HOW TO ACE GUIDE SCHOOL AND YOUR FIRST YEAR ON THE RIVER

by | March 26, 2019

Guide training is the first step to becoming a river guide. This week is essential for acquiring the skills and knowledge needed for the upcoming guide season. Boat control, understanding basic river hydrology, guest experience, and river safety are among the key lessons covered. Guides will not, nor are expected to, be experts in any of these categories upon completion of training; however, the techniques and information demonstrated are the fundamentals for a lifetime of continual progression as a guide and river-lover. 

The first day of guide school is full of excitement and nerves—both good things. All first year guides have different river backgrounds. Some have been around whitewater their entire lives, while others have yet to raft a river. Either way, it is okay. Every single person at training is already connected by one thing—a fondness for the river. 

The entire river community is a special place. It is difficult to find a more welcoming, encouraging, stoked(learn the word stoked prior to training) group of people. Every returning guide is eager to pass along their knowledge and experience to the newcomers. Welcome this information and it is shocking how quickly progression occurs. 

Perhaps the most intimidating yet fun part about training is navigating the boat with the oars. On the first day the oars may feel like an awkward eight-foot arm extension that cannot be controlled.  All good. Rowing is nonintuitive and will only get better with practice. By the end of training, every guide will be navigating rapids in style. 

One of the most difficult skills for a river guide to master is reading the river. This skill enables the guide to successfully navigate the river at almost any flow. Learning to read the river takes years to master and is best practiced by following the path of an experienced guide. Asking lots of questions is pertinent in developing an understanding of river hydrology. 

The most important goal of guide training is to develop relationships with the other guides. Like Rome, guides are not made in a matter of days; it takes time, mistakes, and constant learning. Experienced guides have copious amounts of river knowledge and tricks from years of being on the river; by forming solid relationships, inexperienced guides guarantee explosive progression throughout the season. 

Guiding is fun, and because of that, it is easy to show guests a fantastic time on the water. After all, that is the whole point. So join a guide school and become part of the best community on this earth.

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