Aikens Pro-Staff Guide Spotlight: Skip Durupt
Sep. 13, 2019
A dominant theme we hear from guests and staff alike is that Aikens exudes the feeling of a large family. Many factors contribute to that special atmosphere, chief among them the fact that many of our staff are in fact related. It’s pretty cool to see various family members choose to come work together at Aikens, and it certainly helps with building a dedicated staff that takes pride in our work.
Aikens pro-staff guide Skip (Justin) Durupt is one of those great hires and great staff members who came to work at Aikens after hearing about it from a family member. While he just completed his fourth season as a popular guide, he can still remember the day and the discussion that started it all: A conversation with his cousin, Patrick Trudel, at a family Christmas party.
“Pat knew I was of that age when working at Aikens could be a good summer job,” said Skip, who’s grandmother is Patrick’s aunt. “After dinner at Christmas, in the living room he started talking to a couple us about working at Aikens. I thought it sounded great. He said he could get me an interview, but he couldn’t get me the job. He wouldn’t have any say in me getting a job or not, so it would be up to me.”
All our Aikens staff go through the same application and interview process, and Skip was no exception. He enjoyed speaking with Pit and Julie in his initial interview, and hoped it went well. As it turned out, he made a good impression in the discussion and had another mutual contact besides Patrick.
“One of the guys I had listed as my reference was a former teacher of mine. Pit and I went to the same high school, and it turned out my reference had also been Pit’s teacher when Pit was a student there,” said Skip, who was impressed that Pit took the time to speak with his references. “My teacher vouched for me, and eventually I got the job. I was super excited.”
In the four years since, Skip’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned.
“How could you not love working here?” said Skip, who recalls special trips as a kid when his dad took him fishing at Pointe du Bois. “As a guide, I get to meet so many interesting people and spend the day in the boat with lots of great people. It’s also really cool to fish with the same group year over year, with repeat guests.”
Skip loves it all from the scenery to preparing shorelunches to seeing wildlife.
“Last year I saw a wolverine at the falls which was cool because they’re rare to see,” Skip said. “The night before, Pit and Julie were at the falls and Gibson (their dog), kept barking at something. The next night, I saw the wolverine and I wondered afterward if Gibson smelled it and that’s what he was barking at.”
Above all, his favorite thing is the camaraderie with his fellow Aikens staff.
“I’ve made a lot of long-time friends here,” he said, adding that Aikens has been a great development experience for him. “When I first got here I was this shy kid, and I didn’t know anybody (other than Patrick). Now I’m really comfortable here, and enjoy hanging out with everybody.”
“Skip does a great job and has grown a lot of over the years,” said Pit. “We’re lucky to have him on our staff – he’s someone everybody enjoys having on the team.”
Over the years, Skip’s fishing skills have also developed.
“My first year, I was fixated on jigging,” said Skip, whose favorite spot is The Saddle. “Now I’m confident there are other ways to catch walleyes, and sometimes another way is better than jigging.”
When he’s not working, Skip enjoys playing ping pong with his fellow staff members, citing a recent night when he played 9 consecutive games. While he plays and coaches hockey in the winter, he says that if he could represent Canada in the Olympics in any sport, he would choose ping pong.
The multi-talented 21-year-old is also a singer in a band that plays at various pubs and locales around Winnipeg, although he is very modest about it. “There are seven of us in the band, but only two of us can play an instrument.”
Needless to say, music nights at Big Molly’s with his friends and fellow staff members are always a highlight for Skip. Given the family feeling at Aikens, you’ll never guess who Skip recruited to Aikens to come sing, sweat and work alongside him …
His younger brother, Eric.