For his Eagle Scout project, Marshal Quast upgraded an old exercise trail in Alexander Ramsey Park.
In 1980, several womens clubs of Redwood Falls decided to cooperate on a community health project: the Vita Course. Over the next year, the Audacia and Belles Lettres study clubs coordinated with the city to build a mile-long path in Ramsey Park to promote good physical fitness. The Vita Course started and ended near the footbridge over Ramsey Creek. Its course along the Redwood River included 10 stations, each dedicated to an exercise: one for pull ups, one for sit ups, a balance beam, etc. Signs by each station explained how to do the exercise, and recommended how many repetitions to try. The $3,200 cost was donated by a number of local groups and businesses, with the city chipping in the cost of clearing and maintaining the trail near the Redwood River. When the Vita Course was officially opened in July 1981, area residents had a new option to both enjoy the park and get in some extra exercise while they were at it. Over the years, though, the Vita Course stopped being a novelty, and was used less and less. By the summer of 2013, as Redwood Falls Troop 97 Boy Scout Marshal Quast was looking for an Eagle Scout community project, the Vita Course was nearly forgotten. “Patrick Rohland, our scoutmaster, told me the Vita Course was overgrown and not being used any more,” Quast said last week. “He asked if I would be interested in renovating it.” Quast, now a junior at Redwood Valley High School, tramped through the old trail to see what it was like now. “It was so overgrown, you had to squad down and sort of waddle through all the brush,” he said. “I thought one part of the trail was a dead end, it was so overgrown.” As for the old exercise stations, “they were so rotted, if you pushed them they’d just fall over.” After getting permission from the Friends of the Park and the city parks and recreation department, Quast put together a plan to bring the old Vita Course back in some form or another. (Putting together plans and specifications will come in handy for Quast later in life — he’s currently hoping to major in engineering or aerospace when he gets to college.) First, the old trail was shortened to a quarter-mile loop by the river. Last summer, Quast and nearly two dozen Boy Scouts and volunteers spent a day clearing the brush out, filling a nearby parking lot with the stuff, which the city hauled to the burn site. The old exercise stations were abandoned and not replaced. “It’s more of a walking, nature trail now, with signs depicting nature native to the area,” Quast said. He raised nearly $2,000 to pay for the signs, as well as finding donors to fund three new benches as rest stops. Quast’s new Vita Course was all set to be dedicated in June, during the city’s 150th anniversary celebrations, immediately after the swayback bridge was re-dedicated. Unfortunately, the course — like the swayback — was under about three feet of water at the time due to a sudden summer flood several days earlier. After the delay, the ribbon-cutting and rededication of Vita Course is set for Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 11:30 a.m. in the park. If you want to jog it for the exercise, that’s okay, too.