I’ve been resisting the urge to post daily about the latest-and-greatest from Raft Guide School, but several friends have asked me about it over the last couple of days, so I’m motivated to post an update. If you’re sick of reading about it, blame those curious folks.
In short, the actual “school” is over, but there’s a lot still to be done before I can be out there with a boat full of customers.
First, a quick recap of Day 4 and Day 5. We guided down the Competition Channel, first with instructors in the boat giving tips and such, and then on our own with only our classmates to support us. We even got to guide down Comp with instructors hiding in the water, waiting to swim helplessly out in front of us and beg to be rescued. It was a lot of fun, as per usual, though tiring and bringing a fair amount of scrapes and bruises with it.
Finally, in the last few hours of Day 5, we sat in on a Trip Talk (the pre-rafting safety instructions) and helped customers get geared up, before heading back out onto the water for a full run alongside boats full of customers. It was a great way for some of the new guides to get more familiar with the end-to-end customer experience.
And then… Raft Guide School was over. We’re officially trained — all that’s left now is for us to practice.
To be officially “certified” or whatever, there are two things that must happen: we have to do three “ride-alongs” where we sit in on an experienced guide’s trip to get a feel for their methods, and then we do two “check out” runs where the most experienced guides (called “trip leaders”) join us for a real trip with customers and grade our technique.
And on the second check-out run, we have to bring the raft out into the lower pond after the trip, and successfully flip it over and back in still waters… Which means I will have to hoist myself out of the water and pull myself up onto the boat, unassisted, using nothing but my own upper body strength. Yikes!
In between all of this, I’ll be out there “turkey boating” (taking a raft out with other trained guides) as much as I can, to practice my guiding skills before my check-out runs. I want to get as much time as I can in before I get evaluated, which means I will be spending a lot of evenings up there after my “day job” in the month of June. It will no doubt be tiring and time consuming, but I can think of worse problems to have than needing to go out rafting in the evenings!
For those of you asking when I can take you out rafting (whether in anticipation or dread) please be patient a little while longer. If all goes well, I’ll be ready to take you downstream in the next couple of weeks.