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Our River Family

Our River Family

Our River Family

No one is sure when we started calling the staff our ‘River Family,’ but it sure stuck. It’s the people who answer the phone or respond to emails, wash wetsuits and enthusiastically welcome you when you arrive. It’s the owners, their children, raft guides, other staff, volunteers and even guests who come so often they become part of our River Family, too.

Our success today is mainly due to many people believing in what we were doing and helping us. Some only stayed for a season, but others were with us for years. Their willingness to do whatever it took, no matter how crazy it seemed, is remarkable, and we are deeply grateful.

Also fondly referred to as ‘Crazy River Staff,’ our team has been a wide variety of nationalities and personalities over the years. Below are the current members of the River Family and a little bit of their story. To all the members of our River Family across the world, thank you. We hope to one day paddle and laugh with you again.

What Training Do Rafting Guides Have?

To learn more about the training and certification our guides have, or if you’re interested in joining our team, check our Employment & Training page.

Meet Fabian, Our Grande
Cache River Manager

Fabian is from Chile, and is a Trip Leader and the River Manager in our Grande Cache location. He’s been part of the River Family since 2017.

Meet the Family

Johannes Zwart (Yo)

Co-Owner & River Guide

Co-owner Johannes Zwart, or Yo as he’s usually known, has nearly 30 years of experience as a guide: canoeing, dog-sledding, rafting and many other skills, make him a well-rounded Team Leader. Yo also has a Kinesiology degree from Western, and a diploma from the prestigious adventure tourism program at University College of the Caribou (now Thompson Rivers University). He trains and certifies most of our guides.

Gina Goldie

Owner, River Guide & Entrepreneur

Gina has almost 30 years as an entrepreneur. The resulting strong business skills complement her professional career as a graphic designer, content developer and marketing wizard. More than that, when Gina is not on the phone helping you with your trip, or managing the office, she may be taking a group down the river as an intermediate level guide.

Freeman Wasdal

Globe-Trotting River Guide

Freeman started rafting when he was 5… because his mom started a rafting company! He’s been working for Wild Blue Yonder ever since (well, maybe since he was 10). A river guide since 2010, Freeman has trained and worked on the Ottawa River, the Colorado River (yes, in the Grand Canyon!), the Rio Pacure in Costa Rica, the Tully River in Australia, and on rivers in Patagonia and Morocco! During the winter months, Freeman can often be found trotting around the globe.

Hywel Williams

Content Creator & Social Media

Originally from South-East England, Hywel is a professional photographer living year-round in Revelstoke, BC. It may have been the allure of snowboarding that got him to Canada, but the endless possibility for adventure kept him here. Always striving to use his camera to tell compelling stories, Hywel is our head content creator and social media coordinator. He joined our team mid-pandemic by creating remarkable content in Revelstoke, which has been featured by Revelstoke Tourism and the Kootenays Rockies DMO.

Cory Biesel

River Family Raft Guide

Cory has been river guide with Wild Blue Yonder since 2003. One day a young guy in a toque, fresh from the College of the Rockies, walked up to us at a trade show and asked for a job. Cory has long been a member of the Wild Blue Yonder family, and has also guided canoe trips, rock climbing, caving and canyoneering. As lovable as he is talented, Cory truly has a passion for running rivers and showing people a great time!

Sam Laberge

Trip Leader, Guide

Samuel is passionate about the outdoors and all water environments! When he’s not on a raft, you can find him at the swimming pool, on a paddleboard, climbing, or hiking. His love of the water has propelled his travels all around the world. During his stays overseas, Sam gained a variety of experiences and skills as a rafting guide. He has worked on the Barron River in Ontario, Penrith Whitewater Stadium in Australia, and he guided in Nepal with Ultimate Descent before coming back to Canada. These days, his favourite way to explore the water is on his paddleboard.

Kylie Burns

River Manager, Trip Leader, Guide

Kylie grew up in the Northern Ontario community of Lake Temagami, where she spent her summers canoeing and exploring the surrounding area. Her passion for the outdoors led her to pursue an education in Adventure Tourism at Thompson River University, where she attended the guide training program. Since graduating in 2018, Kylie has led canoe trips throughout Northern Ontario in the James and Hudson Bay lowlands. She spent two summers guiding on the Fraser River, located at the base of Mount Robson. Kylie has a passion for the water that extends beyond her professional career, and on her days off, you can find her kayaking on local rivers.

Aura Magnien

Actor, Administration, Marketing, Junior Guide

Aura comes to us from Vancouver Island, where she studies Theatre at the University of Victoria. This year she works both in the office and on the river as our Pirate Captain and as a Junior Guide. When she’s not singing songs and searching for buried treasure, she helps out with booking, scheduling, and keeping our social media up-to-date. Her previous river experience was on the Madre de Dios in Peru, where she volunteered at a jungle conservation center. When she’s not working, you can find her hiking, camping, travelling, reading, and playing the ukulele.

Anna Foley

Guide, Administration, Operations

Anna is a Raft Guide and Office Assistant in both our Grande Cache and Revelstoke locations this summer! Originally from Ontario, Anna grew up canoeing on rivers across the province every year. Following a crazy month-long paddling trip on the Moisie River in Quebec, the Explorer Program produced her love for whitewater rivers. After working as an Outdoor Instructor and Guide in Canada and Australia, she is currently a student in the distinguished Adventure Studies Program at Thompson Rivers University. You can typically find Anna outside – hiking, camping, kayaking, skiing and rock climbing all over British Columbia!

Christopher Schmidt

Guide, Operations

Originally from Southern BC, Chris had many job titles before considering adding “Raft Guide” to the list. After graduating, Chris moved up to the Grande Cache area. He began working as a logger, oilfield labourer, wildland firefighter, construction worker, and horse wrangler before a friend started asking him to drive the shuttle and assist with prep work for his rafting company. Soon after beginning base work, Chris found himself in the oars, taking advice and teaching himself how to guide the river. Chris comes to us with a wide variety of outdoor experiences, and he feels passionate about being in nature and respecting the natural world.

Douglas Trask

Shuttle Bus Driver, Operations

BC born and raised, “Captain Doug,” as he’s known to us, is in charge of Big Blue Bus- the transportation vessel to the rafting experience. Doug is no stranger to the waterways and has sailed to 42 countries and 212 ports worldwide. Captain Doug knows every scallywag across the seas and has found all the best places to harbour on a voyage. When Doug isn’t sailing, he spends his time recording music in Nashville and Calgary. Though he loves his international adventures, he keeps coming back home to beautiful British Columbia.

Karen Pachet

Shuttle Bus Driver, Operations

Karen is our shuttle bus driver, cleaner, and odd-job lady. Originally from Winnipeg, at age 40, Karen sold everything and left her 9 to 5 life behind for good. Beginning with a six-year stay in South America, Karen travelled to Galapagos, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. She then spent three years volunteering at an animal refuge in Bolivia, focusing on ocelots and birds. For the last ten years, Karen has been living between BC and Grande Cache. When not embarking on bicycle trips, you can often find Karen singing karaoke in a wig and fancy dress. She plans to return to Bolivia in the fall, and with luck, she’ll be back next summer.