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White Water Rafting Guide Training

In less than a month, Orion River Rafting's one-of-a-kind guide training will commence along the banks of the Deschutes River in north central Oregon. This season marks Orion's 33rd season of teaching complete novices the wonders of being on the river. Kenneth Grahame said it best in a much-loved quote from Wind in the Willows, "There is nothing--absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Our seven day spring river trip serves multiple purposes. Newcomers to river rafting are immersed in the trappings of what it means to be 'messing about in boats.' Instead of merely getting repetitions on one stretch of river, they are getting exposed to a new stretch of water every day. They are introduced to the whole wide realm of river rafting: rigging, camp craft, a diverse set of knots, rowing an oar boat, environmental stewardship, expedition travel, gear management, cooking for groups and cooking with Dutch Ovens and wilderness ethics.

At the same time, since the nature of our company's culture is so intrinsic to our ultimate success, and the creation of a fostering community is paramount, a week long river rafting trip provides the student with a chance to evaluate who we are and gives our instructors ample opportunity to assess the students strengths and weaknesses. On Orion's River Rafting Guide Training course, besides the students and the instructors, there are a dozen or so returning guides who are there to lend support, add encouragement and reinforce the training of the veteran staff. In fact, most of Orion's guide training students are referrals from veteran staff --- family, friends, guests, significant others.

Our instructors bring, not only dozens and dozens of years of white water experience to the program, but a depth and breadth of river running experience from having plied their trade the world over --- New Zealand, Peru, Bali, Costa Rica, Turkey, Chile and Belize to name a few --- guiding rafts and even managing and building foreign rafting companies. Orion River Rafting's trainers not only contribute their vast white water knowledge to the thorough instruction of new guides, they bring decades of experience to this week of skill- and team-building.

In short, Orion's students get to take part in a program dripping with tradition while being spontaneous and fun. They get to learn the 'big picture' of river rafting and decide for themselves if their romantic notions of guiding coincide with the reality.

Or, are maybe even better than they imagined.

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Spring River Guide Training

Time to sign up if you want to be a guide, or if you just want to feel comfortable on the river on your own.
Only a few weeks away from our annual seven day guide training odyssey on the Deschutes River in north central Oregon and - as the senior instructor - I am beginning to feel the undertow of another river season.

Orion's guide training course kicks off every whitewater season and is comprised of seasoned and salty veterans, women and men, wide-eyed whitewater neophytes, those who revel in the adversity and those who are challenging their ordinary state of being, whatever that may be.

It is a time for ditching cellphones and the comfort of our creature habits.  Sharing and laughing and looking one another in the eye.  Being physically present have to be to deal with the circumstances of being out amidst the elements.  Setting up tarps in windstorms and cooking over fires.

It will be a memorable trip.  Even for those of us participating in it for the 40th time.

River Rafting is Good for You

I have been rafting for a long time.

My first rafting experience was in the fall of my first year in college.  As a matter of fact, after matriculation, it was the very next thing I did.  The river rafting trip, regarded as my wilderness orientation to Prescott College, was a month long affair.

One month in the wilderness after having spent the majority of my life in well-ordered suburbs where my primary contact with the outdoors involved sports.

You can imagine it was an eye-opener in a number of ways.

My wilderness orientation, which took place over four decades ago, brought me serendipitously to this place.

Overnight raft trips are the single easiest method to 'leave it all behind.'  The 'behind' we referred to leaving used to just mean the traffic and the stressors of modern day life, ringing phones, the hustle and bustle of humanity and bills coming due, responsibilities to uphold.

Now, we are saddled with the ubiquity of always being connected to what is going o…

The Phenomena of People

I do not have a river story for you this week, but I had a visit from a good friend from Bellingham and our reunion reminded me of one of the other reasons I have persevered with this little cottage industry.

I wrote a story a few years back titled "Why I (Continue to) Raft" and the gist of that column was that I realized how much I enjoyed getting people out on the water and watching the transformation.  It ended with the brief tale of my very young nephew from Dallas who floated the Skagit and - at first - was terrified of the moving, darn-cold-if-you're-from-Texas water.  And, despite being on a trip surrounded by a large Y group of boisterous Northwesterners who could not get enough of swimming, it appeared he would endure the trip and be ecstatic to see the takeout and a warm, dry car.

When we were halfway down the river, his entire attitude did an about face.  And by the time we hit the takeout he WAS ecstatic, but not about being finished and back to dry land.  …