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Old 07-11-2007   #11
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 246
Vicious Cycle

I agree that outfitters don't pay enough, but guides usually don' have the credentials to deserve higher pay.

Few companies have an guide staff that is both WFR and SWR certified. Usually somebody with those credientials is a TL and that person is typically making pretty good money.

But very few first or second year guides have the money to afford WFR and SWR, and few companies are willing to pay for the courses because the odds are a guide won't be around long enough to make the investment pay off.

The problem is when you have WFR, SWR, 8,000-10,000 river miles and finally making decent cash, you realize that four months (if that) of work doesn't pay the bills.

In addition, you have no health benefits, no retirement plan, and very little job security. At the end of a season an outfitter can call it quits and sell his/her company, file for bankruptcy after a drought (rember 2002?), or wither under the pressure of a catastrophic lawsuit.

Furthermore, most older guides either move on to a "real job" for finiancial/stability reasons or they opt for a career that doesn't involve foot entrapment.

If an outfitter offered health care/retirement and a livable year-round wage to every guide, I believe many more "seasoned" guides would stick around. The only problem is, if the outfitters did this, they would be out of business in a year.

Outfitters may take in $800 per boat while they pay their guide $50, but that outfitter is also paying for insurance (oppressively expensive), workman's comp (staggering prices), gas, wages, and a slew of other operating costs. By the time it's done, the outfitter doesn't have much in his/her pocket to last the winter.

So it goes. Outfitters can't afford to keep experienced guides around for perpituity. Those seasoned guides leave for the "real world", and a whole new class of rookies litters the river with carnage as their 200 river miles and CPR/First Aid certifications lead forth a path of soaking-wet, freezing-cold midwesterners.

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Old 07-11-2007   #12
GWS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 486
I agree that the notion of greedy rafting companies is a joke. Most of the ones that i have dealt with are constantly tapping their lines of credit to make it through slow years.

Beaner has some excellent points. I am guessing that a raft trip on the numbers is about $100 per person. That $100 is buying a ride to the put in, a guide who knows the river and knows how to manage a crew, maybe lunch, and a ride home (unless you die). The $100 does not buy you a guarnatee that if you fall in you will not die, it does not guarantee that if you are in good shape you will not drown. If a customer is looking for the risk free ride they should go do the Ragging Rappids run and Disney Land.

To stand on Beaners points, if you buy a car no one asks if you are a good driver, or have road rage, or want to use it for driveby shootings. When you buy a hand gun, no one puts you throught a psych evaluation to determine if you should own a gun.

Remoteproductions, you acknowledge that no matter how many times you tell a customer that it is dangerous, they don't get it. What more can you do, or more importantly, what more should you do. I subscribe to the theory that we are all responsible for ourselfs. If the customer does not want to heed any warnings, then fuckem.

Finally, in my experince (and so it is clear for you remoteproductions, that is 10 years of kayak instruction and raft guiding and seven more just for fun) when people sign up for the upper animas, or the numbers, or gore canyon, they are paying for the "extreme experience" . They are seeking it out and paying money for it. If they die in the process due to a weak heart, random accident, or other incident not attributed to negligence, then tough.

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Old 07-11-2007   #13
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
Have some heart

Geez you guys, have some heart. He is obviously distressed about a situation, and wanted to vent. Don't take/make it all so personal. There is nothing wrong with asking when are they going to step up to the plate? There is something wrong with blasting out reason after reason as to WHY THEY SHOULDN'T STEP UP.

There could have been a good discussion about what outfitters do, and do do. Why they don't do the things they don't (well covered but still hostile), and what could change that. Not that we could save the world here, but discussion ends when hostility starts.

One thing I think would help is to have a lot more safety talk BEFORE they shuttle to the put in. I don't see those folks paying a lot of attention when it is hot, they are excited, and there is a buzz of activity around. But, I don't know how much they do before hand, but from the talks I hear at the put ins, it seems like they do it all there.
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Old 07-11-2007   #14
TOUCHDOWN, Mississippi
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 144
Originally Posted by farp View Post
So it goes. Outfitters can't afford to keep experienced guides around for perpituity. Those seasoned guides leave for the "real world", and a whole new class of rookies litters the river with carnage as their 200 river miles and CPR/First Aid certifications lead forth a path of soaking-wet, freezing-cold midwesterners.
Sadly, that's the most accurate thing I've ever read on mountain buzz forums.

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