A Day in the Life of a GOAT Guide
By: Carrie Williams
Considering I did not really know what my days would look like when I was applying for the
position, I am assuming that the majority of our readers also do not know what exactly the
GOAT guides do. So if you are curious as to what we spend our days doing, keep reading!
First things first, technically GOAT guides are interns; however, we are not usually called
interns. I’ll let you in on our inside joke – if you break something, instead of buying the
replacement, you just get demoted to an intern (haha)! Secondly, there are 5 GOAT guides:
Hayden, Holden, Abbey, Emily, and me (Carrie). We all come from different areas of the
country and none of us knew each other before we started in May! GOAT also has two junior
guides: Zharyah and Alijah. The junior guides are students who have been through the GOAT
program before and have showed interest and leadership skills so they help run trips on Mondays
and Tuesdays. Some days we will run one trip and all of us will go together, but some days we
run two trips and we split up.
This past Tuesday was one of the days where we ran two trips. Hayden, Zharyah, and I took a
group of students from Sustaining Way hiking on Falls Creek Falls trail while Holden, Abbey,
and Emily took a group of students from Mosaic paddleboarding on Lake Keowee.
For the hiking trip, Hayden and I met at the Lead Collective office to make lunches at 8:45. We
then went to Mountain Goat to pack all the gear for the trip as our storage container is on the
property. Sustaining Way met us at the trailhead so Hayden drove the three of us there in his car.
When Sustaining Way got there, we played a few name games, made sure everyone was all set
with bug spray, and gave a quick lesson on how to identify poison ivy. The hike is a mile and a
half to a huge waterfall where we eat lunch and do a devotional. On the hike up, I surprisingly hit
a patch of service to receive a phone call from the Éleos program director, Grace. We did a bit of
coordinating for our trip the next day with the Éleos students! As Hayden was our trip leader, he
taught the lesson and did a fantastic job teaching the kids about trusting in the Lord just like you
have to trust in your hiking guides. After, we played in the river some looking for crawfish and
salamanders. We didn’t find any crawfish but we found a few salamanders that were,
unfortunately, too fast to catch. Eventually we made our way back down to the trailhead, said
goodbye to the kids, and headed back to Mountain Goat to put up our gear. On both the way up
and down, I was hiking in the back with the same group of students so I was able to get to know
them really well. We talked all about school, what they were looking forward to about the new
year, and what all they do with Sustaining Way. That is definitely one of the best things about
the trips is getting to know the students well.
While I was on this trip, the group paddleboarding split to make lunch and start loading up the
trailer at 7:45. They then left to pick up the Mosaic students by 9:00. After picking up the
students, they started the trek to Lake Keowee, which is approximately an hour away. During the
van ride, the guides caught up with the kids, since we have already been on a few trips with
them, and they played card games. Upon arriving at Keowee, the kids helped the guides unload
the paddleboards and the students who hadn’t been paddleboarding with GOAT before went
through a clinic where they learned how to go forwards and backwards, how to turn, and how to
get back on the board if they were to fall. Everyone then made their way onto the lake and
paddled to a small waterfall where the kids played in. Then they went to a beach on one of the
smaller islands and attempted yoga on the paddleboards. This was a big hit as the kids loved
trying something new and flipping into the water when they struggled. The group then played
king of the hill by trying to knock Holden off of the paddleboard, as it was his first trip with kids.
To get back at the kids, Holden would steal their paddles and race away so the kids had to try to
chase him. The group then paddled to this rock area where they got to jump off from a smaller
ledge, about 7 feet high, and a taller ledge, about 35 feet high. Some of the kids were scared to
jump so the guides had to talk them through it and even jump off with them. This is another
really rewarding part of being a guide because we get to encourage the kids to step out of their
comfort zones and do things they’ve never done before. They then paddled back to the beach for
lunch and the teaching. Holden did the teaching on creating and maintaining healthy friendships.
They then hung out at the beach, swimming and paddling around, until it was time to load up and
head back. The Mosaic kids helped put away the paddleboards and then the guides drove them
back. There were more games, karaoke, and lively conversation on the van ride back to drop off
the students. GOAT has been on roughly 5 trips with Mosaic so it has been fun to further the
relationships with their students through every trip and van ride.
Both trips got back to Mountain Goat around the same time so we all unloaded together then
headed into the shop to debrief with Sam, our program director. One of the perks of being a
guide is a free coffee/tea every day we work! We all usually wait until after the trip to get it and
chat about the day’s trip and the plan for tomorrow. After that we just hang out at the coffee shop
and do whatever we need to do. For example, I’ll usually work on schoolwork and blog posts,
Emily will edit photos (she is our photography intern), and Abbey, Hayden, and Holden typically
read – though we are usually not super productive because we just talk to each other. Eventually
our numbers slowly dwindle as people leave to make dinner, meet with friends, go to the
climbing gym, etc. and then we start over the next day.