round Events at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; and Dover, Delaware, made for a typical The Bad Pennies adventure. Some on the road adjustments eliminated the trip to Dover on the way home, but all in the group had an enjoyable time.

Financially, this adventure cost the Club $2.09.

Chapter 15 - Annual Meeting

November, 1993, was annual meeting and elections time for The Bad Pennies. Matt Pernick was re-elected as President, and Jackie Spangler was elected Vice-President. The positions of Secretary and Treasurer became appointed offices. Sandi Cahill continued as Secretary and Paul Lamb, our Treasurer from the beginning, turned the books over to the new Treasurer, Mary Horner.

Chapter 16 - Adventure 7 - Walkin' Route 81

The Club's Adventure 7, tagged the "Walkin' Route 81" adventure, included a visit all the new Year Round Events along Interstate 81 in Virginia over the Presidents Day weekend in 1994. [Adventure Coordinator: Carl Cordes.]

Adventure 8, tagged just "Europe," was a fourteen day, nine country trip to Europe in October, 1994. [Adventure Coordinator: Matt Pernick.]

Contact Us Today!

The Bad Pennies

PO Box 2393
Merrifield, VA 22116-2393

Phone: (703) 980-0392

E-mail: matt@thebadpennies.org
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