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Meet Your River Rafting Guide

River rafting guides are like a box of chocolates.

Well, they are like a box of chocolates in that you never know what you are going to get in terms of specific personalities, but they are also like our almost famous and favorite cast iron Dutch Oven recipe - chillaquiles.  Sometimes referred to as Mexican lasagna.

Steady as rain, as far as their concern for their clients and their safety-first attitudes, but, depending on the guide chef, full of a variation on a theme.

Are these guides really at work?

River rafting guides can be young or old - I'm sorry - green or weathered, trim and fit or slightly doughy and sloth-like, neatly trimmed or scruffy and unkempt, concerned about their appearance or completely unconcerned about their appearance.  In other words, they come in a wide range of physical packages.  Long gone are the days of guides reminiscent of fur trapping mountain men like Jeremiah Johnson.

The guides who work for Orion River Rafting come to the river from all walks of life.  Drawn by their enthusiasm to introduce people to what it is like to 'mess about in boats'.  Lured by their sense of adventure and their natural inclination to be leaders.  Enticed by their love of the outdoors and their desire to be a part of a community.

Some have grand kids, a few only recently received their high school diplomas.  Some own businesses of their own, some administrate large groups of employees at well-known corporations.  Some invest their whole summer river rafting rivers around the Northwest, some are weekend warriors.  Some just show up for the spring high water, some prefer the lesser classes of rivers.

Caution:  Guide at Work

There are engineers, software programmers, plumbers, nurses, lawyers, contractors, electricians, teachers and professors.  Entrepreneurs, small engine mechanics, salespeople, emergency medical technicians, pharmacologists, ski patrollers and baristas.  In brief, river rafting guides come from as many differing occupations as our guests themselves.

Few of them fall under the complimentary pejorative of being called "dirt bags" anymore.  Few of them earn their livings year-round river rafting.  Although it is possible with the development of the global river running industry.

When you raft with Orion, odds are just as good you will have a female guide because it seems with each passing generation the idea of guides needing to be hulking and hirsute diminishes.  We also tend to find women more understanding of the 'empathy' factor in guiding which I wrote about in a previous post.

Regrettably, we do not have wide range of ethnic groups represented within our guide staff or the industry as a whole.  Each year we hope that tide might change through our guide training sign ups.

River rafting guides are individuals capable of making autonomous decisions but required to work together as a team.  Leaders and followers all at once.  Their forte might be telling entertaining jokes or medical know-how.  A prowess in the kitchen or a mind for logistics.  An ability to get the 'big picture' or a photographic memory for rocks and bends and waves.

So, on your next river trip, if you are wondering what your guide will be like, the only thing I can tell you for sure is - they have your best interest at heart, they are safety-conscious and they believe that a bad day on the river is better than a good day at the office.

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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.

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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.

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