Guide of the Month: Sita Vaughan, White Cloud

Guide of the Month, Interview

Interviewed by Brian Chaffin

Name: Sita Vaughan

Hometown: Gainesville, FL

Job Title at White Cloud: River Guide

Off Season Passions/Career/Jobs:
My most recent new passion is kite boarding. I also enjoy snowboarding, rock climbing, fly fishing, hiking, biking... Really, I'm up for any adventure. I usually work 8 months of the year and travel and visit friends and family the remaining months. In the winter I serve tables in high end restaurants and teach snowboarding on the side.

Years Guiding:
This year is my thirteenth year.

Describe your path to becoming a river guide.
I was working a corporate job. I had my paid vacation each year, but I think two weeks just wasn't enough. I decided to try to model my life around jobs that were a little more exciting and I moved to Stanley, Idaho.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
I like watching my clients transform during the trip. Nervous children on the brink of tears opening up and riding the bull; over cautious mothers sitting back and wearing a relaxed smile...I feel the joy through my guests. Oh - and watching my whole paddle boat get swallowed in a hole. I like that too.


The most frustrating or challenging?
Some people are very hard to please. I take it as a challenge. That can be the most rewarding.

Have you ever thought of moving on from guiding? Why did/didn’t you?
I did take the last two summers off to work somewhere else and made a ton of money doing it. But the joy was draining from my heart and both years I came back to Idaho in the fall to get one Middle Fork or Main Salmon in. I had to come back. Happiness is more important to me than money. I am sure of that.

Who inspires you as a guide?
Oh, tons of guides have played a roll in building me. It is hard to name a few. I don't want to make anyone feel left out. I will say I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to work on the Payette. That helped in my training immensely. Thank you Sean and Ginger for taking me in that year.

What inspires you as a guide?                                                                                               I remember guest guiding with Idaho Whitewater Unlimited. They took a line through Gateway Rapid I had never seen or even imagined. I still look at it every time I run the rapid.                                                    

How do you take care of yourself during the guiding season?
Coco butter, coconut oil, stretching, and the occasional happy hour.

Tell us the story of your first commercial run.
I wish I could remember it.

Any memorable big lines?
It took me 7 years of trying, but I finally dump trucked in surprise rapid. They were my friends, not paying guests. And they were all good sports and down for a swim. I would never take people through that line if I didn't think they could handle it.

What advice would you give an aspiring river guide?
Be brave and confident. Your guests can smell fear.

Why Idaho?
When I was becoming a guide, I chose Idaho because I had an aunt living in Ketchum. I was encouraged to stay near family in case I injured myself. My aunt has since moved, and my new family is the community. I feel so much love from everyone when I come to Idaho.

Thanks Sita and have a great season!


Know an Idaho guide that goes above and beyond? Nominate them for Redside Guide of the Month by e-mailing media@redsidefoundation.org. GOTM scores Redside and Chacos Footwear swag...and every guide needs another pair of sandals and a trucker hat!