Sitting quite close to the only significant stretch of mountain in Slavonia, you could have guessed some Davuvar residents would be keen on wandering into their nearby Nature Park and its peaks. But, you would surely never have known that Daruvar Mountaineering Association is Croatia’s largest. It’s so big, it counts every 25th resident of the town as a member.
Daruvar itself has some 10, 000 inhabitants. The Daruvar Mountaineering Association ‘Petrov vrh’ has 400 members, making it not only the largest sports association in the city but the largest mountaineering association in Croatia. Not so long ago, the society did not rank so highly.
Papuk Nature Park, ‘home turf’ for Daruvar Mountaineering Association Petrov vrh © Papuk Nature Park
In 2017, Daruvar Mountaineering Association ‘Petrov vrh’ had only about fifty members. Its rapid growth can be attributed to a willful pursuit of younger town residents, a change in their programme and the embrace of modern communication methods. The Daruvar Mountaineering Association built its own website, set up a Facebook page and began attracting younger members. Its communication with town residents had previously involved only printed pieces of news pinned to a public bulletin board in Daruvar.
Their organised group excursions grew in ambition – trips in recent years have taken Daruvar Mountaineering Association members to climbs across Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, with some of the peaks tackled being over 3000 metres. But, it wasn’t solely in the difficulty of the climb and the distances travelled in which they increased their ambition. The excursions were programmed specifically with families in mind and thought put into entertaining young members on each trip. It worked. Over 100 members of the Daruvar Mountaineering Association ‘Petrov vrh’ are underage climbers.
Although last year the Daruvar Mountaineering Association was unable to make its planned trips to Hungary and Montenegro because of travel restrictions, the sporadic closure of cafes and bars in Daruvar helped membership increase further, according to local news in moj.portal. Who knows how many this year will be taking to the hills with Petrov vrh.