The Boat Company, a non-profit corporation that operates educational and recreational excursions in southeast Alaska aboard two intimate touring vessels, is following the lead of Orvis and matching end-of-the-year donations to the Guide Relief Program (GRP), up to $10,000.
The GRP is a non-profit started by Mollie Simpkins and KynsLee Scott in Montana to assist fishing guides dealing with crises, both in the form of existential challenges, like floods and hurricanes, and from more subtle threats, like health-care funding, mental health access and such.
“It truly is the season of giving, and we’re very grateful to The Boat Company and to Orvis for matching donations to this program,” Simpkins said Friday. “Anybody who has ever fished with a guide knows just how hard they work, but they likely don’t know how hard they work before and after spending a day with clients on the water.”
Just this year, fishing guides in Montana and throughout the Rockies have had to deal with record flooding and heat-induced river closures and then, this fall, two major hurricanes slammed southern Florida, putting fishing guides out of work for weeks. More severe weather events are likely on the horizon due to climate change, as weather- and disaster-related events often steal client days away from guides. Couple that with the physical nature of the job and the emotional stress that comes with just making ends meet in an uncertain economy, and guides are among the most-impacted by external stressors that are often completely out of their control.
“We’re happy to help the Guide Relief Program,” said Hunter McIntosh, a principal partner in The Boat Company, which has been touring the Inside Passage for 40 years. “We employ guides on our boats, and without them, the experience we offer to guests wouldn’t be the same. We understand the complex nature of their jobs — in very few other fields do professionals have to change hats so many times. One minute, they’re a customer service agent, the next they’re a fishing pro, and the next they’re standing between clients and a brown bear armed with a can of bear spray. It’s a stressful gig, and they’re very under-appreciated.”
Now, with both Orvis and TBC matching end-of-the-year donations to the GRP, the non-profit stands to triple any donations it’s able to raise over the next week or so. That means it can invest even more in the guiding community, and respond to guides in dire need of basic services, from guide insurance to mental health care.
“We’re so grateful to Orvis and The Boat Company,” Simpkins said. “Please give generously and help us raise money so we help guides all over the country. They do so much for us, as anglers, and not just for clients. Guides our the front-line ambassadors for our sport and for the protection of the resources that make our sport sustainable. Please help them if you can.”
Donations can be made directly through a secure portal on the GRP website. All donations are tax-deductible.