Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
GUIDING IN THE NATIONAL PARKS
PRINCIPLES OF GUIDING IN THE NATIONAL PARKS AND NOTES ON THE INTENSITY OF SERVICE OFFERED
By Dorr G. Yeager
Principles of Guiding:
The principles of nature guiding are many and books could be written on the subject. In an article which I recently wrote for the 1929 Ranger Naturalists Manual under the title “Elements of Nature Guiding” I summed them up as follows:
- The love for nature and the ability to stimulate an interest and corresponding love for living things to members of your party.
- A thorough knowledge of your subject, and the ability to pass that knowledge on in simple, interesting terms.
- Courtesy and a level head.
- A character big enough to say “I don’t know”
- Originality and a sense of humor.
Unless one has led trips in the field the importance of these principles can scarcely be appreciated; but they are all-important to successful guiding.
I will treat each principle briefly. It is obvious that it is necessary for a successful guide to love his work. The most successful guide I ever knew loved it so much that he radiated that love to his entire party. That was the secret of his success. A thorough knowledge of the subject is essential if the attention and faith of the party in their guide be maintained. I realize that it is impossible for any one man to know everything about a subject, though and, as I have pointed out in “4” above, he should be able to say “I don’t know.” He should, however, offer to look up the answer to the question. The third principle is self-evident and so, I believe, is the last.
In guiding, one of the biggest assets is a knowledge of psychology and the ability to apply its principles. If the crowd is tired a story at the psychological moment will do wonders to put new life into them. If they are in receptive mood this should be taken advantage of by the guide. If they are not, then it is up to him to get them into that mood.
Naturally certain other elements would come under this head — such as the speed of walking, force of the voice, etc. — which must be regulated from time to time as the crowd dictates. All of these things are better handled by the guide himself, and it is impossible to set down any definite rules.