At Helfrich River Outfitters, our legacy extends beyond the thrill of navigating rivers—it’s deeply intertwined with impacting people’s lives. Since getting started in 1922, our family business has had the honor of making a difference in not only the lives of our wonderful guests but in the well-being of our amazing guides. Going beyond rivers and rapids, we prioritize the people who make these journeys possible. This commitment has led us to a profound partnership with The Redside Foundation, an organization dedicated to uplifting the guiding community.

Our Involvement with The Redside Foundation:

As a fourth-generation river outfitting company, we understand the unique challenges our guides face in navigating their personal lives in this unique industry. This understanding drives our involvement with The Redside Foundation, where our own Kelsey Helfrich serves on the board. Our connection with the foundation isn’t just professional; it’s personal. We see the foundation’s mission as an extension of our own—ensuring that every guide has access to the support they need, be it for health, education, or personal development.

The Guiding Life: A Dream with Demands:

At Helfrich River Outfitters, we recognize that the guiding life, while rewarding, comes with its set of challenges. Guiding is an awe-inspiring profession—our guides live what many would consider a dream, especially during the river season. They revel in the great outdoors, taking on exhilarating rapids, and sharing the beauty of nature with others. These moments are filled with endorphin highs, abundant sunshine, and the joy of introducing guests to the splendors of the river.

The Hidden Rigors of Guiding:

Yet, this idyllic picture is just one side of the coin. The truth is, guiding is incredibly hard work. It involves long hours, constant mental engagement, and the physical demands of navigating the wilderness. Guides often spend extended periods away from family and friends, facing the elements day in and day out. As physically and mentally challenging the season may be, it’s not typically during the bustling season that guides require the most support—it’s afterward.

The Off-Season: A Vulnerable Time:

When the season ends, the high of adventure fades into quieter days. The camaraderie of tight-knit crews gives way to farewells. The steady income dries up, vitamin D levels drop, and the days get shorter and colder. The uncertainty of what comes next can be daunting. This is the time when the feelings of isolation can intensify, and the need for support becomes paramount. It is during these moments of transition and reflection that guides need to feel supported more than ever.

The Redside Foundation’s Impact

The Redside Foundation’s work is multifaceted, mirroring the diverse needs of outdoor guides:

Health and Wellness: Providing mental and physical healthcare, including substance abuse counseling, addresses the often-overlooked aspect of a guide’s life.

24/7 Support: Their confidential helpline is a testament to their commitment to being there for guides at any hour.

Educational and Professional Growth: Scholarships and grants from the foundation help guides grow professionally, aligning with our ethos of continual learning.

Community Building: Events like guide health fairs foster a sense of community, echoing our belief in the power of collective strength.

Our Role and Contribution:

In addition to the yearly donations from Helfrich Outfitters and the Helfrich Family, we have initiated a program that allows not just for our guests to contribute but also to help spread awareness for The Redside Foundation. With an optional donation included on each invoice, our guests have the opportunity to directly support guides in their times of need. It’s inspiring to witness the strong connections that form between our guests and guides.  Over the years, numerous guests, touched by the dedication of their guides, have chosen to make contributions. This robust support network that includes both guests and guides goes far beyond what we could have envisioned, creating a powerful force for positive change within the guiding community.


At Helfrich River Outfitters, we’re more than just a business; we’re a family, a community, and a support system for our guides. Our partnership with The Redside Foundation is a cornerstone of our commitment to the guiding community. Together, we’re not just navigating rivers; we’re navigating the path to a healthier, more supported, and empowered guiding community.

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