Seven Tips for Guiding Others in the Outdoors
It's likely that a friend is going to contact you and ask you for information about a local outdoor location or attraction, or they're going to suggest you are the one to take them there. Heck, you may be the one suggesting to others that it's time to get outdoors together. So what are the key factors to consider when preparing and guiding friends or associates in the great outdoors.
1- Do you know the location, the trail, or destination well? If not, there are plenty of resources for gathering details. For demonstration purposes, lets say I'm looking for information about one of my favorite places; the Ivins Petroglyphs, in southwestern Utah's Santa Clara River Reserve. (note - now referenced as Anasazi Petroglyphs). Here's a few resources (I've added hyperlinks).
- Google Maps and/or Google Earth
- Printed Info./Maps (PDF)
- General Internet searches will bring up all kinds of resource information. Note: Don't trust just one source. Web-sites such as Trip Advisor, and local directories (StGeorgeUtah.com) will have information about this location.
- There are online forums where you can ask questions and gather answers.
- Some people use their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Others) to openly ask questions and see who responds.
2- Do you know the physical capabilities of your participants? I've guided people of all abilities, even visually or mentally impaired individuals, and with the right preparation, and assistance, great experiences can be the result. However, tough experiences can result when one or more of the participants are not prepared for the level of required physical ability.
3- Are you prepared to solve the challenges/needs of those you guide? Short hikes or outdoor activities, close to home, will be less of an issue but when you're outdoors further away from civilization, and on a longer adventure, be prepared. I've dealt with people being thrown by a horse, tripping or falling, rolling rocks under their feet and getting injured, and I've injured myself on a few occasions. Bottom line is that you should be prepared to apply first aid or assist someone in getting medical treatment. Read more about preparation here.
4- What do you know about the location/destination? Can you add to the experience by sharing details about the topography, geology, history, or biology?
- Printed Info./Maps (PDF)
5- Set a solid meeting place and time, and identify optional plans if someone doesn't arrive on time.
6- Spend time with each individual. Make an effort to circulate through you group throughout your experience, asking about how they are doing, and getting to know them better. Make the experience about them, and not about you.
7- Be positive. Be calm, and focus on the others of your group. Let them be the center of attention, and just enjoy the experience.
These are seven solid things to consider as you endeavor to provide great outdoor experiences for others while you act as the guide.