Ah, but the gas was already in the trucks, they already owned the rafts, they had the day off, and they needed the cash to get their drugs fix. I doubt they were losing money, and $200 is pretty good cash for piracy. They definitely weren't all friends...scooby450 - I think you are just fine. To me the line is advertising your services, falsely representing your self as an outfitter, and trying to get paid for the act of guiding. There is nothing illegal about renting life jackets and helmets at or below market rates, or counting your wear, tear and deprecation on your raft and other gear, or polling the cost of gas for all the trip vehicles (including your rig which is probably a truck or a vehicle with a trailer that doesn't get great gas mileage or seat many people). If your friends want to buy you dinner or some beer after the trip - or even give you a tip - as long as it isn't a requirement I think its fine.
Assuming Jim Lujan told the truth in his post I think he is a borderline victim here. If you use his estimate of $25 per person at 9 people (2 guides, 7 paddlers), that is a budget of $225. If the group used two vehicles to run the shuttle and drove each say 100 miles round trip (I really have no idea how many miles the Gauley shuttle is round trip of where the group met) at $.50 a mile that's $100 in gas and deprecation (last I knew the federal reimbursement rate was $.525 a mile). Lunch for 9 people at $7 each is $63. Deprecation on a raft and associated gear is about $50 a day depending on how you calculate it. Then add in for the shredder's deprecation for about $25. Also any river fees and takeout fees - I think they charge private at the upper G takeout. That's $238 plus the permit/takeout fees. He got $200 from them. $238 divided 9 ways is $26.44. So the guy who set it up and the two guides were about $40 in the hole, but should have been $53 in the hole of they were fully cost sharing. That's a partly $13 difference.