When is a community a clique?

Last Friday we were travelling along the Grand Union canal, looking for somewhere to moor up for a few days to get through the 40°C heatwave. We came up with three options. We could stay in Tring Cutting, a deep, tree covered mile of canal, with loads of shade but no facilities. We could go to the end of the Aylesbury arm of the canal and stay in the basin there, with some shade, water available and access to the town centre. Or we could stay in the Aylesbury Canal Society (ACS) marina, with electricity, water, toilets, seats outside in the shade, and two minutes from a Lidl, but with the boat in bright sunshine. We chose that one.

From a heatwave perspective I think it was a good choice. The boat did get roasting hot in the afternoons and evenings, but we got my brother to bring a fan, so that at lest the air was moving, We had plenty to drink and bought some ice from the supermarket. And most of the time, I and the dogs sat outside, with the other boat residents, talking about canals we have visited and people we have met.

The ACS members are clearly a community. They help each other whenever there is a problem. They all get involved with society events. Everyone knows what is going on in everyone else’s lives. When we were travelling there, other non-ACS boaters told us they are a bit of a clique. They keep themselves to themselves and do not welcome outsiders. We did not find that. We found them helpful. But I can see why it would be said. They are somewhat obsessed with themselves and what they do. Does that make them a clique?

I remember before I retired that I consciously tried to avoid cliques and organisational politics. I had had too many bad experiences of people trying to become successful by walking over others. Or “in crowds” that would not let me join. But with hindsight, perhaps some of my teams must have looked a bit like cliques to others. What made us successful was that we all looked after each other and were proud of ourselves as “the best” team.

I suspect that is how it is with ACS. They are a successful community that others see as a clique.

Are you part of any great communities? Is that how others see them?