Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Whitewater Challengers River Guide
Interested in becoming a river guide? Call Marc Brown on the Guide Hotline at 570-443-9728.
Thanks for checking out our Lehigh River Guide Training Program! We’re always happy to add enthusiastic, guest-friendly people to our seasoned staff of river professionals. Some of our guides have been with us since the 1970’s. Others started working here just a few months ago. It’s a splendid mix of experience and exuberance, and we welcome your interest in joining us. Here are a few questions that most river guide candidates ask. Hopefully this will help get you started toward a long and fun-filled working experience at Whitewater Challengers.
Do I need any prior experience to be a river guide candidate?
Not really. You’ll need to be a reliable swimmer and comfortable around water in general, but whitewater skills are a big part of what we teach in our Guide Training Program. What we can’t teach are the people-skills we look for in our Guide Candidates. If you bring to this job a natural, outgoing, people-friendly manner, you’re more than half-way home. The rest you can learn from our trainers, and by shadowing real trips down the river.
Who is Whitewater Challengers looking for?
Every year, we increase our guide crew by attracting folks who are excited about the river, and about sharing the river experience with our guests and with our senior guides. We’re all about safety, and having fun. So we hire guides who have a keen appreciation for guest satisfaction, and who also have the physical capabilities needed to “do the job” of guiding whitewater trips. As a river guide, you’ll be interacting with people (fellow guides and guests) all the time. It’s your job to be certain every guest has a great experience, on and off the river.
When do I work if I become a river guide?
Our busiest season is May through September. Weekends are always busy, and during the summer months, there’s work available weekdays and weekends. You don’t have to be available every weekend, but it’s important to be available on a fairly regular basis, especially on weekends.
When is training available?
You can begin training in early April. Training sessions are available on every weekend throughout the season. Each time you train, you’ll master an additional set of skills, until you’ve completed the requirements to be hired as a guide. Many guide candidates are able to complete their training in as little as a few weekends.
What do I do when I train?
Weekend training begins at 9:00 PM Friday night at the “Staff House.” All guides and trainees attend the Friday night guides meeting and many choose to stay at the Staff House (free lodging!) for the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, you’ll be on the river with a trainer. You’ll learn things like: the names of the rapids; how to run a trip through each rapid; how to paddle a raft and a kayak; rescue skills; emergency procedures; company policies and procedures; and ways to help provide exceptional guest service on every trip.
How long will I train before I start working?
Most people need to train on the river for a few weekends. Others may take a little longer. In addition to the on-river training, you’ll also need to attend two one-day courses: Our Guide Orientation Course and the Standard Red Cross First Aid Course. The latter can be waived if you are already Red Cross certified. These courses are offered here at Whitewater Challengers a number of times during the season. Once you’ve completed and demonstrated the basic river skills outlined on our trainee checklist, and are recommended by a trainer, you’re ready to begin working as a river guide.
Will I be training in a raft or in a kayak?
All trainees begin training in a raft. Once you’ve mastered rafting skills you can choose to train in a “ducky” (inflatable kayak) or on a “sit-on-top” kayak. When that training is completed, you may then work in a ducky or sit-on-top. During the late Spring and Summer, there are opportunities to train in a regular whitewater kayak. Most of our more experienced guides work in whitewater kayaks.
How much money can I make?
The guide pay-scale is outlined below. Other benefits include complimentary rafting spaces for your friends, a free place to bunk on weekends at the Staff House, a free guide lunch each day of work, occasional free dinners, a free staff shirt, discounts at our store and snack bar, an employee picnic each year, an employee trip to another river, free kayak training, and more.
Class I Guide: $60/day* Class II Guide: $68/day* Class III Guide: $78/day*
- Plus additional $6/day for Advanced First Aid Certification
- Plus additional $6/day for using your personal kayak
- Plus additional $16/day for being a trip leader
- Plus additional $25/day for being a kayak instructor or guide trainer
- Plus you can sometimes work an early and a late trip on the same day … for two days’ pay in one.
- Plus there are opportunities for additional (hourly) work at the Rafting Center before and after your rafting trip. Please let us know if you’re interested in learning more about this.
What do I need to bring?
There’s a one-time $25 fee required to enroll in the Guide Training Program. Other than that, all you’ll need is a sleeping bag (for the staff bunkhouse), a bathing suit and a great attitude. We’ll supply all the gear you need. If you already have personal river gear, you are welcome to bring that along. Lodging is free, and food is easily purchased locally or at our Rafting Center. If you are training in colder weather in early Spring, it’s a good idea to bring a wool cap, wool socks, and thin polypro long underwear. All of these can be purchased in our outdoor store here at the Rafting Center.
What should I do to start training?
Come run the river with us! As soon as you can! Just call the Guide Hotline (570-443-9728) before Thursday night of the weekend you want to attend. Sign up for the training, and be at the Guide House by 9:00 PM Friday night for the orientation meeting. And if you have any questions, just call Marc S. Brown … our guide trainer and manager … on the Guide Hotline.
How do I apply?
Click on this link for an application to get started on becoming a River Guide.
What is the minimum age to start training?
You must be at least 18 years old in order to enroll in our training program.