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The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT)

Norway's largest outdoor life organization.

Rondane. Foto: Hilde L. Magnussen
Rondane. Foto: Hilde L. Magnussen
When 19th century Norwegian banker and philanthropist Thomas Heftye called a meeting at his office, the agenda was "the suitability of founding a trekking association," as described by poet and writer Aasmund O. Vinje in 1866 in the Dølen newspaper. Two years thereafter, Den Norske Turistforening (DNT) - the Norwegian Trekking Association - was founded. DNTs mandate was in part to "acquire means to ease and develop outdoor life here in this country". 223 members joined at the founding meeting.

Today, DNT is Norway's largest outdoor life organization, with more than 240,000 members in 57 some local member organisations across the country, from Kristiansand in the south to the North Cape in the north. DNT Oslo og Omegn ("Oslo and surroundings") is the largest member association and is a direct continuation of the original DNT of 1868. In the late 1880s, trekking associations were founded in principal cities including Trondheim, Stavanger, Skien, Kristiansand and Drammen.

DNT aims to promote straightforward, active, versatile and environmentally-friendly outdoor activities and to preserve the outdoors and the cultural landscape.

Cabins, trails and routes

The local member associations operate cabins, mark routes and ski tracks and arrange trips and courses. Together they maintain a network of about 20,000 km of marked foot trails and about 7000 km of branch-marked ski tracks. DNT activities are based on extensive volunteer work. Each year, volunteers together work more than 175,000 hours.

Tours, courses and activities

DNT’s member associations specialize in tours. Accordingly, they train and qualify leaders for both summer and winter tours. Each year, more than 4000 tours, courses and other activities draw more than 100,000 participants. DNT leads the country in offering mountain sports and adventure activities and each year arranges courses in mountaineering and glacier hiking.

Children's Trekking Club

In 1999, DNT founded the Children's Trekking Club to draw children to outdoor activities early in life. Today the Club has more than 16,000 members, 12 years old and younger. Almost all DNT member associations have Children's Trekking Club activities tat vary from day hikes, overnight hikes, lean-to hikes, ice fishing, climbing, moonlight tours, ghost tours, grandparents' tours, coast camps to family base camps and much more. Activities are arranged nearby, along the coast and in the mountains. DNT suggests that children learn the joy of the outdoors together with adults, and the member associations also arrange trips for older children without their adult family members. Children who join the Children's Trekking Club have their own membership cards and regularly are sent information from the local associations on tours and activities. The Club mascot is Turbo Arctic Fox, a happy chap always trekking the mountains together with his girlfriend, Turid Field Mouse.

DNT Youth

The number of young people trekking and joining DNT is on the upswing. In 2004, the membership of DNT Youth passed 18,000 to become the country's largest organization of its sort. DNT Youth is for people 13 - 26 years old. There are two member categories, school age (13-18) and youth/student (19-26). Common for both categories are low membership prices and half-price lodgings at cabins (2005). DNT arranges many absorbing activities for youth. Several times a year, Base Camp is held and includes activities such as mountain climbing, rafting and glacier hiking that expand the attraction and challenge of traditional mountain trekking. The Base Camps are tent camps, and the joint activities of preparing meals and planning tours make strong bonds. Suggestions for tours and information on arranged tours are available online at www.dnt-ung.no with the details of twenty some local groups of DNT Youth.

DNT Mountain Sports

DNT Mountain Sports is one of the country's leaders in holding mountain climbing and glacier hiking courses. The local Mountain Sports groups in the DNT member associations offer a wide range of courses in glacier hiking and climbing as well as training in other activities requiring special skills. DNT Mountain Sports also brings together those who seek challenge beyond traditional cabin-to-cabin trekking. Visit www.dntfjellsport.no for updated information and tour offers.

DNT and social responsibility

DNT works to benefit outdoor activities. For nearly a hundred years, DNT has been involved in conservation in Norway. DNT believes that everyone should have access to unlimited experience in the outdoors. This right is ensured by the Public Right of Access, which is a cornerstone of DNT's values.

Outdoor activities deserve a key place in Norwegian conservation, and DNT co-operates with other voluntary organizations to counter the pressures put on and threats to outdoor areas. DNT believes that the effort to protect areas against development and disruption is vital. DNT lobbies for strict regulation of motorized transport in the wilderness, because it damages landscape and threatens the values of the outdoor experience. At the same time, DNT acknowledges the challenge of supporting local business development that aids outdoor activities and the outdoors, as living mountains need viable villages.

DNT aims to give more children and youth a solid foundation for lifetime appreciation of outdoor life. It works to promote outdoor life in schools and pre-schools as well to focus on the health benefits of outdoor activities in the years to come.