Mod note: I moved this into it’s own thread. I have written a decent explanation why here.
I was very disappointed that I couldn’t go out with you today, and the reasons why have led me to start a discussion on the role of hike leaders.
For the most part, people have accepted me as a sort of unofficial leader of the club. I started it, lead most hikes, and spend a lot of time looking for and scouting out new and interesting places for us. Furthermore, in the past, when hard decisions had to be made, such as telling Mingshah and Mr. He that they could not bring their children along on hikes, it was me who had to make them. And without exception, my decisions were respected.
There is a problem now that one member of our group no longer has any respect for me (he has said this openly in a letter) and disagrees that I have any right to make decisions to exclude people. He says this is a public club, and the hikes are open to the public. This is true to some degree, but as I wrote, we have excluded people in the past because their needs didn’t match ours.
Now I don’t want to suggest that I am king of the club, and what I say goes. Others have led hikes and in the future I’m sure they will continue too. In fact, for a long time I have been trying to encourage others to lead to take some pressure off me.
But the fact remains that hikes do not happen without someone sitting down to post about a new hike (usually an area they know) and then leading it. Omni has led hikes along the Neidong River which would not have taken place without him as he knows the area and we don’t. Same with hikes Limey led on Guanyinshan, and Chris and Kitty led in Neihu. Sure it’s possible we could learn about these places ourselves, and organize our own hikes, but we all know this is not likely to happen.
So my first question now is this: Can the leader/organizer of a hike exclude other hikers by right of the efforts he or she has put into it?
In my case, I wanted to exclude one hiker firstly because he has written to me that I am an irresponsible leader, a danger to others, selfish, and it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt on one of my hikes. When I told this hiker he was not welcome on Sunday’s hike to Daxi I said that it was in part because I could no longer trust him to be cooperative. As leader of a hike, I need to believe that the people who have joined respect me and each other. To me it’s obvious that you shouldn’t go out into the wilderness with someone you don’t trust, or deeply dislike. It’s also obvious a leader does not want someone along who adds stress, and who is as likely to start taking shots at him if things go wrong, as helping out.
Now this hiker took all this to a very personal level and started calling me names. I gave him the opportunity to meet me before the hike to say what he wanted to my face. I also warned him not say anything more about my wife (as he had already made some insulting remarks). He responded with even greater insults directed at my wife (she was untrustworthy, I hadn’t a clue what she was doing, and I really needed to clean up my house), and the threat that he would bring up the problems he has with my leadership in public, at his time and choosing. I was livid and I don’t want to relive those emotions. Suffice to say, I decided that if the two of us went out on a hike together, the chances of it ending in a fistfight were pretty high. You don’t provoke a man by insulting his wife unless you are looking for serious trouble.
So, this is why I decided it would be best that I not go today. You guys just wanted to get out and enjoy the sun and a swim. It wasn’t right to put you in danger or, at the very least, in a very uncomfortable situation.
But the issue remains for the group and we can hopefully solve it in a peaceful manner on this forum. I don’t want this person on any more hikes that I lead. Period! You would think he wouldn’t want to go on hikes I lead either, especially when he believes I am a menace, but he insists he will go if he wants. I considered to just organize hikes by private email in the future, but decided this is wrong. I want to keep the club open, but I also want to keep it the very friendly, happy meeting place it has always been.
So, the only way to exclude this person is to have everyone agree that the leader of a hike has the right to say who can and can’t go.
The other issue we should bring up now is what responsibilities and duties a leader has. I have had a few complaints over the past year and a half, a few I accepted, and I few I outright rejected. If I say a hike is going to be around 4 hours and it turns out to be 4.5 please don’t complain. If we arrive at a spot that I said is very beautiful and it turns out a landslide has turned it into what looks like a construction zone, please don’t get angry with me. I don’t control the forces of nature, and I try my best to estimate times. If I said a hike was two hours and it turned out to be 4, you can complain. But with any hike over 3 or 4 hours usually there are so many variables (and group size is a big one), that exact timing is impossible. Please be flexible or don’t come along.
We are going out into the woods and many things can go wrong. We have learned what some of those may be, and now take precautions, such as always having flashlights. There’s always room to learn, and I am open to suggestions, and even some criticism that is done with respect. I am not open to being evaluated.
Anyway, just a recap of a few things we need to get out into the air:
- Can a leader exclude someone because he feels the other’s presence would harm the group in some way, or just make his task of leading that much more difficult?
- What are the leaders’ responsibilities, and what do people expect of hike leaders?