When you think of a guide what words come to mind?
I would like to share with you how my head sees Leading and Guiding. We have a dog Charlie, he loves – no really loves – going for a walk. To put this into perspective Charlie is a therapy dog and is highly trained and obedient, this does not mean we have trained the personality out of him. Those that know will confirm he is a character.
When its walk time we have the highest level of excitement, on the spot pirouettes. If we leave the house and we put him on a lead he will walk to heel never pull move away from our side. When we get back home, he has enjoyed his walk, not much stimulation but been out and exercised.
But if I don’t put him on a lead he will walk to heel until we say he can ‘go’ he will go and have an explore, lots of sniffing. When we get to a junction in the path Charlie will wait to be told which way to go. Sometimes we say ‘up to you’ at this point he will normally head towards the river! But the point is he is on a guided walk, Charlie’s walk. He has had ownership of his walk, this has allowed him to make decisions, at some points when near roads we have taken more control getting him to walk to heel. This has made him think more and to apply his training more, than if we put him on his lead. This guided walk has had lots of stimulation and allowed him to run and walk at his will. A happy Charlie.
I’m not suggesting Leaders put their clients on leads but maintain direct control. A guide will look at how to ‘stimulate’ their clients giving them a role in decision making may occur, but it’s the added value a guide brings to the trip, not just coaching the paddling but raising the awareness of the environment they are in and the possibilities. This can include informal things like Local information, Bushcraft, Wildlife observation or more formal like John Muir Award, Leave no trace course delivery and even delivery of Guide Modules on a trip or expedition.