An Idaho Guide’s Letter to the Industry

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Dear, Idaho Guides.
A Letter submitted by Idaho Guide, Dagny Deutchman 
Dear Idaho Guiding Community—

Decisions made within our industry have historically felt out of reach for guides. This balance has always been uncomfortable and sometimes left me uneasy or disgruntled. Despite this, I am always willing to show up and do the work. I love my job and will do almost anything to get to continue to work in wild places with wild people.

Well, things are really strange right now. Some of us are pretending this is just another normal offseason because on the day-to-day this doesn’t feel different from what we’re typically doing this time of year. Some of us are in full panic, thinking about how to switch careers entirely to avoid this kind of instability in the future. Personally, I find myself feeling worried. 

I am worried about whether I will have work this coming season. I am worried about my coworkers, who might have less stability than I do. I am watching the outfitters sweat about pending cancellations. I am starting to count my pennies, buy cheaper beer, and brainstorm alternatives for summer work if things get really bad. 

Nevertheless—in such an unprecedented time—I also find myself feeling hopeful. Guides are the masters of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” We know what it’s like to be faced with surprises big and small. We know how to damage-control emergencies and stabilize bad situations. We know how to support each other through tough times with laughter and kindness.

We know the extent of our grit. 

I don’t know about you, but the idea of not having a season is only emphasizing how much I care about my guiding job and how devastated I will be without it — both financially and spiritually. 

It is the specter of losing this coming season that makes me realize how vital it is that we, as a collective whole, make sure our voices are being heard as decisions are being made.

We are guides—we lead the way, that is what we do. Nobody is going to advocate for our industry better than us. We might not be in our favorite wild places, but this is still an important time to do the hard work of sharing our lives with people who don’t know anything about it. Usually, the people we share our lives with are clients, who pay a lot of money to spend time with us. Right now, the people we need to share our lives with the most are our elected officials who we pay to represent us fairly. 

I have asked IOGA to help me put out some follow up material that makes us—the guides—have an easier time getting involved quickly and effectively. Please be on the lookout for these.

I do not typically start my guiding season until early June, but today I’ve started calling and writing to my elected officials. I am telling them about my life, what I need as a guide to make it through this, and why it’s important to so many people. If the thought of not having a season this summer makes your stomach churn, even in the slightest, I hope you will do the same. 

In Solidarity, 

Dagny Deutchman 
Dagny Deutchman has been boating in the Frank Church Wilderness over a decade. Since the age of fifteen Dagny has spent every summer of her life out on the water. There is no other place she would rather be. In the off season you can find Dagny pursing a PhD in Sleep and Mindfulness. She loves a good story, handwritten snail mail and cooking for friends and family on the weekends and dancing the night away. 
If you'd like to share your perspective with our community during these tough times
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