To be a white water rafting guide all you need is to love the sport and have the skills. Right? Not really. A raft guide, the term used for white water rafting guides, undergoes several training courses before they can guide a group out onto a white water river.
The training courses depend largely on a person’s skill level. However, there are certain minimum requirements a trainee or a newbie must have before they begin the course. Basic First Aid and CPR Certifications are required prior to any training. You do have to remember that, as a guide, you basically have the safety and health of your passengers on your hand.
The entire training course will depend on the training school you join. Generally, 2 to 3-weeks of training for first year raft guides should be expected. During these weeks, trainees undergo training in several basic skills that a raft guide should possess.
Basic skills training includes introduction to white water rafting and what is required to be a raft guide. Some guide courses include the history of the sport as well as the history of their location to help trainees understand how important training is. This is probably the longest time you will spend on dry land, since raft guide training is done mostly in the river.
Also part of basic skills training is learning how to read the water. This is an important part of the training because you will be faced with situations where you have to decide if it is safe to go through a rapid or not. Basic training includes knowing how to steer strokes, right a flipped boat, “unwrap” a boat, and how to use and care for all the raft equipments.
Safety and Rescue Training
Since your workspace can be dangerous, safety and rescue training is needed as well. Safety procedures during a trip, river rescue and emergency procedures are taught. Another important part of this training course is learning how to rescue swimmers and how to self-rescue. You will also be taught on how to swim rapids. Even if you are a skilled swimmer who has knowledge in water rescue, you do have to remember that the conditions in a white water river are entirely different than that of the ocean or the pool. River flow and hazards are also discussed.
A raft guide training course would not be complete without wilderness training. Part of this course includes camping skills and river conservation knowledge. Camping skills include cooking in the wilderness for a group as well as proper clean-up after. Since most rafting companies provide full day and multi-day trips which require you and your passengers to stay over, training on wilderness camp preparation is needed.
To pass the raft guide training course expect to spend at least 50 hours in the river. At least 30 hours should be with a qualified guide instructor on the same training raft and 20 hours with a qualified instructor on the same training trip. Additional certifications like Wilderness First Aid and Emergency Medical are encouraged as well.