Raft Guides are an essential part of any rafting experience. Although experienced paddlers can go rafting on their own, if you are going with a rafting company you will probably have a river guide in the boat with you. The guide will sit in the back of the raft and help to steer the boat. They will also instruct the paddlers on what to do since it takes the entire crew to move and maneuver a raft. Each professional guide has plenty of whitewater experience, and each guide has probably run each section of the river multiple times so that they know the river well enough to guide you and your crew through it.
Raft guides have qualifications that insure that you have a safe, educational and unforgettable trip. Guides are trained in first aid, CPR, river rescue procedures, and other safety and survival skills. Training entails filling the required number of Division of Natural Resources runs down the river and classroom sessions that focus on history, state flora and fauna, Safety Afloat (a Boy Scouts program), swiftwater rescue and wilderness first aid certification. The state of West Virginia requires that raft guides have 15 training trips and 2 Evaluation trips but most people need close to 30 trips to see the river at all its water levels, learn to direct a full size raft and navigate around the other watercraft that will also be on the river with you.
Rafting companies put safety as a top priority and make sure that all of their guides understand the safety procedures necessary on the river. Can’t swim or have any other challenges that may seem hard to face during a rafting experience? All rafters are required to wear life vests, but if you inform your raft guide of your setbacks they will make certain you have the safest rafting experience while also having a blast out on the beautiful waters!
Some companies offer trips that use one or two person rafts called duckies. Since you could be the only person in your ducky, you won’t have a guide in your boat at that time. Instead the guide will be nearby in their own boat to lead the trip.
A raft guides job is not an easy one; it requires a certain passion and a special person. Raft guides are enthusiastic about the river, rafting, keeping passengers safe, controlling situations, challenging rafters, education and making your rafting experience one of a kind. Be sure you listed to yours and follow the instructions given when you go out for a whitewater rafting experience!