The Power of Connection | Written by Shelley Roberts Bendall

Nothing gets me jazzed up more than making a connection. Luckily, I get to do a lot of that for my job. I coordinate a couple of community-wide accreditation programs and through that I get to meet many people from all walks of life. I introduce them to each other knowing that some of them will be able to partner the services they provide and improve the health and safety of my city. Others will become personal friends. And others still will go onto to foster new relationships in other ways that will improve the quality of life of my community. I like playing the role of connector. It makes me feel useful and important and like I’m doing good things in the world.


“A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and a hurricane hits Texas,” and that whole thing, right? We never know what extraordinary happenings might occur because we made a choice to do something.


But I benefit from these connections as well. When HLAW first switched to Mighty Networks to manage our hiking groups, I was still learning my way around when a message popped up from someone I didn’t know. It wasn’t anyone from the old Facebook group, and I thought Hey! A new hiking group member already!! I was ecstatic!


It turns out this new friend, Angela, is a Scout Leader in the only female BSA troop in my area. A couple of years ago the Boy Scouts (now BSA) starting allowing girls into their program. Angela was hosting a fundraiser at a local Athleta shop and her troop would get a portion of all the sales that day.


My son is in Cub Scouts and my daughter often tags along with us even though she’s in middle school now. She’d been in Girl Scouts in elementary school and though she proclaims not to be very “outdoorsy,” I thought we’d swing by and see what this troop was all about. And, I connect to a potential new hiking partner!


Oh, how I love connections! My daughter immediately hit it off with the two Ambassador Scouts who were there and I enjoyed talking to Angela about BSA and some of the places we’ve both been hiking. We must have stayed for close to an hour! I was vibrating with excitement!


Here we are four months later and my daughter has already achieved the Scout rank.  She’s been on three camping trips (one of which she let me attend, though with stipulations about not cramping her style), learned to tie knots, how to build a fire, and begun learning wilderness first aid. Not only that, but she’s made friends out of the great group of girls who are in her troop.


My daughter, the one who fusses about going hiking, gives me the 11-year old eye roll when I tell her we’re going on an outdoor adventure, can’t get enough of camping and hiking with her Scout friends. Can you see me beaming through the computer? It makes me so happy and proud to watch her enjoy and learn about the outdoors and grow confident in her ability to exist in the outdoor space.


A tween daughter pushes back against her mother. We’ve all done it ourselves.  And while she hasn’t always been receptive to adapt my love of the outdoors, she’s found that camaraderie in other girls her age. It makes my heart want to burst.


None of this would have happened without Hike Like A Woman. Without me finding this group, or being accepted as an Ambassador, or the decision to join Mighty Networks, or the randomness of a stranger’s post, or my choice to go meet new people even though my inner introvert was trying to convince me not to…all these things had to align in the world just right in order for my daughter to find her tribe.


Full disclosure, I’ve always been like this. Right after college my girlfriends and I took a girls’ trip every year. I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time, but that core group of girls that still get together for crazy weekends are pulled from all my different pockets of friends and through me, they became friends with each other. It’s like I’m building a world in which I’m surround by one big happy family of my choosing.


3 comments on “The Power of Connection

  1. Not cramp her style–ha. Jen and Charles and I agreed that on band trips I was a chaperone so don’t come to me for money. That worked well except for our neighbor Debby who was afraid that I would watch her and tell her Mom something that she didn’t want her to know. I told her the rules and assured her that if she did anything that her mother should know that the band director would tell her mother. Good time good memories but no real connections left tho’ I did try for a while.

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