In the early 90s I was on a private trip where several of the participants were change agents, former Outward Bound instructors and organizational consultants. All, including me, were very experienced in group work, especially involving change and transition. At Pipe Creek, three “significant others” of men remaining on the trip hiked out and were replaced by three “strangers” who were unfamiliar with most of the group. For some reason there was no acknowledgement of the significance of the three who were leaving the trip, and nothing was done to “consciously” bring the three new people into the group. As a result, the new folks spent the rest of the trip on the outside looking in. It was a powerful message about the crucial importance of consciously saying goodbye to those leaving, and consciously integrating the new people into the group.
It is essential on all our interchange trips to acknowledge those leaving, which we often, but not always, do on the night before the interchange. And it is equally valuable to find the time to integrate the new folks into the group as early in the Lower end as possible. For me, the best time is the morning after the interchange. It is often a more casual morning and getting out of camp early is not necessary. Each trip, each TL, and each crew, will be different. There is no “right way” to accomplish this. What’s important is to take the time for in depth introductions. Hopefully, the continuing passengers have been proactive about helping the new folks get up to speed at Pipe Creek and the first night’s camp. One possible suggestion is to form a circle after the rafts have been loaded and do the same kind of introduction as done on Day One of the trip. To help the new passengers get up to speed, one suggestion would be to ask the continuing passengers and guides to share one or two experiences during the Upper portion to provide some insight into what has transpired on the trip. This will help the newcomers feel more a part of the group.
There are many ways to honor those leaving and those entering. I’ve been on trips where this wasn’t done, and they worked out just fine (it is the Canyon after all). Even so, it’s my belief that taking an extra hour or so the night before the interchange, and on that first morning, will result in a more connected tribe while making everyone feel more present and more engaged.