Editorial: River Guiding Principles | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
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Editorial: River Guiding Principles Photo: Scott MacGregor

A bad day on the river is always better than a good day in the office

I wouldn’t normally run this photograph. Why not? Let me count the reasons. For starters, my chicken line perimeter rope is too slack. It should be tighter to the raft so that you couldn’t get an arm or leg hung up in it. With all the hubbub about UV radiation these days, the kids shouldn’t have so much skin exposed, or any at all perhaps. And Kate is a mess. I mean look at her. A flare orange rain jacket, lilac PFD and ladybug red and white polka-dot helmet. Call the fashion police. Red alert.

But that’s not what first jumped out at you, is it? No. You were about to fire up your laptop and write a nasty letter to the editor shaming me for running a photo of children in a boat—a whitewater raft no less—not wearing their life jackets. How dare I.

Looking through the eyepiece of my Canon I noticed it too. I almost shouted over to them. But I didn’t.

Instead, I evaluated the situation. I assessed the likelihood of them falling from the boat. I quickly tallied the possible consequences and role-played my immediate actions in the unlikely event my son wobbled from a sitting position to the left or right by four feet, let go of his oars, wasn’t able to grab any of the surrounding equipment, and fell over the 22-inch tubes from the 80-degree air temperature into water he had been swimming in an hour before.

Yes, I did have this conversation with myself. I decided to let it slide. I would have ruined a brief magical moment. Pass judgment as you see fit.

Someday Doug, Kate or any of these friends may be on a Skype call with a raft guide manager. Maybe they will have applied to guide for the season...

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