Orion Guide School - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-14-2015   #1
athelake's Avatar
Newman Lake, Washington
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 157
Orion Guide School

I'm new to this forum and I'm looking for some advice.

I'm an experienced sea kayaker and have spent several years in IKs, ww kayaks and have used a cat for day trips only. I've bought my first raft and I want to take a raft guide course this spring.

I've heard good things from a few people who have done the Orion guide school out of Leavenworth, WA. Has anyone here done a class with them or have any other recommendations for a class near Spokane, WA?

Thanks for any advice.

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Old 01-14-2015   #2
St. Anthony, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 18
I'd try asking around on Professorpaddle, its another boaters forum but a little more specific to the NW. Good luck!
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Old 01-14-2015   #3
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 52
Be wary when you are considering any company to take a guide school from. Most Cascade based river operation use their guide school for early revenue raising (buying equipment for the upcoming season) and replacement of seasoned guides that have moved on. If you are looking for a job, many will offer spots to a few of the top prospects for the season. You will get the spots that the returning guides don't want, can't fill, or know bad tipper. Most will move their operations where the water is and you are expected to follow, or are left on major money making rivers to do low water floats. Then there are the after float BBQs. You are expected to obtain a food handlers permit and while half the crew is doing boat work and cleaning gear you get to flip burgers and steaks. So if you are not looking for employment and are focused more on boat handling ask some questions. What does the school include? How many weekends? Any overnight trips? Swiftwater/whitewater rescue courses? (Most companies will claim that they do some sort of advanced river rescue classes but they will be basic anchor and Z drag systems.) You will not get a certificate which isn't a big deal. Most swiftwater courses are Firefighter/Rescue personal based, but if you are paying for the experience try and find a class that is not just taught by senior guides that will fill it with "there I was…" stories and find a company that actually hires outside instructors to teach rescue and medical/CPR portions. To my knowledge Orion does a decent job in most areas, teaching, getting the whole class on an overnight (Dechutes) trip, variation of day trip rivers, multi-day, and river side cooking/living. They would be the one I recommend for the cascade region. I have not worked for them but have for many of the other in the community. The other around I would not recommend due to the focus being more on getting new hires for their large float trips. If you are on the east side of WA, expand your search and look into some of the Idaho based companies. Personally, I feel that a more instructive program could be found with a company that does their training in a multi-day format which allows for a better understanding of the whole process. Feel free to contact me with questions.
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Old 01-14-2015   #4
athelake's Avatar
Newman Lake, Washington
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 157
Thanks Tripple! I have current SRT and EMT certs. I'm looking for raft training only. I'm too old to start a guiding career, although I will probably do a couple weekend trips with them in the summer for more practice.

I know a few people that have done the Orion training and they had positive things to say, I was just looking for more opinions. I appreciate your input.

Sweetwater, I registered for Professorpaddle. The site doesn't seem to be very active these days, but thanks for the suggestion.
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