Becoming a River Rafting Guide

You have caught yourself on multiple occasions gazing out the window, daydreaming about the beautiful weather outside. You love learning hard skills and putting them to practice. You enjoy being with other people, both as co-workers and as friends. You jump at the opportunity to be outdoors.

You are the perfect raft guide.

Becoming a raft guide is easy if you answered yes to any of these questions. The simple desire to be working outside is often enough for a person to decide to become a raft guide. The river calls people for many different reasons. Many new raft guides enjoy leadership roles and sharing their love for the outdoors with others. Other new guides seek the adrenaline rush of a new sport. While other new raft guides are drawn to the welcoming rafting community that spans the globe.

Whitewater river raft guide with clients while whitewater rafting

Beginning a job on the river starts with taking a guide training course. Many outfitters offer this type of course to their new guides at the start of every new season. This way the company can see how well you are learning the skills and place you in the best possible position.

Some new raft guides wish to keep their current employment and only raft guide on the weekends or during time off. Many guide schools understand this and are offered over the course of several weekends. Others are more concise, spanning over a few weeks of daily training exercises. No matter what your schedule, there is a guide training program that will work for you.

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While raft guiding works perfectly as a second job, you will soon find yourself waving goodbye to the 9-5.

During a raft guiding school your instructors will teach you everything you need in order to be a successful raft guide. The only thing you need to bring in a sense of adventure and willingness to learn. You will get practice on dry-land with hard skills like preparing the rafting equipment and tying knots. Logistical procedures will also be covered at this time. This involves every step of a raft trip, from the moment a guest checks-in to when they drive away.

Many training days will be spent on the water going over rescue drills and working on controlling a raft. For those with minimal experience, this begins in easier rapids, often with one-on-one instruction. As you begin to understand how to read the currents in the river and navigate through a rapid, you will move on to serve as the raft captain.

These programs also place great emphasis on proper guest relations. This begins with welcoming the guests and helping them to properly prepare for their river trip. As a raft guide, you are instructed on ways to provide the best overall experience possible for your guests. You will show them how to be most comfortable on the water and help them understand what to expect once on the river.

In addition to a guide training school, many outfitters require new guides to log multiple trips to gain real experience. During these trips, the new guide is only an additional guide, able to learn from more experienced raft guides in a real trip scenario.

Once you have acquired the proper first-aid and CPR certifications (usually included in the guide training school), you are officially a raft guide.

However, to become a river raft guide you will not only learn new skills but also a new way of life.

Raft guide training will open your eyes to the relaxed, yet challenging lifestyle of a raft guide. Many guides find themselves traveling to other rivers as a group to experience different environments, towns and river cultures. You will begin to see that the river rafting community is not only on the river you work at but all over the world. Once you become a raft guide, you are instantly accepted into this community. This network of adventure-loving individuals eventually becomes a family for new raft guides, providing an indescribable feeling of connection to others and to nature.

Becoming a raft guide might be the best decision you will ever make.

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