A Quick Look At
Raft Guide Training
Have you ever thought of being a raft guide? You can learn the basics in a couple of weeks, but you will already need to be a competent paddler of at least class 2 rapids. Here’s a quick look at what else you’ll learn.
Work and Train with Us
One of our traditions is to invite new staff over for breakfast on their first day of work. We do this because it’s more than a job for us; it’s our passion, our profession and way of life. At both our locations there’s the Rafting House where we meet guests and have our operation. Owners and team members live in the Rafting Houses, too. This intimate setup shapes our guest service, our training and our team. When you work with us, you’re more than part of the team – you’re family. And as family, we genuinely care.
Part of The Family
New team members are always surprised that we care so much about their well-being. There are two reasons we do. First, as Richard Bach (author of Johnathan Livingston Seagull) says, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” Second, the members of our team are our most valuable asset. Even if you’re just here for a weekend Swiftwater Rescue Course, we always want to see you achieve, and are here to help.
At larger companies, it often takes a couple of seasons to do more than float trips. But train with us, and our goal is to teach you to read and navigate technical class 2/3 rivers, handle most scenarios and all kinds of guests. Being a raft guide is a very cool job, and paddling big water is always a rush, but we take this job seriously – and we expect the same from our team. Interested? Read the Want to Know More information, watch the video and send us an email with questions!
Want to Know More?
Every spring in Grande Cache, we run a 16-hour Swiftwater Rescue Course (Level I & II) through the Royal Lifesaving Society.
Our owner Johannes Zwart has taught Swiftwater Rescue since 2001 and has been a Raft Guide Examiner certifying guides since 2005. Besides our own staff and members of the public, he has certified members of the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Rangers and Search & Rescue.
The course is mandatory for guides to take, but it’s also open to the public. The course includes the following components. Watch the video or see the linked PDF for more details.
- Rescue philosophy & general rules
- Rescue organization: principles & procedure
- Prevention of emergencies
- The ladder approach & personal safety
- Self-rescue skills
- River crossings
- Offensive & defensive swim techniques
- Obstacles & entrapments
- Rescue equipment
- Throw bag use
- Rope systems & knots
- Mechanical rescue systems
- Use of rescue craft
- Emergency assessment & care
Our guides come from around the globe, bringing a wealth of experience with them. They have certified by one of the following organizations:
- Professional River Outfitters Association of Alberta
- BC River Outfitters Association
- International Rafting Federation
One of our owners Raft Guide Examiner in BC and Alberta. He’s also a Swiftwater Rescue Instructor who has been running courses since 2001. Besides our own staff and members of the public, we have also certified members of the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Rangers and Search & Rescue. We require our guides to have these additional certifications:
- Guides – First Aid, Trip Leaders – Wilderness First Aid or First Responder.
- Guides & Trip Leaders – Swiftwater Rescue
Do you have a winning combination of humour, solid paddling skills and guest care? Would you like to hone your guide skills on challenging, technical rivers? If that’s a yes, and you consider guiding a serious profession where your first job is always to keep guests as safe as possible, then you might be a good fit with our team.
Guiding rafts is only part of the business, and without our whole team, no one would get on the river. Other jobs and the skills we look for include:
- Shuttle Drivers: class 4 license, experience driving a standard 24-passenger bus hauling a trailer.
- Guest Services: friendly, computer-savvy, and impeccably organized!
Becoming a skilled raft guide is something you can’t shortcut. According to the PROAOA Standards, a class 3 guide certificate needs at least 50 hours of logged river time. Each half-day trip only provides about 1.5 hours, so if you’re interested in Raft Guide Certification, you must already be a competent paddler. As well as Guide Certification, our program includes incident response training. Staff also learn our Safety, Operation and Guest Services policies.
Our 14-day program is taught by a BCROA and PROAOA Raft Guide Examiner. Following industry-standard competencies, training takes place on a variety of rivers from class 2 to 4+ and includes 4 days on our overnight trip. There are also dryland days covering theory. Successful candidates get either BCROA or PROAOA raft guide certification (depending on the location they work) and are usually offered employment. Watch the video, read the linked PDF and contact us with questions via email.
- Identify specific features, obstacles and hazards for each specific river section.
- Safely navigate each specific river section using one or more of the following methods: paddle rafting, oar rafting. Navigation to include 1) effective avoidance of river obstacles and hazards, 2) safe eddy exits, 3) entries and maneuvers, 4) beaching a raft, securing it to shore.
- Participate in safely lining a raft through, or portaging a raft around, a section of the river.
- Deliver appropriate and consistent commands to guests in regards to navigation, games and rescue, exits for loading, unloading, riverside repairs and rescue scenarios.
- Competently inflate, rig, load and secure gear into a raft for a commercial trip.
- Deliver a complete safety briefing and demonstration as outlined in company policies and procedures.
- Demonstrate the ability to evaluate water and weather conditions; and knowledge of company policies.
- Safely load, secure, attach and tow equipment and trailers to vehicles as outlined in company policies.
- Demonstrate basic assessment and rescue response techniques.
- Demonstrate basic competency in the following rope and knot systems:
- Demonstrate the ability to 1) re-right a flipped raft, and 2) recover guests, in a moving current.
- Participate in the extrication of stuck, pinned and wrapped rafts.
- Demonstrate an effective response if paddles are lost, or an oar is broken.
- Participate in a river-based, casualty evacuation scenario.
- While piloting a raft, successfully rescue a guest from the following scenarios: 1) swimming in current, 2) foot entrapped, 3) caught in a hydraulic, 4) stranded mid-stream.
- Demonstrate effective use of first aid, safety and rescue equipment.
- Demonstrate a basic riverside repair to a raft.
- Demonstrate basic knowledge of river morphology, forces, characteristics, features, and terms.
- Demonstrate knowledge of company policies in regards to river obstacles and hazards.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the significance of raft order (lead, sweep, etc.).
- Demonstrate basic knowledge of industry and company safety standards, and standards in regards to licensing, certification and record keeping.
- Demonstrate knowledge of safe food handling methods required by company policies.
- Demonstrate knowledge of company policies and procedures in regards to wildlife.
- Demonstrate knowledge of company policies and procedures for guest safety in regards to guest equipment, required gear, guest suitability, guest behaviour, navigation, games and rescue, loading, unloading, riverside repairs and rescue scenarios.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the safety and rescue gear a guide is required to have on trips.
- Demonstrate knowledge of company policies and procedures in regards to vehicle safety, repair, maintenance and accidents.
- Demonstrate knowledge of any forms required by the company such as river logs, incident reports forms, etc., and demonstrate an understanding of when and how to fill out such forms.
- Demonstrate knowledge of policies and procedures in regards to first aid, safety and rescue equipment.
- Demonstrate knowledge of policies and procedures in regards to guest rescue, gear retrieval.
- Demonstrate knowledge of company evacuation procedures.
- Demonstrate knowledge of policies and procedures in regard to phone and/or radio use.
- Demonstrate knowledge of international river communication and any described in company policies.