You’ve heard a bit about our guides in previous posts. Let me take just a moment to express a sincere word of thanks and awe, and to give parents an idea of how much CFI’s staff invests in each outdoor experience. Canyonlands Field Institute is a nonprofit outdoor education organization . . . more than just a guide company. Recognizing that we have a curriculum in place, our naturalists were always eager to lead the way in an interpretive activity or to jump in and make meaningful additions to our work.
Our trip leader Matt is primarily responsible for moving us down the river safely and in no more and no less than six days. When you’re dealing with a spring melt like ours, that’s not as easy as you would think. Matt was always the lead boat, he decided on our route within the river, our destination, and he provided a lot of background to the various campsites, mining roads, side canyons and access points along the way. He led a few of our hikes and provided deft leadership during our canoe rescue.
Heather and Evan are listed as our “Naturalist Guides” on planning documents, but they are so much more. Heather led some of our hikes, served as crew medic, and kept the boys entertained with countless games and riddles. She calmed worried minds during the canoe rescue and was our all-around Mama Bear, taking care of kid and teacher alike. In her naturalist role, Heather seized teachable moments with expert timing, inviting the boys into the natural world beneath their feet, above their heads, and along the canyon walls.
Evan, who has garnered a bit of a cult following among the boys, was our camp cook. Cook is an inadequate term. Due to last minute purchasing changes, Evan improvised a few meals or meal ingredients…yet not a single meal was anything less than spectacular. The boys are still talking about the G.O.A.T tuna salad. (GOAT: Greatest Of All Time). Evan, as you read in Will’s post, had a ready supply of games, riddles, jokes, and stories. Evan also played a key instructional role alongside Heather. Their mix of Biology and Environmental Science backgrounds made a great combination. More than any single trait, interest, specialty or responsibility, Heather and Evan committed themselves to knowing and caring about our kids. And in such a short time span, that made all the difference.
Without further ado, we’d love for you to meet our guides.