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How to Become a Whitewater Rafting Guide

Are you looking for great summer jobs in Tennessee? Then listen up, because this one may seem too good to be true. How would you like to get paid to do something you already love — whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River? Every year, we encourage students and other young people to take a guide training course to come work for us at Raft1. 

This challenging yet rewarding job provides all sorts of benefits. In addition to earning money, you will get to spend your summer outside, enjoying the sun and adventure while other people your age sling burgers inside a hot, dingy restaurant. Read on to learn how you can become a whitewater rafting guide and to discover answers to your other questions about this fun and rewarding endeavor. 

Why Take a Whitewater Rafting Training Course to Become a Guide?

We’ll be honest with you. This is really the best summer job you will ever have. 

Sure, we’re a little biased, but we also have watched many young people come to Raft1 over the years and have the time of their lives guiding expeditions, having fun outside and learning a little about themselves in the process. 

Why take a job where you have to be cooped up inside all summer when you can be out in nature, enjoying the sun on your back and the splash of the rapids on your face? We have found this is the ideal job for a range of personality types: 

  • Are you a wannabe educator, someone hoping to become a teacher? Leading expeditions will help you hone your presentation skills. 
  • Are you a natural leader with a gregarious personality? You can connect with so many new people across the course of the summer. 
  • Are you someone who likes to stay in control at all times? Maybe it’s time to challenge yourself by letting go and heading wherever the raft takes you. 

Every year at the end of the summer, our seasonal guides are sad to go. It’s an awesome and rare thing when your job is also something you enjoy, and when you work for Raft1, you’ll be lucky enough for that to be true. 

Am I Qualified to Become a Whitewater Rafting Guide? 

To qualify as a whitewater guide, you will need to fulfill a few basic criteria. Being a raft guide is a physically demanding job. You will need to lift the rafts and haul them to the river. You should be able to lift about 50 pounds comfortably. 

All guides must be over age 18. We do not, by law, allow any exceptions to that rule. 

You should be a strong swimmer, and you must be a comfortable public speaker. You will be giving instructions to groups who need to be able to hear and understand what you say. 

One thing you do not need is experience. While it’s certainly helpful if you have worked as a guide before, it’s not necessary. Some of our best guides came to us out of high school and simply showed a knack for the job. Others took some time to get comfortable but developed into outstanding guides. There’s no one path to Raft1, and we talk to people from many backgrounds and locations. 

What Does Whitewater Raft Guide Training Consist Of? 

Our training program encompasses a number of different safety and practical aspects. We want our guides to be prepared to face anything out on the water. We go over every possible scenario that could arise, from problems with the boat to ill or injured rafters to weather-related calamities. It can be a lot to take in and a little intense. We do this on purpose. 

We’d rather give our guides too much information than too little. The more they know and understand, the better they will cope with unexpected issues that pop up. The majority of our whitewater tours go smoothly. The guides act as helpful assistants but don’t have to perform any major heroics. But there are the occasional times when a wrench gets tossed into the works. Our guides need to be ready to handle this. 

Many of our guides are young, but we put a lot of trust in them. We believe young people are smart, capable and responsible, and we’re happy to have them as part of our team. That’s why we want them to get as much training as possible. 

What to Expect at Whitewater Rafting Guide School

We offer situational training for our guides, challenging them to determine the best response in different circumstances. But we also offer raft guide training in other safety-focused arenas. In fact, we make them take more training than the state of Tennessee requires because our rafters’ safety is so important to us. We demand our guides to be certified in: 

  • First Aid
  • CPR

We also ask them to take the Swiftwater rescue training course. Swiftwater serves the military special forces as well as a host of other organizations throughout the nation. To us, having our guides take this type of training provides extra peace of mind. We want them to feel as though they can take on any test out on the water, and this training will give them the tools they need to do just that. 

Benefits of Becoming a Whitewater Rafting Guide

We said earlier this is the best summer job you will ever have, and we meant it. You can reap so many benefits from becoming a guide with Raft1. Here are some of the top reasons why people come back to us summer after summer to do this job: 

  • It’s fun: This is certainly the most important reason so many guides return. Most jobs are not fun. While you will need to do some physical labor and you won’t have time to slack off, you will enjoy yourself the whole time.
  • It’s physically demanding: You can sit at a desk for the rest of your life. Take advantage of the chance to be physically active on the job while you can, because most people eventually end up pursuing other paths for their careers. 
  • It’s mentally challenging: Whitewater rafting requires problem-solving. Sometimes that’s figuring out the best course to steer the raft, and sometimes that’s facilitating a clash of personalities in your raft. Your brain will constantly stay engaged. 
  • It’s outdoors: It’s impossible to overemphasize how important being outside can be for your psyche. If you are a college student, it’s a chance to get out of the classroom and really enjoy nature. 
  • It’s a great way to make friends: We employ a lot of young guides, and they bond as they go through the training process. By the end of the summer, many of them have forged friendships that will last for years to come. 
  • It’s a way to help people: Rafting is not a solitary pursuit. It all requires guiding, whether you take people down a short course or you go for an overnight. Teamwork is the key to a great rafting experience, and as a guide, you can help facilitate that. 

Why Choose Raft1 From the Many Outdoor Jobs in Tennessee? 

Our jobs are fun for a reason, and the reason is that we’re pretty fun ourselves. That’s not bragging. That’s just how it is at Raft1. We have a good time, and the way we do that happens to be carrying out our jobs. Dusty ensures everyone stays on task, but that doesn’t mean there’s no laughter or joy. In fact, there’s a lot of it. 

Raft1 feels like a family, and it acts like one, too. We’re not your aloof uncle or your overbearing grandma, though. We’re your cool older sibling, and we think of you like younger siblings we can teach but also respect. We see our guide jobs as stepping stones for most of the people who come to us. They aren’t interested in being a guide for life, but they realize they can learn a lot of hugely valuable lessons on the job. We try to help them discover those. 

Raft1 also has the best reputation on the Ocoee River. If you want to work at a place known for its expertise and professionalism, as well as its penchant for fun, then Raft1 will be the right fit. 

Apply for a Job as a Whitewater Rafting Guide Today

Are you ready for the most exciting summer of your life? Then you should apply for one of our guide positions. Spots in the training courses fill up fast, and you need to make a commitment to the program as soon as possible to get in. 

You deserve a summer to enjoy being outside in the wilderness, as you view beautiful scenery while you guide the raft. Contact us today for more information on becoming a guide and to hear about our training options. We look forward to meeting you. 

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