I am occasionally asked what it means to be a Registered Maine Guide and quite honestly, I often find the answer difficult to effectively express. Becoming a Registered Maine Guide is like being inducted into a family of like minded outdoors men and women, all sharing a bond and common passion for Maine’s woods and waters.
With both Grandfathers, Father, Uncle and a Cousin all Registered Maine guides, for me becoming a guide was about being able to carry on the proud heritage and traditions, perhaps someday even inspiring my own children to become Maine guides.
A career steeped in custom and ritual, being a Maine guide means doing your small part to ensure that the guiding traditions, ideals and oral history are forever preserved. This directive of course is no easy task, for as society has changed, so has the Maine guide also found it necessary to evolve or else risk certain extinction. This becomes a conundrum of sorts between the “old” guides and the “new” guides, as they both independently struggle to decide how to best preserve traditional guiding practices, in the face of a society no longer fully embracing these same principles? At its heart, the issue equates to simply adapting to ensure the survival of the Registered Maine Guide.
This skirmish line is were we see a divide between the old wool wearing guides and the new guides sporting Gore-Tex.
HISTORICAL SIDE NOTE: It is my understanding that this same dividing line occurred when the REALLY old guides began watching the “young whipper snappers” no longer paddling their Grand Lake canoes but instead using fancy outboards.
In other words, change is inevitable and must be embraced rather than ignored. A guide may change his mode of transport, a cell phone may replace a VHF radio, a GPS may be used for navigation and Gore-Tex may even replace wool but under all of the clothing and technology, it is the heart and soul of the Maine Guide that really matters. It is their innate knowledge and love of Maine’s wild places, gregarious nature and Yankee ingenuity that makes them uniquely iconic.
There are of course many young guides who are adapting and many old timers who are not. Eventually, it will be society who will ultimately will chisel a new breed of guide out of Maine’s course granite and it will be this modern, new-fangled and perhaps even contemporary Registered Maine Guide that will lead an entirely new generation of our society in its exploration of Maine’s wild lands and waters.
We as guides need to set aside our difference, we must learn to embrace and nurture young guides, especially those individuals where guiding is not their livelihood or primary source of income. “Full timers” will often chastise these individuals as not being “real” guides and it is this particular level of arrogance that really gets up my dander. Is it justifiable to belittle the half time teacher just because they don’t teach a full day? Does the half time teacher not have a passion for teaching and a love for their students? When did time become an indicator that someone is more or less valuable then another human being in his or her efforts in a particular career or cause? I may not have the time to guide more then a few “sports” every year but those are the moments I most cherish, for in those times I have a chance to show people Maine’s subtle intrinsic beauty and for me that is what guiding is all about.
It's sad to see these kinds of divisions. Maine Guides, farmers, hunters, fisherman... There are many ways to love being outdoors; better to enjoy what works well for us rather lose interest because we aren't interested in someone else's method.ReplyDelete
How boring it would be if we all thought, believed and acted in the same manner.
I completely agree! Nicely stated!Delete
You and DEDH look so young!ReplyDelete
That picture was only take 2 years ago! LOL!Delete
The two "old timers" in the photo don't look so bad either...ReplyDelete
It isn't the years on those particular two, as much as the high mileage and lack of regular oil changes. :)Delete
Steve- I think as long as the young guides respect the old timers and have the desire to learn their tricks not all will be lost.ReplyDelete
The fact is, the patch is usually handed down in a family and so that respect and desire already exist.
Also, I look forward to the post about your sons preparing to take their guide exam.
I would take it a step further and say that there needs to be mutual respect. The old timers have much to learn from the new guides as well. I like to say that everyone has a story to tell and something you can learn from them, all you need to do is intently listen.Delete
The patch is handed down until there exists nobody left to take it up. I think you are beginning to see this unfortunate occurrence with some of what I would categorize as the Maine guiding royal families.
My sons are only 4 and 6 at this time but it is my hope that they will grow up loving the outdoor lifestyle and grow to develop a respect and admiration for Maine's woods and waters. Unfortunately, like a lot of our youth, they will likely leave Maine in an attempt to find employment and never to return.
I won't get up on a soap box BUT I will say that "Brain Drain", which we like to complain a lot about here in Maine, is a problem WE create. We want our kids to have the opportunity to live and work here then we need to look at the road blocks we as Mainers are causing to perpetuate this issue . . . rant complete. :)
I appreciate you again using photos of me to enhance your popular website. If I remember correctly, the photo of just you and me does in fact say a thousand words. Actually, if you remember you said something snarky and I had threatened to land a devastating nut buster that would render you useless. Hence the diverted hips away from me.ReplyDelete
The newest generation of Maine Guides better not think that it's a lucrative business. After helping somebody from the Bangor area get his license, my first words of support was, "do NOT quit your day job".
Nice post man, just faxed out the "I do"...
LOL! Thanks for offering the clarification on that! I had thought that pose was funny but had assumed it was simply the fact that you smelled funny and my body was revolting getting any closer than it had to.Delete
Yes, I agree . . . VERY difficult to get started as an independent guide. Must work through a lodge or work for years to slowly build a strong client base.
NICE! We are so going to be famous. I hope they film the first survival episode in Cancun during spring break.