During the past years I gained a lot of experience on hiking and outdoor life. But how should you pass this experience on to others, and how should you make sure that others feel comfortable and are safe when you take them on a trip? During the first couple of days I was here, we sat together with all guides for a round of information. And afterwards I came to the conclusion that in spite of all the knowledge I already had, I know nothing.
After my arrival, we sat together for three days and reviewed basically everything there is to know about the season. We went through guiding procedures and rules. We went out to get to know the tracks and orient ourselves in the environment. We got many practical tips on firewood, how to get your fire going quickly, how to mark your trails, how to protect yourself against the cold, etc. We reviewed first aid, fire safety and frost injuries. It was an overflow of information and I learned an astounding amount of new things. I’ve never had any extensive course in such hands on knowledge and it was a very welcome change from university books.
Back in Belgium, some of my friends were a bit hesitant about my choice to come to Lapland and be a guide. Some of them did not see the straight line from political science studies to working outside in the snow. Which I understand, it is just not there. Some others did not really consider it as a real job. They thought it would be a winter of pure fun and avoiding real life, another delay in the growing up process.
The past three weeks have been amazingly fun and I had a wonderful time since I came here. But since your job is taking up the major part of your time, I think it should be fun and you should like it. The past three weeks have also been days with long hours and hard work. They have demonstrated that guiding comes with great responsibility, even if tours are short. The people who come here are not very adventurous and not used be outside, most definitely not in extreme temperatures. You need to make them feel comfortable, teach them how to deal with it, and make sure they suffer no cold injuries. You need to be well prepared, well equipped and confident even if you’re not exactly sure what you are doing.
I’ve met many wonderful people so far who had a great experience up north. Since I work in a small lodge we get a lot of time to talk to the guests and get to know them better. It’s so cosy to see the staff and the guests socialise together. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season.