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Old 07-27-2004   #1
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32
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I want to be a raft guide when I grow up!

I am about to finish school in December with a degree in business, so I guess its time to grow up. I dont see myself in the corporate world and for sure dont want a "real job" when I get out of school. I would like to be a raft guide next summer. What is a good place to do it? What do you need in terms of certifications to be a raft guide. What do I not need but should have to better my chances? Also, I really want to travel to central and south america. What are my chances of getting a guiding job down there with no guide experience. I have experience on the river, just not as a guide. Thanks.

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Old 07-28-2004   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 81
December – April: Copper Mountain Ski Pass, $250
April – May: Guide course, $300
May – August: First year raft guide, +$65 / day
August – September: Gauley, $0.20 / mile
September – forever: Costa Rica, priceless

If that doesn’t float your boat, find an outfitter that will reimburse your guide school after the first or second year, get your SRT, and start demanding more buck for your, well, bang. You will win a lot of points & an invite back if you stick out a whole summer in CO. You can winter in the south (America), and summer in the Rockies. Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you can’t be a vagabond… Tassel on the left, guide stick on the right – you’ll be fine.

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
---- Yoda
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Old 07-28-2004   #3
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
Spencer, since when did you become such a great motivational speaker! Drop me a line...
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 07-28-2004   #4
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 245
I don't know if it's still the same, but the companies around the gauley used to run you thru their own guide class for a month around march before the real season got started, it was butt cold, and you were there all week starting at six at the latest, but it was free, and as far as I've seen, having guided the gauley can get you in at alot of places.

course that means moving to WV for awhile... but at least rent's cheap!!
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Old 07-28-2004   #5
Eagle, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 281
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Colorado requires 50+ hours of training by a certified instructor...local companies, like timberline tours, offer this class in may. you also must have, per the state, first aid and cpr, although WFR and/or EMT training is a plus. Swiftwater Rescue isn't required by the state, but is required by most companies. This course is offered almost everywhere, but most companies will offer an in-house class after training. Your first year as a guide is the roughest, but with the right contacts and good experience, if you stick it out and work your ass off, you can get work wherever you want to go. Did i say experience and contacts. I think those are the two best ways to get r done. I've been a guide for about 8 years and have worked in West Virginia and Colorado primarily, although I have picked up work on road trips in Idaho and Cali, as well...I have a piece of paper that says I earned a BA several years ago. It was a good experience and I don't know where the piece of paper went, but it's funny how many raft guides have a degree in something. Your kayaking will help, too. Many companies don't use a safety boater unless they are also a guide (there are exceptions) and kayaking will help you to read the water from a different light. Hope this helps.

Alpine Arms
Team Dagger
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Old 07-29-2004   #6
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 384
Raft guiding is for tools. Weeee! Browns Canyon rules!
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Old 07-29-2004   #7
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in a van down by the river, California
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 126
have fun and good luck

hopefully you love sitting on your butt in a raft watching kayakers rip by, cause that is a reality of being a guide.
To make your plan work, either start with $$ in the bank or be prepared to live poor and happy.
(first eliminate all your debts, then become a guide, cause you aint paying off no loans as a raft guide, but you will likely be taking out a few.)
Now go get some stick time.
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Old 07-30-2004   #8
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 127
I've never been a raft guide so I can't give you advice on that but I can tell you something about earning a degree and then going to play. I got a degree from the university of michigan and then headed west. I wanted to ski for one season and headed to montana. Got 120+ days of skiing in fell in love with the area and the lifestyle and that one season turned into 5 seasons of skiing everday working at night bartending and waiting tables to make money and keep my days free. You said you guess you got to grow up. No you don't, you can learn how to play the rest of your life. You'll grow up in certain ways but stay young at heart. Plenty of my friends skied in the winter and then raft guided in the summer on first the yak and then middle fork of the flathead. Like others have said you definitely don't get rich doing it but then you'll have more fun than any of your friends working 9-5 jobs and they will all be jealous. People used to ask me after they heard I had a degree when I was going to get a real job. Usually they were on vacation and I just heard them sit at the bar and recount how happy they were to be on vacation and how they hated their job. I'd just look at them and say why do I want a real job when I'm happy and doing what you do for your vacation every day. I did eventually go back and get a teaching certificate and I'm now teaching school but I spent 5 years skiing and playing every day and then went back and spent a 6th season before I started teaching. I would never change what I did for a minute and would definitely recommend it to many. And now I still get 3 months of vacation time and can paddle everyday. Enjoy your life remember some people live to work and others work to live. Good luck with your raft career and if you have any interest of trying it up in Montana I still know several raft guides that would be happy to give you a job.
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Old 07-30-2004   #9
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32
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I dont mind living on the poor side. I dont want to do it for the money. My views are the same as yours vardaddy. Ive been stuck in school for twenty years and now I want to go enjoy life. My plans change every day because there are so many things that I want to do when I graduate. If I do get a 'real job' one day it will probably be my own business. I know I only live once and this is the only time in my life ill be able to do it. All of the opportunities excite me. We'll see what happens. Raft guiding is only one of my options so Im just trying to figure out what I have to do if I decide to go that route. Any way have a good weekend everyone.
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Old 07-31-2004   #10
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 115
Matt, follow your heart and enjoy life. I got my first "real" job at 40. I did the raft guide/kayak instructor in the summer and ski patrol as well as sea kayak guide (Mexico) in the winter for >20 years. I decided to get my RN (degree in 2 yrs) for a change of routine and to be able to work as a nurse for expeditions. I may not make tons of cash but I am really happy with lots of time off to play and I will always have a job anywhere in the world.
Good luck and live life with passion!

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