walking group

Hikers splitting up

The reality of walking group take overs.

One of the surprising things we have found with leading walking groups is that take over bids and power struggles are very common. You would think that a non profit walking group would be a genteel afair just filled with pleasant people who like the outdoors. This is often not the case and there can be dispicable "Game of Thrones" type power struggles and other drama. It seems that being the leader of anything is attractive to many people especially males.

Setting up your own walking group requires a lot of effort. You have to get together a group of suitable people to go on walks, research walks and work out a way of communicating with the group. This is now much easier with facebook, whatsapp, mailchimp etc but it normally takes a while to get a group established.

Sometimes somone will prefer to take over your group rather than go though the effort of setting it up themselves. This is quite common in business settings as once you have a successful business other people will try to copy what you have done and take away your clients. You could say that this is healthy competition and helps to improve the product. However it can be quite upsetting if you have a successfull takeover bid of such an innocent thing as a free waking group that you have spent a lot of time nurturing. You may have not expected that you had something that other people wanted to take over.

How to avoid take overs:

The first thing to do is to recognise that take overs exist. You may be a trusting collaborative person but try not to be too gullible. A pleasant new person will join your group and you get on well with them. Little do you know but right from the start what they really want is to take you over. They may not have sufficient organisational or technical skills to set a group up themselves so they prefer to have yours. As the majority of people are not very loyal it is quite easy to infiltrate a walking group and take it over so here are some of the things that you can do to avoid this.

Never share the administrative password to any of you social media or communication platforms.

Never share the assets of you group with anyone. The most important asset is the gpx files of you walks. Every modern walking group will have a portfolio of favourite walks. It would be nice to think that your files could be shared with anyone who wanted to go on your walks. You may even have them available to download. Unfortunately this can be a mistake. When you still have a friendly relationship your usurper will download all your walks and later upload them to his own site. You may have spent many hours addding waypoints and other improvements but once they are stolen it is too late even if you can prove that they are yours. Nobody will care.

The take over starts when you allow usurper to lead some walks. They will ingratiate themselves with your members and appear to be a pleasant person The worst thing you can do is let someone lead walks when you go on holiday or take a break. Unfortunately unless you have very good trust in someone it may be best to close your group down altogether when you take a break. Hopefully you can fully close everything down so that it is impossible to communicate with your members.

What to do when you have been taken over:

. If you have put a lot of effort into your group then the feeling of injustice may be even damaging to your mental health especially when the usurper portrays themselves as being the good guy and you as the bad guy. You will be portrayed as problematic and that there was no alternative to split up with you even though in reality you were bending over backwards to help them.

You may be tempted to appeal to the members of the group and highlight the bad way you have been treated. Unfortunately most people only care about their own personal interest and if the alternative group is OK almost nobody will care about the injustice. Now, they are going to be walking with the walks you created so the alternative will be OK. If you have not been totally dispirited by the whole experience and you want to continue it may be best to pull together a small group of your actual friends and continue. At this time you will find out who your friends are. Next time don't be so trusting.


Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik