Moving with a Tribe

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On a sunny but not-too-hot day, I took my children hiking on a fairly technical trail. Despite the gorgeous weather and the interesting terrain and the beauties of nature and a beckoning geocache and my snack-bribes, they whined and moved slowly and at one point my youngest sat down and refused to move. A few weeks later we attempted the same hike again. This time the weather was bitterly cold, the trail was muddy from recent rains, and I forgot to pack any snacks. But this time we had a huge group of friends with us, and my children enthusiastically zoomed along the trail, chatting excitedly about imaginative topics and pointing out interesting things to the group. This is a pattern I’ve seen often in my many years of hiking with children: sometimes complaints of being too tired or too hungry or too bored or too hot or too cold are magically solved in the momentum of a group. Social connection and peer relationships can be the spoonful of sugar that helps the hiking go down.

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