“…[the river] It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.” – Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows

A coworker is defined simply as a fellow worker, while family is a group of parents and children living together in a household. One evening while sitting around the fire I looked around at my fellow guides and then turned to the one I was talking to and said “I would trust every one of these people with my life.” That was the moment I realized what a unique and very special bond we river guides have. Out here on the river, however, we river guides get to experience a unique combination of these two groups of people. Out here our coworkers are our family. 

While we might not be biologically related, our fellow guides are the closest thing we have during the summer. Our parents and siblings and significant others all mostly live hundreds of miles away, and even if they don’t, we are out of contact for weeks at a time.  However, not only do we work with our fellow river guides, we are with them 24/7. We live together in tent cities, warehouses and on tarps. Together we provide meals for our guests when we’re on the river and off the river we share in a common bond of never enough food. 

We are all made of the same mold. Sure we are unique human beings but all river guides share some common threads. We all love the river for one, and we love sharing the river with our guests. All river guides love adventure and we love the places we get to work. We are relatively disconnected from the outside world, but no company rumor gets past us. River guides would rather listen to a story or a song or just chat than watch TV. 

We could tell you everything about each other’s personal lives, where someone is from, how they were raised, and everything about their significant other, but we won’t. River guides get the advantage of having a built in group of friends to hang out with. You can count on your fellow guides to have your back whether you’re celebrating or mourning. Sure we sometimes disagree but all families have their rough spots. At the end of the day I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to call my family.

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