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Guide Training & Education Workshops

International Rafting Federation

Guide Training & Education

Guide Workshop | October 2020

  • Location: Hood River, Oregon, USA
  • Length: 2 days
  • Dates: October 8-9, 2020
  • Cost: $150
  • Additional Cost: IRF Award Fees

Guide, TL, and Instructor Workshop | April 2021

  • Location: Hood River, Oregon, USA
  • Length: 5-7 days
  • Dates: April 6-12, 2021
  • Baes Cost: $800 (for 5 day guide and TL workshop)
  • Additional Cost: $250 for optional IRF Instructor Workshop on April 11-12
  • Additional Cost: $250 for lodging at shared house
  • Additional Cost: IRF Award Fees

This is an Amazing Course

★★★★★
This course is an incredible opportunity. It is a rafting-specific course which gives guides the opportunity to solidify their skills, and see where you measure up. The IRF Trip Leader class especially not only gave me an important certification for future international guiding, it also allowed me to learn from other great guides, scenario-based situations, and improve my own skills in the process.
- Ellie Friedmann

International Rafting Federation LogoJoin us for an International Rafting Federation (IRF) workshop for river guides, trip leaders, and instructors facilitated by Mark Hirst of Lapin Koskikoulu. This course is intended for experienced river guides and whitewater professionals looking to increase their education. IRF certifications can be used for guiding, trip leading, and instructing whitewater around the world.

Raft Guide and Safety Craft Workshop

The first three days of the workshop assesses the fundamentals of commercial river guiding and/or safety boating. Assessments are completed on the level of whitewater corresponding to the level of the guide. While on the course, experienced river guides are assessed on a variety of tasks including:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Safety and paddle talk
  • Whitewater boating skills and crew management
  • Flip and throw-bag tests
  • Whitewater swimming
  • Building a 3:1 rope system with appropriate anchors

In order to receive an IRF Guide Certification you must first submit a logbook, first aid, and CPR certification. During the workshop you will need to pass a guide assessment which includes a written exam.

Paddle boat skills are tested during an IRF workshop
Paddle boat skills are tested during an IRF workshop

Safety craft candidates will also be tested on the appropriate level of whitewater in their craft of choice (kayak or cataraft). They must demonstrate a safety craft talk, swimmer rescue, and strong boating ability.

If you have questions about IRF training, please give us a call or check out our IRF Guide Training and Education FAQ.

Trip Leader Workshop

The fourth and fifth day are spent evaluating trip leader candidates with on-river scenarios. These scenarios are designed to test their decision-making, communication skills, delegation ability, and performance during a rescue. They are desinged to be as realistic as possible, again corresponding to the level of the guide being assessed.

“The IRF Trip Leader class not only gave me an important certification for future guiding, it also allowed me to learn from other great guides, scenario-based situations, and improve my own skills in the process”– Ellie “Ldub” Friedmann

An IRF Trip Leader candidate also needs to have valid advanced first aid certificate that includes CPR. Upon successfully passing the qualification, the IRF issues an IRF Trip Leader Certification.

Raft and Safety Craft Instructor Workshop

This additional workshop is offered two days after the course and costs an additional $250. It is offered for whitewater professionals interested in being an International Rafting Federation raft or safety craft instructor. Upon successfully passing the workshop, the IRF issues a provisional license. A candidate must run at least one more course supervised by an IRF assessor before being a fully certified instructor.

Trip Leader Scenario on the White Salmon River
Trip Leader Scenario on the White Salmon River

The IRF instructor candidate must be present for the entire seven days of the course. They must demonstrate that they can design, teach, and correctly evaluate others on their whitewater skills. Candidates must also have a valid advanced first aid certificate (such as a WFR or EMT), including CPR.

About Mark Hirst

Mark is an international rafting and safety instructor who teaches courses for Rescue 3 Europe and the International Rafting Federation. He is originally from Manchester, England and is now based in Finland. He currently teaches river guide and safety courses in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Nepal, India, and Morocco. Learn more about Mark’s philosophy on this Lapin Koskikoulu Blog.

Trip Highlights

  • Discuss modern safety and guiding techniques
  • Earn an IRF guide, trip leader, and/or instructor award
  • On river whitewater scenarios
  • Working with peers from around the world
  • Refine and learn new safety techniques
  • Quick Facts

  • The IRF is recognized worldwide as the world governing body for rafting
  • You can be assessed at multiple different levels: as a guide, trip leader, instructor, and/or safety boater
  • Trip Reviews

    IRF Overall rating: ★★★★★ 5 based on 3 reviews.
    5 1

    This is an Amazing Course

    ★★★★★
    This course is an incredible opportunity. It is a rafting-specific course which gives guides the opportunity to solidify their skills, and see where you measure up. The IRF Trip Leader class especially not only gave me an important certification for future international guiding, it also allowed me to learn from other great guides, scenario-based situations, and improve my own skills in the process.
    - Ellie Friedmann

    Fantastic Course!!!

    ★★★★★
    This was an exceptional course that made me rethink many of the safety practices I've been using for over 20 years. Mark Hirst is an incredibly knowledgeable and adept instructor. The IRF assessments and scenarios helped me fine tune skills and make me better prepared for the coming season. I look forward to participating in IRF courses in the future.
    - Aaron C.

    10 out of 10, would recommend!

    ★★★★★
    This class exceeded expectations. The level of professionalism and knowledge the instructor, Mark Hirst, had was world class. I really enjoyed not only the review of safety principles and procedures on the river but also being assessed on these skills. We were give tests with time limits for a variety of tasks such as throw bagging, setting up a z-drag and flipping a raft over. Being tested with a pass or fail grade gave these tasks a more realistic feel for if you had to do them in an emergency situation. Each TL candidate also got a chance to practice leading a very realistic, chaotic scenario with flips, wraps, swimmers, etc and was assessed on their ability to perform under pressure. Overall, this was the best course I have ever taken. I gained a lot of confidence in my guiding and improved my knowledge of river safety, rope work and personal gear. I am excited to continue to learn from the high standards the IRF has set.
    - Emily Little

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