A Village Tradition

They meet bright and early. Before their neighbors are out of bed, the Boot Campers are in the park, starting their day with a workout, just like they’ve done for the last 10 years.

It all started in 2012, when a community workout group formed in the Village of Woodbridge. After the trainer left, a few neighbors decided to continue their morning workout tradition on their own. They learned how to run the exercises themselves, adding portable equipment and new exercise apps to keep things fresh. A rare rainstorm keeps them home, but they meet year-round, even when dark and chilly mornings require a lantern.

Nancy West was there at the very beginning.

“Even after all these years, it’s still my favorite way to start the day,” West says. “I love being outdoors, watching the sunrise and working out with friends.”

The routine hasn’t changed much. A collection of beach cruiser bikes brings them to their workout. They use colorful beach towels instead of gym mats. Neighborhood chat is shared between reps.

“We love hearing about everyone’s weekend plans and travels,” West says. “We talk about our favorite books, movies and recipes.”

Over the years, the group has shared weddings, new grandbabies, and now retirement celebrations. Every once in a while they are joined by a visiting grandchild or a student who is home from college. They celebrate birthdays and gather for an annual Christmas party breakfast, where they exchange Secret Boot Camper gifts.

Patty Knutson believes that her Boot Camp bond is what makes her lace up her shoes early in the morning.

“Even when you feel like staying in bed a little longer, you know that everyone else is getting out there, and you don’t want to miss out. It makes you accountable.”

They all agree that easy access to their Woodbridge neighborhood park is part of the reason that their workout routine has stayed strong all these years.

“We see lots of ‘regulars’ out walking or jogging on the trails,” West says. “There’s definitely an early-morning routine around the community.”

Ultimately, Knutson feels the relationship formed between the Boot Campers is even better than the workout.

“We’ve developed these lovely friendships bound by all the mornings we’ve spent together,” she says.