My three rules for guiding

I’ve been guiding in one form or another since the early 2000s.

I first started with a local outdoor group in Boulder on a volunteer basis (we used the term “organizer”), on and off for Andrew Skurka since 2012, and now in Moab, UT.

Though the three “jobs” differed in terms of focus (fun with friends, education, giving clients a tour of the area), I found that three rules have helped me guide over the years.

What are these three rules? Simple.

  • Be safe

A simple rule. That means taking in an account the person’s health, fitness, ability, the conditions and packing appropriate supplies such as extra rain gear, water, a guide first aid kit, having the proper knowledge and skill to lead the clients, and taking notice of the weather.

From South Park

And if a client is not safe, it is impossible to follow rule two successfully…

  • Have fun!

Whether hiking up to Delicate Arch, exploring Hidden Valley, or taking clients into some remote areas of Yosemite, rule number two for me is to make sure the clients are having fun. We want to enjoy the wild places. Sometimes it can mean a simple walk and look at the petroglyphs along a moderate hike in the Moab area. Other times, it could mean getting clients to extend their abilities (safely!) to experience something never thought possible. In all cases, and at all times, I want the clients to enjoy what they are doing. Not just trudging through with heads down and trying to knock off some goal.

Being mindful of safety…and having fun doing it. 😀

And if the clients are not having fun, well, then, my third rule is not possible.

  • Learn something

The trips I guide with Andrew are educationally focused; clients learn to navigate, set up shelters, go off-trail, and other advanced backpacking techniques. But even my day tours in Moab, I still like to impart knowledge be it geology, local history, politics, and flora and fauna. I want to share my enthusiasm and passion for the wild places. And if a client learns something, I think they receive a value add to the experience.

I loved explaining the history and purpose of this pictograph to a client. As a bonus, it was an off-trail hike to get here!


Those are my three rules. I try to adhere to them as best I can, and they seem to work.

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4 years ago

I like these. Simple. Clear. Helpful. Thank you 🙂

4 years ago

Interesting. These are the exact three things that we park rangers tell the kids that we need to do at the beginning of our elementary school field trips. “Learn, stay safe, and have fun!”